In my previous post I dreamed about the prospect of evangelical functional unity, not one big denomination, but some sort of Committee of Coordination that would enable evangelicals to develop a strategy and focus their resources on implementing and achieving that plan.
Today I would like us to think about what might be accomplished should that take place and should churches genuinely cooperate in achieving the committee’s objectives.
Let’s start with a modest goal such as world evangelism within a generation. Does that sound impossible? Out of reach? As I already mentioned, this represents a modest undertaking. If it sounds like my elevator isn’t making it to the top floor, or even getting out of the basement, consider these facts.
The population of America is roughly 314 million people. Approximately 23% are affiliated with an evangelical church or denomination. This places the evangelical population of America at approximately 72,220,000.
Globally there are about 6900 unreached people groups. This means there are 10,466 American evangelicals per each unreached people group. If we assume that the average church has an attendance of 200, this group would comprise 52 churches, and assuming these people all represent families of four, this number would encompass 2,616 families.
Our Committee of Coordination could assign an unreached people group to each of these clusters of 52 churches. That people group would be theirs to reach within this generation. If each family within the cluster would give $100 per month, which is $1200 annually, this would total $3,140,000 annually for each cluster.
The Committee of Coordination would appoint an oversight group for this project that possessed an in-depth and comprehensive knowledge of evangelizing people groups, having an expertise in areas such as Bible translation, working with national missions, missionary qualification, linguistics, working with governments, cultural issues, etc. This oversight group would not only provide an available resource for church clusters but would also develop a manual that would work these clusters through the challenges that would confront them in their efforts to evangelize their particular unreached people group.
Each cluster of churches would be assigned a facilitator to help with organization, offer guidance, and provide a link to the oversight committee. The many experienced missionaries who for various reasons have gravitated back to the United States would provide an available, and in many cases eager, source of facilitators for this project.
Some experts calculate a generation to be 25 years. It would seem that 52 churches with an average size of 200, having an annual budget devoted to this project of over $3 million, and provided with substantial guidance and expertise could find a way to evangelize its people group within a generation.
Even though this sounds more than reasonable to me, for the skeptic let me supply some factors supporting its success.
First, the organization and strategy inherent in this plan would be a big motivator. The thought that a plot was in place that made world evangelism actually seem manageable would light the fire of God’s people. The second motivator would reside in the ownership and responsibility assigned to each group. The people group assigned to them would be their very own slice of the world evangelism pie. That would provide substantial inducement for getting them to commit to success.
Then consider the excesses inherent in this strategy. With 52 churches assigned to each people group, if only 10% of them, about five churches, were really committed to the project, they would probably be able to achieve it. Likewise, over $3 million a year probably represents substantially more than what would be needed.
Note that the plan includes several layers of oversight and expertise. In addition, as this project moved forward many lessons would be learned that would be invaluable to the achievement of the overall project.
Beyond that, the effort to evangelize people groups could employ national missionaries and other resources that would substantially facilitate reaching the goal. For example, evangelical Bible colleges and seminaries in India turn out thousands of graduates each year, many of which serve in unreached people groups in their own country and in other nations. These national workers could be incorporated in the project to great advantage.
In addition, the plan above does not take into consideration countries other than the United States such as South Korea that are currently evangelizing unreached people groups.
It seems that the only lacking component for making this happen is a unifying committee, not a parachurch organization to which churches would feel no allegiance, but one comprised of representatives from all evangelical groups and therefore one with which churches could identify and towards which they would feel a responsibility.
How tragic that our disunity is preventing world evangelism. How exciting that our unity could bring it about.