Global Evangelism -- Strategy and methodology

Lecture for Week 4 of Global Evangelism / Communicating the Gospel in a Pluralistic World

"I am learning so much about missions and globalization that I did not know. This class has opened my eyes to the great need for workers in God's harvest fields." -- Dianne Wagner, Nazarene Bible College student

In the first three weeks of this missions course, we've looked at:

  1. Motive (the biblical and theological foundations)
  2. History
  3. Context (the culture stuff).

In this fourth week, we turn to the issues of strategy and methods.

Let's define strategy. (Side note: don't you love how teachers always like to define words?) Strategy deals with the big-picture parts of answering the questions of "where" and "how" in world evangelism. Strategy's Greek roots are in words that mean "general" or "commander." So, the word has come to us from military vocabulary. Strategy has to do with the overall management of resources. It's something different from methods. Strategy is, in fact, what needs to be done at the big picture level before tactics are even talked about. Methods are how strategy gets played out in the trenches.

Question: "I've already peeked into the book. There's a lot of statistical stuff in there this week. I get dizzy just thinking about statistics."

If you hate statistics, this could be a bad week for you. Hopefully, the use of lots of charts will help you visualize these figures in meaningful ways.

In fact, let me pose a question for you to answer: What's your favorite insight from the chart gazing you've done this week?

Question: "Are you going to put us on a guilt trip with statistics about the numbers of people dying every day without Christ?"

As we look at the Great Commission and what Christ is asking us to do, the picture can be overwhelming. The good news is that the textbook reading this week will demonstrate to us that the task of world evangelism is do-able.

Sure, in terms of unreached people, we have a long way to go. But the issue is not so much that we have to spend missionary resources to reach every single individual. What we have to concentrate on in terms of missionary strategy is the reaching of people groups. If we can get functioning, reproducing indigenous churches in every people group, then the task can be completed by E-1 evangelism.

We'll be helped in this evangelistic task by Holy-Spirit-produced-and-energized "people movements." That's when large groups of people come to Christ, particularly from cultures where decisions are far more group-based than they were in the U.S. Such movements often get dubious looks from American church leaders and even missionaries who are steeped in the radical individualism of our culture. Christian sociologists would remind us, however, that we have some examples from Scripture to reflect on, one being Paul's Philippian jailer to whom Paul says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household" (Acts 16:31). That doesn't mean only the jailer was truly converted. It reflects the fact that decisions in some cultures are reflected on as a group and arrived at together. If you're interested in reading more, check out the index in missiology books or do an Internet search for phrases like "people movements" and "group decisions."

As to guilt trips, well, I cannot resist giving you a quote from Phil Bogosian who worked for the United States Center for World Mission: "What would we do about it if the 66,000 who die every day in unreached people groups were individuals trapped in a well?"

Question: "I've heard people talk about "the 10/40 window." What in the world is that? Is it a narrow, but tall window in a stairwell somewhere?"

The 10/40 Window concept is a graphic way of describing where the majority of the unreached people of our world live.

Visualize a globe in your mind. See those horizontal lines going around the world? They're "latitude" lines. The 10/40 Window is the area stretching across Africa and Asia from 10 degrees latitude north of the equator to 40 degrees latitude north of the equator. That's the area where we've got to concentrate prayer, people and financial resources if we're going to complete the Great Commission.

Question: "How is all this statistical stuff going to help me?"

If you're going to get your heart in tune with God's heart, you need to understand the enormity of the task yet to be done before His will is "done on earth as it is in heaven" (as the Lord's Prayer says in Matthew 6:10).

We've already encountered the issue of passion. I'm hoping that some of the information you'll digest in this week's reading will make you even more passionate about world evangelism. As you pass this stuff along, don't overwhelm people with facts and figures. Use it in the proper doses to enlighten them and to spark a passionate response in them.

This week we also need to reflect on some of the tragic genocides in recent history which have been perpetrated by nations whose religious label has been "Christian." One example in fairly recent history is that of Rwanda. Christian leaders there are still trying to assess what went wrong there. That country had seemingly been an evangelistic success story before tribal fighting broke out and Christian neighbors killed each other. This chapter raises some important issues about the need for the church to be an agent of reconciliation as it goes about its business of proclaiming salvation.

Well, good reading. And don't let me dare hear you say that statistical stuff is boring. Years ago, what has now become the NMI used the phrase "there are souls in those goals." All these numbers may be mind-numbing. Remember, however, that each number represents people for whom Christ died. They are the "whosoevers" of John 3:16.

Discussion questions

  1. What is the difference between strategy and methods in world missions? How are they interrelated?
  2. Why should statistics play a significant role in understanding the task of world evangelism? What is the purpose of using charts to visualize figures?
  3. What is the 10/40 Window, and why is it important to concentrate prayer, people, and financial resources in this area if we are to complete the Great Commission?
  4. How can missionary strategy concentrate on reaching people groups and establishing indigenous churches to complete the task by E-1 evangelism?
  5. How can the statistical information on world evangelism help believers become more passionate about the task of reaching the unreached?

    -- Howard Culbertson,

More Global evangelism course resources

  • Course home page
  • Attendance policy
  • Connection problems
  • Incomplete work
  • Learning habits
  • Time requirements
  • Lectures
  • Instructional videos:
  • Complementary resources