Missions leaders, meeting in South Africa, agreed to intensify their efforts at planting new church congregations among the hundreds of unevangelized groups worldwide.
Nearly 4,000 Christian leaders from 133 countries met June 30 to July 5 in Pretoria for the Global Consultation on World Evangelization of 1997 (GCOWE '97). Their goal was to cooperate in order to achieve a "church for every people and the gospel for every person by the year 2000."
GCOWE '97, according to Operation Mobilization (OM) international coordinator George Verwer, "is an atomic bomb that is going to have tremendous fallout, some of which will be negative, but overall it will be positive."
Verwer has two specific goals in mind: Establishing a church-planting effort for the remaining unevangelized peoples; and from his Acts 13-inspired vision, calling for 200,000 new missionaries to the field based on the notion that each church can send at least one.
Jerry Rankin, president of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board overseeing the work of 4,200 missionaries, believes there will be an "explosive synergy" growing out of GCOWE '97.
REACHING THE UNREACHED: The AD2000 and Beyond Movement devised the Joshua Project 2000 to help reach the least evangelized groups.
Researchers such as Operation World author Patrick Johnstone compiled a list of 1,739 distinct peoples defined as less than 2 percent evangelical or 5 percent Christian adherents and with a population of more than 10,000. Of these 1,739 groups, 579 are without a church-planting effort.
Missions executives attending one of 10 AD2000 consultations committed to targeting 390 of the 579 groups in the next three years.
"We are going to be interacting on a global basis with mission organizations ...1
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