When someone is beginning to imagine and plan a new team they might well produce a Vision Statement. Initially it will likely be quite sketchy. As the idea develops through prayer, study, talking with others it will develop into an overview of what the team is going to do. It will be the basis of recruiting team members, communicating with friends and supporters and with other YWAMers.
Later in the process as the team starts to come together the team will probably produce a Memorandum of Understanding.
Here are two examples.
- 1 DELTA Team Vision and Strategy Paper
- 1.1 Vision
- 1.2 Strategy
- 1.2.1 Pre-field Preparation
- 1.2.2 Language Learning, Entry & Residency
- 1.2.3 Basics Concerning Evangelism
- 1.2.4 Discipleship and Gathering, and What the Church(es) Will Look Like
- 1.2.5 Key Partnerships
- 1.2.6 Unusual Obstacles to be Overcome
- 1.2.7 Special Sub-tasks (e.g. Translation, Vocational Training, Humanitarian Work)
- 1.2.8 Distinctive Theology
- 1.3 Family Bio
- 2 THE Epsilon TEAM VISION STRATEGY PAPER
DELTA Team Vision and Strategy Paper
People Group and Location
We will primarily minister to the DELTA, particularly in DELTA. The team will be based out of DELTA, a city of over half a million, the largest city in DELTA.
There are at least nine to eleven million DELTA Muslims worldwide living primarily in DELTA and DELTA. There are over one million Muslim DELTA living in DELTA. To our knowledge, there is little to no ministry occurring in the DELTA language among Muslims in DELTA.
Purpose and Vision of the Team
South Asia contains over one third of the Muslim world and has the highest concentration of the most populous MUPGs (Muslim Unreached People Groups). Paul says in Romans 15:20 that it is his "ambition to proclaim the Gospel where Christ has not already been proclaimed." We, too, make it our dream, our ambition, to proclaim Christ where others are not working.
What We Intend to Accomplish
By the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, we intend to be willing vessels for the Lord to use to plant his church among DELTA:
- We do not want to dream small dreams. We desire God to plant not just one but multiple churches among DELTA. We desire that these churches would themselves plant other churches who will one day plant other churches.
- We desire to reach extended family units.
- We desire that this team would birth other teams that would go to other unreached areas, including working among other MUPGs.
- We desire to replace ourselves. We desire that God would raise up nationals in our place who will be more effective than we could ever be.
We desire that all team members, if possible, attend Candidate School at their respective Sending Bases. Before coming to the field, it is desirable that prospective team members cultivate a passion for working with Muslims, whether that be working with international students, refugees, participating in prayer groups for the Muslim world, etc.
Language Learning, Entry & Residency
Language ability is crucial to effective ministry. Team members should plan on spending one to two years in full-time language learning in DELTA. We use the Growing Participator Approach, a method of learning language which has been very successful, even for people who feel they are poor language learners.
With the new visa policy of DELTA, tourist visas are discouraged. If team members were to have tourist visas, they would be required to leave the country at least every six months and spend two months outside DELTA. Instead, we recommend that team members pursue student, NGO, or business visas. The team commits to helping new team members get the best visas possible.
The team will reside in DELTA. While team members can travel to other parts of DELTA for ministry work, all team members will reside in DELTA.
Basics Concerning Evangelism
We commit to being a light for the Gospel wherever we are (Matthew 5). Each team member should at all times "be ready to give a reason for the hope that is within [them]." We encourage team members to always look to upgrade their evangelism skills and put into practice what they have learned. Team members should look for opportunities to share Christ in relevant settings and steer conversations toward spiritual things.
We commit to removing every stumbling block except for Christ. For example, team members show honor to the society by not eating or cooking pork, drinking alcohol, or consuming other offensive foods while in areas with a large DELTA population. Women should also dress in a culturally appropriate way.
We have seen great fruit using a form of the Camel Method (Quranic bridge). While we do not believe that the Quran is God's Word, we do recognize that there are truths in the Quran that we can use as a starting place to share the Gospel with Muslims.
We aim to reach people where they are. We place great importance on reaching oral and illiterate peoples via storying methods. We have found Muslims very receptive when we pray for the sick, or over family problems, even when a worker may not sense s/he has a gift of healing, or much experience. We commit to reaching out to women in the community.
Discipleship and Gathering, and What the Church(es) Will Look Like
We prefer a shadow model of pastoring. Shadow pastoring means that we don't become leaders in the churches we plant, but help develop elders, teachers, and other leaders. We prefer to invest time in leaders or potential leaders among believers. Our expectation is that these leaders will then go out and invest these same Biblical truths in their flock.
We are not planning on starting a church that we run with a physical building. We aim to constantly empower the fledgling church to seek the Holy Spirit's guidance on how the Ecclesia (Body of Christ) will look in their cultural context and setting. Within Biblical boundaries, we will encourage the fledgling church to decide for themselves the degree of contextualization of their religious practices.
We will encourage the believers to meet together within their existing social networks and relationships. We are choosing to avoid a Western model of aggregate gatherings of individuals for church. We encourage discipleship and evangelism in group settings as well as in one-on-one interactions.
At least four of the neighboring states have a high number of evangelical believers, all established within the last one hundred and fifty years. While it is not our primary vision, we remain open in whatever ways we can to help mobilize these churches to reach out to their Muslim neighbors.
