I suggest that the emphasis of the “first team” to engage an unreached people group should not be to be a witness, evangelist or church planter. Instead, early efforts should focus on catalyzing leaders with large, strategic visions for the whole of the group, and a preference for multiplication and mobilization of additional leaders.
Consider: a single team deployed among 10 million people obviously cannot reach the whole group on their own. Additional teams are needed. Consider also that, in every successful CPM/DMM analyzed, there was an outsider paired with an insider – the outsider catalyzed and assisted, encouraged, served, connected, etc. the work of the cultural insider. (Side note: I’m not talking about insider movements, but rather E-scale outsider/insider.)
- A single team engages 10 million people.
- The team catalyzes a local worker. Insiders are now 1 to 10 million.
- With encouragement the local raises up an additional 10 workers. Insiders are now 1 to 1 million.
- These 10 workers, probably geographically/ethnographically distributed, now work on raising up 10 teams each. Insider teams are now 1 to 100,000 – which is doable. Disciple-making and church-gathering should clearly have begun at this stage.
- These 100 teams/church networks will raise up DBS/house-church planting style groups. 10 each brings insider teams to 1 per 10,000. That level of penetration is equivalent to a lot of Christianized places. (What I’m describing here is more a leadership movement, but might involve churches already started – this is now 4th generation of leaders). The benefit here is that these teams will be geographically distributed with a DMM-oriented plan.
- One more 10X multiplication would get you to 1 per 1,000, or at least 1 per village.
I would guess “reached” threshold would clearly be found at stage 5 or 6 above. The job wouldn’t be done, but it would be sustainable.
The point I’m making here: at the earliest stages, most workers should likely be focused on raising up the insider leaders and developing a multiplying strategy. Remember, just six 10X multiplications is enough to reach nearly any people group. Teams should therefore focus on how to 10X at each stage.
I’m not saying this is easy! But one thing we have to keep in mind is that multiplying is hard. When the multiplication is 2X (“each one win one”) progress will be slower than if the multiplication is 3X, 5X or 10X at the same rate.
(Another way to think of the above: as stages or thresholds of progress at each stage.)