I am in the process of concluding an interim as the education minister at Northwest Baptist in Oklahoma City. I’ve enjoyed serving with the pastor, Ben Brammer and the staff at Northwest. At our LifeGroup (Sunday School) Leadership Training this past August, we set forth a 5 step approach to help our groups engage the 5 C’s of Missional Groups in a practical, measureable way. Our leaders have responded enthusiastically to this strategy.
One of the key reasons for their positive response is that we have put our expectations for each LifeGroup out in the open where each leader can compare how his group is doing against the backdrop of our five expectations. Basically, because the expectations are measureable and we refer to them at every meeting of our LifeGroup leaders, there are no surprises. Our leaders know what is expected of them and their group.
One of the five expectations we set before our LifeGroup leaders was that they adopt an unreached people group. Northwest is piloting the adopt a people group strategy called, “The 6426 Project”. It has been very fulfilling to hear our Northwest groups talk about their people group in hallway conversations. I like to “drop in” on classes and just lurk in the back for a few minutes each Sunday. It is so pleasing to hear our people ask God to provide a missionary to their group, or for their group to have a copy of the Bible translated into their heart language.
Within a week of when one of our LifeGroups had adopted their people group, I got a phone call from a member of the class. I remember it well because I was on a mission trip at the time and although the call was made about 2:00 pm in Oklahoma, it was 3:00 in the morning in East Asia! The church member making the call wanted to share with me some exciting things that he had learned about his people group while researching them on the internet!
One of the reasons I am a proponent of the missional communities strand of the Sunday School movement is because it encourages our people to adjust their thinking from Bible study as something we do in class, to applying the Bible to the world around them. I believe that many followers know as little of the world around them as they do their Bible. We want to help them discover and learn about the world we all belong to and which Christ has called us to love and share the Gospel with. Our prayers will be more earnest and more informed. Our souls will be better touched and led by the Spirit. Unless we are inaccurately reading the Great Commission texts of the four gospels and Acts, we are called to spread the Gospel to every corner of the globe. The missional communities form of Sunday School is committed to making missionaries out of members.
Encouraging our classes to adopt a people group and pray for them for one year also helps us focus on the right priorities. In my opinion, ultimately this is not about my church or your church, or my group or your group. It is not about who has the cooler strategy or which pastor looks good in a faux hawk. The focus is on people who have never heard the Gospel! We are praying for people who will spend eternity in hell unless they respond positively to the Gospel. And for the people group your class has adopted to respond, somehow the Gospel must be shared with them.
For many of our people at Northwest, Romans 10:14-15 is going to become more than a couple of verses in the Bible. The reality of “…how can they hear without a preacher” is going to have the face of their adopted people group on it.
Whether you are a pastor or a Sunday School leader, we are called to do more than just make good attenders out of our people. We are called to equip them to become missionaries and not just members, to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our world.
Their are 6,426 people groups around the world representing over 2 billion people who have not heard the Gospel. Oklahoma Baptists are going to pray for these people groups in 2011. If your class or group would like to adopt one of these groups, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get you taken care of.