- Field-Based Networks

The Field-Based Network

Abridged from article by John Robb

In the past 13 years it has been my deep privilege to facilitate Unreached Peoples Strategy Consultations for Christian leaders in many countries around the world with the purpose of stimulating the formation of ministry networks for unreached people groups.  For example, in Burundi, 25 denominational leaders and pastors decided to form an interdenominational network focussed on reaching the Pygmies, a people that had seen many uncoordinated and unsuccessful prior efforts at evangelization.  In India, ministry networks have arisen in almost all the northern states as local leaders have gathered to pray and plan new efforts together.

In many multiplied instances the Holy Spirit is doing the same thing all around the world, breaking down those denominational, doctrinal and other barriers that have kept Christian workers separated and working independently of one another. One practical way of building ministry networks that we have found to be useful, and that may be of use to you, is the Networking/Consultation Model:

  1. Gather key leaders together.
  2. Define "people group" and "unreached people group" and their meaning in your context.
  3. List the local people groups and unreached people groups.
  4. Pray to the Lord of the harvest for the groups listed (Mt 9:36-38).
  5. Identify people groups participants are reaching or want to reach.
  6. Collate participants' responses according to similar people groups identified.
  7. Form discussion groups to "network" with one another through thinking, praying and strategizing together on the basis of their common vision for reaching their people group.  Networking develops as participants begin discussing and praying through the answers to the following five questions:

The Holy Spirit often seems to take over at this point and brings to birth new ministry networks.  Some, of course, do not continue, but others do.  I am convinced that such purposeful networking must happen for all unreached peoples if world evangelization is to take place by AD 2000 or beyond. We must work together to intentionally spawn thousands of new coalitions, task forces, networks focused on particular groups and also around particular ministries. It is a practical, doable way of catalyzing and carrying out evangelization of the unreached on both  global and grassroots levels.

During a visit to an Asian country a few years ago, I happened to stroll down to the harbor along with some local friends. As we ventured out on to one of its piers overlooking the water, we noticed a solitary woman fishing, hunched over a single pole, its line descending into the murky depths below. Glancing at her stony expression and the few, tiny fish swimming in the plastic bucket beside her, we asked how long she had been at it. "All day" was the dismayed reply, quickly adding even more gloomily, "I come most every day to catch some fish for my family's dinner or to sell in the market." I wondered at the dedicated persistence of the woman, keeping at this unrewarding task in the hot sun day after day. "Would I be so committed?" I found myself reflecting inwardly. But my admiration of this rugged individual was short-lived. Gazing over the edge of the pier, I noticed hundreds, even thousands of fish darting back and forth in the shadows. And my wonderment at the lonely fisher woman's dedication abruptly turned to astonishment at her stupidity. For if she had simply enlisted the help of a friend and together lowered a net, she could have harvested a thousand times as much. How often you and I, in carrying out the Great Commission, are like that woman, dedicated and persistent, yes. But in the final analysis, stupid and shortsighted because we do not work closely with others engaged in the same task. We prefer to go it alone and settle for disappointing results rather than work the nets together at Christ's direction to enjoy a spectacular catch for the Kingdom. Through networking in the power and unity of His Spirit may we all become true "fishers of men"!

Go to full article: "Networking"<> to Reach the Unreached.  John Robb serves World Vision International.  He also is the Coordinator of the Unreached<> Peoples Network for the AD2000 and Beyond Movement.

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