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OVERSEAS MISSIONS: 7 steps churches can follow to adopt a people group

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A people group shares a basic identity and view of the world. Individuals within a people group frequently have the same language, culture, history, customs and family/clan identities.

From a missions perspective, a people group is the largest group through which the Gospel can flow without encountering significant barriers of understanding and acceptance.

An unreached people group is comprised of less than 2 percent evangelical Christians. Your church can play a key role in bringing an unreached people group to Christ. Adopting a people group helps churches take an active and direct role in missions.

Step 1: Pray for God’s guidance.

— As in any spiritual endeavor, your search for an unreached people group to adopt must begin with prayer.

Step 2: Discover your church’s natural affinity (DNA).

— Do you already have a connection to an IMB missionary? Have you sent out a missionary from your church? Do you have a parent or children of missionaries who are members? Has a team been on a mission trip where they felt a connection to the people group(s)?

— What are the skills and spiritual gifts of your church members?

— What people groups live near your church or its members? Check out peoplegroups.info to find people groups in your area.

Step 3: Determine your church’s expectations.

— Do you want to commit to pray for an unreached people group? To be a prayer partner, call (888) 462-7729 or find prayer resources at imb.org/compassionnet.

— Is your church ready to pray and connect with a missionary on the mission field by going on multiple volunteer trips?

— Is your church ready to pray and become the “missionary” to an unreached people group that has no missionary working among them? Are you ready to study the culture, develop the strategy and take ownership of reaching a people group that may never hear about Christ unless you go?

Step 4: Identify a missions champion.

— Has God laid a particular people or part of the world on the heart of one or more church members?

— Are they ready to find ways to take the Gospel to those who have little or no access to it?

— Who in the church will be the point person to communicate with those on the field?

— Is this person willing to be trained in security measures to allow communication to restricted areas where there is a lack of openness to the Gospel?

— Can this person help influence the congregation to focus prayer for your unreached people group?

— Are they willing to lead teams and work with church and IMB field leaders?

Step 5: Investigate opportunities.

— Do you feel led to reach a megacity or a rural area or something in between?

— Are there volunteer opportunities available that might help you discover the people or area of the world where God is leading you? Explore opportunities at going.imb.org.

— Has your state convention or local association adopted an unreached people group?

— Assign teams or individuals to research various people groups and areas at peoplegroups.org.

— If you feel led to a specific area but have not yet selected a people group, contact an IMB mobilization specialist assigned to your state at (800) 999-3113, ext. 1667 or go to the “Lead Your Church” section at imb.org, and find “Church Services.”

Step 6: Celebrate God’s direction.

— Once you have determined your adopted people group, follow God’s leadership, find ways to bring the whole church into the process and meet with church leaders to plan a celebration time.

Step 7: Communicate, follow through and keep commitments.

— Learn from field personnel.

— Connect with other churches to multiply your efforts.

— Communicate with field personnel as your team trains and prepares.

— Keep your commitments. Building trust is vital. Follow-through will lead to more opportunities.

— Evaluate your role every year. If God leads you in another direction, communicate this to the field and other churches that have joined in this effort and develop a strategic exit plan.

To learn more about adopting a people group, go to the “Lead Your Church” section of imb.org.
Prepared by the international bureau of Baptist Press in Richmond, Va.

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