- Baptist Press - https://www.baptistpress.com -

Missions leaders look for ways to speed up gospel outreach


RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–With God moving in dramatic ways to take the good news of salvation to every last people group, evangelical mission leaders met in late March to talk about ways to speed up the process.
Leaders from the Southern Baptist International Mission Board met with representatives from six evangelical mission agencies March 25-28 at the board’s Missionary Learning Center in Rockville, Va. Those who participated discussed ways they could cooperate as each group shares Christ and plants churches among the 1,739 ethnic people groups that still have little or no knowledge of the gospel.
The task of taking the gospel to those who have yet to hear is an immense undertaking, and Christians need to coordinate their efforts to make progress as quickly as possible, said IMB President Jerry Rankin.
The “Accelerating World Evangelization” meeting was the second of four gatherings intended to promote such cooperation.
“God is moving in phenomenal ways to advance global evangelization, but the task of penetrating the rest of these unreached people groups remains a formidable challenge,” Rankin said. “It’s important to realize Southern Baptists are not the only ones God has called to fulfill the Great Commission.”
Conferring with other evangelical missions agencies strengthens everyone and helps prevent duplicated efforts, he said. Meeting together encourages agency leaders and renews a vision “to press on to bring all the peoples of the world to saving faith in Jesus Christ.”
The March meeting of nondenominational agencies followed an October 1998 gathering of missions researchers. Organizations focused on evangelism and gospel resources will meet in June 1999, and denominational church-planting agencies will meet in October 1999.
The October 1998 meeting resulted in an agreement to develop an electronic clearinghouse that will widen access to each group’s database of missions information. Agreements from the March meeting included a plan to create a new book designed to help lay people understand the biblical mandate, history and strategies of modern missions.
Attending the dialogue with IMB leaders were representatives from Arab World Ministries, Island Southeast Asia, OMF International, Operation Mobilization, Pioneers and The Evangelical Alliance Mission. Leaders of seven other groups were invited but were unable to attend.
The meetings give missions leaders an opportunity to hear what God is doing through others and look for ways they can help each other, said Avery Willis, the board’s senior vice president for overseas operations.
“The gathering of Great Commission Christians in the AWE conference exceeded my expectations,” Willis said. “God is moving in ways we had not realized.
“We found many ways we can work together on similar projects that will greatly accelerate the work of Christ. Relationships were forged that will result in more effectiveness in starting church planting movements.”
The IMB’s “New Directions” emphasis is driven by a vision of starting a church planting movement — a spontaneous multiplication of indigenous churches — among hundreds of lost “Last Frontier” people groups, said Scott Holste, the board’s global research director.
The fact that only 1 percent of Christendom’s resources ever make it to “Last Frontier” people groups means wholehearted commitment and intensive effort will be required to take the gospel to those who still have not heard, he said.
“God’s heart is that all peoples will hear the gospel. Nothing less,” Holste said. “We should be driven by a vision of what God is doing and what it’s going to take to start a church planting movement among every people group on earth.”