In Youth With A Mission we desire all people everywhere to be given the opportunity to hear the message of Jesus and for lives to be changed for the better as individuals and communities put the truth of that message into practice. Thousands of YWAM workers are committed to seeing the Kingdom of God lived out where this message of Jesus remains largely untold.
Recently, a group of YWAM leaders from this sphere of ministry had a discussion about the greatest obstacles we are facing in seeing Church Planting Movements (CPMs) started among Unreached People Groups (UPGs). (See editorial for definition of these terms). Understanding the obstacles to any goal is key to overcoming them, through prayer, strategic and behaviour changes. This article outlines some of their observations.
Is it possible that YOU can help overcome these obstacles? As a YWAMer, you are committed to the call to make disciples of all people. Your prayers and activities could be part of what it will take for the Kingdom to be established, even in the most remote places. Read on to find out more…
Obstacles to Seeing CPMs among UPGs:
1) Unhelpful Priorities in the Church
The established church largely focuses its resources and time on efforts to strengthen, edify and encourage other believers. Only 5% of cross-cultural workers labour among unreached people groups.
2) Lack of Informed Strategy
Similarly, paternalistic or superior attitudes towards indigenous believers can inhibit or even prevent the growth of a CPM. As movements to faith grow in unreached communities, the role of foreign missionaries could shift in many cases to the role of servant or facilitator.
In addition, few workers employ a strategy that aims toward a movement of churches. Reaching a UPG would be helped greatly by coordinating the efforts of all who are engaging that group. Yet the concept of strategy coordination, while increasingly discussed, is still under-employed. Implicit in this is the need for on-going evaluation and adjustment to learn from and apply new methods.
3) Poor Support of Workers in the Field
Lack of adequate, appropriate training – Quality training has the potential to equip teams and individuals to be more strategic, more enduring, more effective – overall, more fruitful. There is a lack of focused training that identifies a worker’s calling and role, and equips him or her with the knowledge and tools to pursue that calling in the area of cross-cultural church planting among unreached peoples.
Lack of logistical support – Many workers on the frontiers of Christianity do not have adequate supplies of what most would consider every-day necessities, much less the “luxuries” of modern equipment, Internet and phone access, ease of transport, and a ready stock of ministry resources. Compounding this; their needs are often not known simply because they have no way to communicate them.
Lack of adequate leadership – Whether it’s called directing, coaching, mentoring, supervision, or providing accountability, many front-line workers suffer from the lack of leadership. They need a mature, knowledgeable, objective co-worker to whom they can report and from whom they can receive input and guidance. A CPM can depend on the presence of apostolic leaders – those who are able to envision, spark and oversee a mass movement to Christ.
Lack of pastoral support – the distance from the established, healthy Church often means pastoral care is minimal or non-existent for workers among the unreached. There is a shortfall of caregivers who fully understand the challenges faced by these workers and are equipped to minister to them.
4) Spiritual Challenges
After several thousand years of looking for ways to destroy the Kingdom of God, demonic powers have to be seriously considered as one of the chief obstacles to CPMs. For the few workers who respond to the call to go, extreme pressures can take them out – loss of health, family breakdown, and relationship problems among workers. UPGs live in environments that are tougher physically, spiritually and politically than the places where most reached people groups live – that’s why they are the last to be reached.
Clearly, the answer to such challenge is a foundation of focused prayer. The lack of prayer is a key obstacle to seeing God’s Kingdom established. Prayer leads to miraculous encounters that often spark CPMs. The task of reaching the unreached is enormous and, at times, seemingly impossible. We need to see an increase in power, signs and wonders in our evangelism and church planting efforts.
5) Financial Challenges
Most full time Christian workers face financial challenges, but when you are on your own in a remote location, it can be impossible to continue without risking your life.
Particular pressure comes to those from cultures where the idea of a missionary vocation is unknown and there is pressure to contribute to the financial needs of the family.
Of all funds handled by the Christian Church worldwide, 95% is used for local church expenses; 5% is sent outside the local church; and only 1/10th of that 5% goes to cross-cultural mission work among the unreached.
However, money, if not used rightly, can give a short-term boost to the work but hinder the start and growth of a CPM, creating unhealthy dependency, feeding greed, and dividing the church. Outside funding of ministry among the unreached needs to be well informed and done wisely.
6) The need for godly character in the field
Cross-cultural workers themselves, though passionate, can be impatient. Yearning to produce results can lead to shortcutting the process of language and culture learning. Some want instant results. Reaching an unreached people group usually requires a sacrificial lifestyle and years of dedicated labour.
In an isolated area, it is easy for personal spiritual disciplines to falter. Some workers may avoid training or counsel, thinking they already know what to do. Pride is also a key factor behind disunity, lack of effective partnering, and the spirit of superiority and independence that divides and cripples many efforts among the unreached.
Strong discipleship of new believers is also a factor in seeing a CPM develop. Deeper, more thorough discipleship can accelerate the growth of a CPM; whereas half-hearted believers may not contribute much to Kingdom multiplication.
YWAM leaders have identified these 6 obstacles as some of the main reasons we are not seeing more church planting movements started among unreached people groups. Could you, or your YWAM team, help overcome these obstacles? Could you host a training school that would help equip church planters? Could you direct funds to a team or project working among unreached people, provide pastoral care support or commit to pray for them? Could you help a church planting team with their communications or share some discipleship tools?
If you would like to know how you can get more involved in making Christ known in places where He has never been heard, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll connect you to experts in your field of interest.