The Challenge of Saturation Evangelism and Leadership Development

I. INTRODUCTION

Overview

I believe we are living in the generation that may well see the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14: "This Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come". The Spirit of God is at Work!

II. WHAT IS THE BIBLICAL PATTERN OF HOW GOD WORKS IN THE WORLD?

Whenever God had a job He wanted done He chose people to do it. When the Lord wanted a message delivered to Israel He looked for a man who was willing to go. Isaiah said, "Here am I, send me". God used Noah to build an ark. Suppose Noah had said that he wasn't good at making plans and that everyone should just do their best to build boats and save the animals. Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt. But, then, as the job got more difficult we see him in Numbers, Chapter 11, dividing up the responsibility for giving direction to the children of Israel. When the temple was built, each of the tribes of Israel had a role to play in the construction of the temple, but Solomon took the responsibility for coordinating the workers. Conclusion: When God wants to get a job done, He impresses people to cooperate in the task and He chooses leaders to help people work together.

III. AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION AND INTERACTION

A Question for Discussion.

If it's God's will that we take the Gospel to every person in the world, why haven't we completed the task? Or the other side of the question is, how can we as Christian leaders make sure they get an opportunity to hear the message of salvation?

What answers did you get in your group?

I want to give you three answers of my own: We haven't been obedient to go; We haven't been intentional in our plans for evangelization; We haven't divided up the task.

Summary.

If we want to reach every village and every block of every city, we must use God's pattern. That is, 1) Divide up the task; 2) Find servant-leaders to coordinate the effort and help with the plans.

IV. WHAT ARE WE TRYING TO DO IN THIS SATURATION EVANGELISM AND SMALL GROUP LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT EFFORT?

Definition.

The word saturation implies that we are soaking or drenching the area with the gospel message.

The Challenge of Closure.

As the century draws to a close, mission leaders are increasingly talking about the subject of "closure". Here, then, is a working definition. Closure: The completion of the task of presenting the Gospel to every person in the world -- in his mother tongue, or an understandable trade language -- while providing an opportunity for those who respond to grow toward maturity in Christ through a local body of believers.

Therefore, we need to have in mind the ultimate goal: the establishment of a church within every ethno-linguistic group, and located within a reasonable geographic distance of those who are reached. To ensure that we can conserve the results of our evangelistic activities we must continually be involved in the preparation of leadership for new convert groups and churches that will be formed.

Those of us who are involved in the task of world evangelization dream of the day when the gospel can be presented to every person and there will be a church for every people. We can never guarantee that everyone who hears the message will understand or be receptive. But surely, we can guarantee that they have an opportunity to hear the message if they want to. The thing that is missing in our mission strategy is taking responsibility for completion of the task. We have a passion for the activity, but an aversion to the accountability. We like doing the ministry -- teaching, preaching, counseling... but sometimes we don't like being responsible for those who haven't heard yet.

The truth about the current situation is that despite all of our efforts, there are still millions who haven't heard the Message. There are Believers in every country who are trying to reach their country. But, the sides aren't even. We are all ministry specialists -- in either our activities or our plans. The truth is, that if we all accomplished the goals for our individual organizations by the year 2000, we still wouldn't know if we had reached everyone with the Gospel. Our individual organization and denominational goals do not contribute to any integrated, over-all world evangelization plan. Most of our plans center around goals for numbers of new missionaries to be recruited or numbers of new churches to be planted instead of people groups to be penetrated or territory to be covered. We are all tending to build our individual kingdoms -- most of the time right on top of each other. At some point, we have to commit to each other, that we will take the responsibility for a particular geographic area of the world.

V. WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?

We should appoint Geographic Coordinators who will: 1) Make sure that the gospel is proclaimed to every person in the area by the year 2000; 2) Make sure that each ethno-linguistic people group is reached; 3) Make sure that we are developing leadership for small groups.

How Should This Saturation Effort be Conducted?

Key points: Gospel presentations should be in their own language. The Gospel proclamation should include an invitation to receive Christ. A follow-up opportunity must be presented that will eventually lead to incorporation of those who respond into a local church. There must be a commitment among the churches and organizations to cooperate with other members of the Body in the saturation effort. There must be a commitment by each church or organization taking responsibility for an area, to report the degree of progress.

What Kinds of Saturation Evangelism Tools Should We Use?

VI. A JESUS FILM UPDATE

VII. SATURATION EVANGELISM SUMMARY

The Advantages of Saturation Evangelism and Mass Communication

There are a number of advantages. It is one of the first steps toward church planting in an area. The population explosion demands that we use methods that will get to more people, faster. It serves as a "filter" to help us find the ripe fruit. In today's society, people are naturally drawn to media presentations and large events -- and tend to judge the importance and significance of the message by the way that it is presented. Many people need repeated exposures to the Message before they are willing or able to comprehend. Finally, Jesus taught the principle of "sowing broadly" to those whom He was discipling.

The Challenge of Doing Effective Saturation Evangelism

How do we find out who is really interested among those who have heard the gospel in a large audience or through a media presentation? How do we match interested people with workers who can disciple them face to face? How do we ensure that communication actually takes place with the hearers? How do we match the message of the mass media with the life of Jesus incarnated through His followers? All of these are cautions as we look to use mass evangelism tools to take the Gospel to every person.

In Summary, our Saturation Strategy will be: 1) Work together to "sow broadly" through mass evangelism efforts; 2) Enlist Saturation Coordinators for every area who will direct our efforts toward areas not yet reached; 3) Prepare leadership for new convert groups; 4) Plant churches.

VIII. CONCLUSION

Victor Koh, Singapore
Chairman, Saturation Evangelism & Small Group Leadership Development Network
Dir. of Affairs East Asia, New Life 2000
Paul Eshleman, U.S.A.
Coordinator, Saturation Evangelism & Small Group Leadership Development Network
Director, Jesus Film