These suggestions for maximizing your success were developed to help prevent possible problems before they arise.
2. Church Leader Support: No matter how passionate the champion, if the church leaders are not behind the adoption project it will fail. Winning the support of the staff and board members lays a secure foundation for building the project. If church leaders can attend a Perspectives<> on the World Christian Movement class, it will deepen their commitment to the principles of adoption. It is recommended that you not run ahead of your leaders.
3. Access: The champion must have easy access to church leaders. As decisions arise in implementing the program, such as those regarding promotion or finances, key leaders must be involved in discussions and decisions.
4. Prayer: Each decision and effort must be consistently brought before God in prayer, from the selection of the people to its fledgling church plant. It is wise to secure the ministry of a team of intercessors committed to praying for each aspect of the project, both for the adopting church's decisions and efforts and for the response of the unreached people. One church has developed a prayer network for this purpose. Whenever significant prayer requests arise, the champion sends a post card to alert intercessors how to pray. Visual and written material such as photographs, posters, and brochures can remind Sunday school classes, families, youth, and other church groups to pray for the adoption process and for the unreached people.
5. Long Term Commitment: One characteristic of our day is that people often expect quick, if not instant, results. This expectation is at odds with what it will take to see a church planted among an unreached people. There may not be a rapid return on the church's investment of time and energy. Even with ideal conditions, the process of adoption itself will take weeks or months. While some churches choose their unreached people the first night the concept is presented to the missions committee, most take several months to research, pray, and decide which group to adopt. Then the committee must educate the congregation about the people and its need. If there are no missionaries ministering among the chosen people, the church would begin to pray that God will raise up missionaries to go. The "payoff" in terms of a viable church plant will likely take years.
6. Integrated Philosophy: The adoption must be one of the "rallying points" of the congregation and factored into other programs just like prayer and worship.
7. Strategy, Goal-setting, and Evaluation: In this program, we have described various areas of involvement including: beginning an adoption, networking and church planting. Your congregation needs to determine which parts God is calling them to work in. It may be necessary to lay a foundation by educating the congregation about unreached people, even before the need for adopting one is presented. After selecting a group to adopt, the church will want to set long-term, measurable goals which may or may not include sending prayer teams, research teams and church planting missionaries. In order to keep on track and respond to new developments, the church will want to evaluate its progress and fine-tune its plans at least annually. Be careful to understand what level of involvement your church can sustain so that you may commit to the people for the long term. Whether or not your church's goals include sending church planting teams, as an adopting congregation you will want to monitor and pray for God's work among the unreached people until the Body of Christ is established and reproducing there.
8. Consistent Education: The whole church can be reminded and taught in a variety of ways and in various settings throughout the year. Enlist creative people to help develop an enthusiasm-building campaign. Bulletin inserts, skits, posters, brochures, ethnic snacks, children's sermons, and ethnic music are a few ways to enhance presentations about the people you have adopted. This is where the adoption actually gains life as the vision permeates the congregation and the whole body "owns" the need to reach the unreached people.
9. Funding: The more enthused the congregation, the more willing it will be to devote funds. Some fellowships put a line item in the missions budget or have an option for faith promise giving. Some collect loose change in specially marked jars placed throughout the church or send jars home with members to receive pocket change at the end of each day. One church took a special offering to have the Jesus Film produced in the unreached people's language.
10. Short Term Teams: Research indicates that "baby boomers" (born between 1946-1964) as well as their Generation X offspring expect to feel and experience something personally before they will give money to it. If your constituency includes a large population of people under age 50, short term visits to your people can become a strategic part of developing your adoption program. In this program you will find guidance for planning your on-site trip. If advised by a knowledgable mission agency, you may also wish to send pastoral staff or church leaders on a "understanding-building" or "friendship-building" visit or to provide pastoral care for missionaries. In addition to enriching the understanding of your congregation, on-site teams may provide crucial information to prepare the way for a long-term church planting team.
12. Missionary Support: Finding a missionary already ministering within or near your people can be a valuable addition to your adoption team. Information gathered from them can be personal and up-to-the minute, and therefore of greater value and impact than that obtained from published material. If possible, become part of the support team of at least one missionary in the field. As this relationship develops, the missionary may be able advise your short-term teams for the greatest safety, cultural sensitivity and effectiveness.
13. Mission Agency Partnership: While an adoption for prayer and funding alone may be carried out independently, it is better to work alongside a mission agency which has expertise and a track record in cross-cultural ministry. Although many areas of unreached peoples are politically sensitive or dangerous for the unwary Christian visitor, this is not the greater concern. Well meaning, but uninformed visitors can hinder the long term work and cause persecution to national believers. Working with agencies is safer for everyone. It is recommended you contact an agency who will guide your further steps of on-site prayer and research and/or sending a missionary to the people. See Locating<> Potential Networks or Members.
14. Networking: Another way to increase your effectiveness is to network or partner with other churches and/or organizations interested in the same people group. You may be surprised to discover that God has led congregations across town or across the world to adopt "your" people group. Starting or joining a network of other churches and organizations committed to reaching the same people can be of great encouragement to your congregation and can greatly help you to persevere and follow through on your commitment. Your church may enjoy the added blessing of partnering with them for research, prayer, funding missionaries, and other projects. Your church may not be able to do much on your own, but networking with other churches multiplies your potential impact on your chosen people. That is why it is beneficial to register your adoption here, using the People Commitment Registration Form (Located at the Joshua Project II website.),<> with the Adopt<> a People Clearinghouse, and with your denomination. They can give you the needed information to help you find those other churches who have adopted the same people, and to help them find you. Please see the Networking section of the Adoption Guidance Program.
Material contained in this article was used by permisson from Bruce Camp and the US Center for World Mission. Material first appeared in "ADOPTION: A Practical Guide to Successfully Adopting an Unreached People Group." Please contact the US Center for World Misson to order the manual.