Missions Conference Finds Pastors Eager to Plant Churches Overseas

At a recent missions conference held last month, church pastors committed to planting churches in 70 of the last people groups that do not have anyone preaching the gospel among them, according to conference organizers.

The Finishing the Task conference held at The Cove in Asheville, N.C., from Nov. 14-17, was the brainchild of the presidents of some of the world's foremost missions organizations.

Organizers invited the most influential pastors of mission-focused churches in the United States to the conference on reaching the remaining 639 people groups that do not have anyone communicating the gospel to them.

Of the over 100 or so church pastors who attended the conference, 26 said they are committed, but were still unsure of the exact number of people groups they would adopt and send teams to.

There were also 20 churches that indicated that they would host a regional conference to help other pastors in their area sign on.

The organizers are thrilled at the overwhelming response.

“With this kind of initiative, it is conceivable that every one of the 639 [groups]could be engaged in the next 18 to 36 months,” the organizers stated in their website.

After nearly 2000 years of missionary work, there remain in the world 639 people groups with populations of 100,000 or more that do not have anyone communicating the gospel to them.

At the Amsterdam conference in the year 2000, a group of seven mission organizations that were seated at Table 71 – by which the group is now known – were challenged by the large number of people groups as of yet reached by the gospel.

"It became apparent to us – especially to Steve Douglass – that two thousand years after he gave us the Great Commission, we still haven't gotten the gospel to every people group," said Dan Grether of Mission Spokane.

The seven organizing missions organizations – which include Campus Crusade for Christ Intl., Youth With A Mission, Wycliffe Bible Translators, the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, Mission Spokane, Walk Thru The Bible, and Dawn Ministries – came up with the idea of planting churches among the last unreached people groups with populations of over 100,000 that remain without preachers of the gospel among them.

By supplying their expertise and materials to megachurch congregations, the gospel could be preached faster than if either of the two sides – parachurches and churches – acted alone.

"There is a paradigm shift," said Dr. Robert Varney, executive director of CCCI’s Christian Embassy and a director for the "Finishing the Task" conference to be held this November in North Carolina

"It's not about the [missions] agencies doing this any more. God ordained the church. Over the course of time, mission agencies have grown up and somehow, we send money to the mission agencies and said, 'You go do it.' But God has never worked like that."

A follow-up "Finishing the Task Champion Training" event will be held in Richmond, Va., from Mar. 14-16, 2006. Registration will be available online by Dec. 15, 2005.