One of the things that showed up in our survey was: how can we be more effective, given our season of life, or given the time crunch we face, etc?
I’ve been facing this question a lot over the last few years. Recently, an HBR article on the Leadership Lessons from Steve Jobs helped crystallize some of these things for me. One of the lessons was about Focus.

“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do,” [Jobs said]. “That’s true for companies, and it’s true for products.”

I want to see places reached. However, I can be paralyzed thinking about the millions upon millions of people in a place. Reaching large numbers as an audience requires a large structure. I can’t do that (I have neither great administrative nor people skills, as many will tell you). So I don’t think about it.
Stop thinking about building an organization, or a large structure, or a church, or an empire.
Instead, I invert the equation.
I stop thinking about the individuals who need to be reached and start thinking about the people who will reach them.
Divide a large population into a few smaller pies and ask, how do we find the person who is passionate about that part of the job? What is the smallest ‘group’ required to start? Who can I find? Who has a passion to see the place reached? How do I find them? How do I serve them?
Thus, a simple plan has evolved and is often in the back of my head. It’s not perfect; it’s more of a “back of the envelope” sort of thing:
Take a place and its population. Perhaps get out a map of it.
FIRST, FIND ONE PERSON: who will say with John Knox, “Give me this place or I die.” This person is the one who champions the place and its people.
Such a champion must be:
1. Visionary: able to see the place, perceive it, desire it, plan for it
2. Community-builder: able to gather other people and motivate them toward the work
3. Doer: will be able to actually “do the work”
4. Learner: able to take risks, experiment, try, learn from failed experiments, persist
Such a champion must NOT be:
5. NOT AN EMPIRE BUILDER (“they must all join my org”)
6. NOT AN AUDIENCE BUILDER (most places, we can go down 3 levels of champions before we ever get to local pastors and evangelists)
7. NOT A RANK BUILDER (“they must all follow me”)
8. NOT A MONEY BUILDER (“we must have all the money to run our programs”–most Champions only deal with a handful of other champions, and don’t need a lot of $)
SECOND, having found that person, serve that person. Encourage them. Equip them. Help them. Get them to segment the place up, and in turn FIND ONE PERSON (a Champion) for each of the individual segments, who also say “Give me this _province/city/whatever_ lest I die.”
Champions must likewise be heart-motivated as servants not executives.
(Though at certain structural sizes they may need executive skills. This is not the same thing.)
Wash, rinse, repeat until you get down to manageable population sizes.
At some level far enough down, the Champion-finding process gives way to looking for local evangelists, pastors who can reach the lost, plant churches, launch new champions. This means the champion must also be able to work “cross-culturally” without “looking down on” non-champions.
90% of the work that will need to be done will not be done by champions or missionaries, but by evangelists and pastors who never go cross-cultural.
If you’re a champion-type, I’d love to hear from you.