We have already had some inquiries from individuals within the Presbyterian Church in DELTA, about the possibility of sending workers to join our efforts.
Unusual Obstacles to be Overcome
DELTA, while not a small city, is not a modern Western city by any stretch of the imagination. At this moment, we know of no other Westerners living in DELTA. Western items are scarce. However, basic conveniences including intermittent electricity, gas stoves, running water, public transportation, roads, Internet, cell phone coverage, etc. are available.
By Western standards, most of DELTA is extremely poor. Small amounts of money can easily corrupt individuals. We must be wise in our giving at all times. We choose not to foster an environment where believers are financially dependent on us.
Most DELTA Muslims fall under the umbrella of Folk Islam. They engage in many superstitious practices and live in fear of evil spirits. The emerging church of DELTA will need to make a clean break from these practices.
Special Sub-tasks (e.g. Translation, Vocational Training, Humanitarian Work)
We are beginning a partnership with the church in DELTA, to begin radio broadcasts in the DELTA language.
The Team Leader Couple runs a company. We encourage teammates, if possible, to use skills they already have to get visas , whether business or NGO.
We are grace-oriented in our theology and therefore value the contributions of various denominational and theological backgrounds. We expect teammates to be grace-oriented even though they might not agree with others.
Distinct theology that the team leaders have includes:
- We believe that all the gifts of the Spirit continue to this day, but that there is no gift everyone must have.
- We believe in the eternal security of the believer.
- We place an emphasis on prayer. We expect the Lord to speak to us and guide us through prayer. Seeking the Lord's will is an important part of any decision-making process. The importance of prayer cannot be overstated.
THE Epsilon TEAM VISION STRATEGY PAPER
Our primary goal as a team is, in all things, to 'love God, and love our neighbour' – the things which Jesus himself said were most important.
We will seek to love God by glorifying Him and honoring Him in all that we do, and by being people of worship and prayer. We recognize that Jesus needs to be our first passion, and that ultimately we are in Epsilon for His glory.
We will seek to love our neighbor first by loving our families and others on our team, by building healthy, transparent relationships and by being a community which reflects God. We also seek to love our neighbor by loving and serving Epsilon Muslims, demonstrating Jesus' love through a lifestyle of serving and meeting felt needs, and by discipling people towards Jesus.
God has called us to love and serve Epsilon Muslims, and in particular the people of Epsilon. We are called to be a blessing to the community in the name of Jesus, to remember the poor, to disciple those He is drawing to Himself, and to gather those who follow Him.
To love and serve Epsilon Muslims… We believe that God has called us here for an indefinite length of time to work specifically among Epsilon Muslims. This includes all who would call themselves Epsilon, but primarily those of Epsilon or Epsilon origin. Many Epsilons speak some English, but we are focused on seeing the Gospel impact communities in their heart language of Epsilon.
In particular the people of Epsilon… We feel that God has led us to this small, low-income area outside Epsilon, and given us a heart to serve the community and meet felt-needs in any way we see possible. Our relationships will not exclusively be in Epsilon, and we will seek to see the Gospel impact lives in every strata of society where team members interact, but we have a shared burden to work together and impact this particular community.
To be a blessing to the community in the name of Jesus… We seek to live out the good news, believing that the Gospel impacts all areas of life. We will look for ways in which we can serve and help others, and seek to be clear that we do this as followers of Jesus, and because of what we have first received from Him.
To remember the poor… Knowing the special place in God's heart for the poor, we seek to share our lives with those in need, to help them to help themselves, to bless them unconditionally, and to encounter Jesus in them as we do so.
To disciple those He is drawing to Himself… We long to see people from this community following and worshipping Jesus. We seek to help people move towards Jesus whatever point on their journey they are at, and we recognize that it is God's work, and takes a miracle of His Spirit, for Muslims to follow Christ.
To gather those who follow Him… We will encourage believers to meet together, as we believe that this is the biblical model for the body of Christ. We long to see living, worshipping, self-sustaining, indigenously led and reproducing gatherings of Muslim believers established in the local community, impacting society around it, and leading to a movement of Muslims to Jesus.
Entry & Residency
There are several options people can pursue to obtain visas in Epsilon:
- 6 month tourist visas enabling study at unofficial language schools / tutoring
- 1 year residency visas for students at the University of Epsilon Epsilon program
- Residence visas through our English Teaching business, or other employment (NB Foreigners are not able to work in jobs that a Epsilon could work in).
- Typically, spouses and children are able to receive residency visas through the main supporter of the family.
We are not only looking for a visa strategy, but a credible identity and role in the society which will enable us to integrate into society and bless this nation. We are striving to have integrity in how we present ourselves.
We place a high value on learning Epsilon, as we see that it is crucial to communicating with and loving people, and because we seek to live incarnationally, demonstrating our willingness to take on and value aspects of our host culture. We desire to see Arabs worship Jesus in their heart language and in ways that impact their own society and culture – therefore we seek to immerse ourselves as much as possible in that language and culture. We expect all members of our team to study on a full-time basis for 2 years, and thereafter on a part-time basis indefinitely.
There are many options for learning Epsilon in Epsilon. We will discuss these with each member of the team, hoping to find the option which best suits their learning style and identity. The goals we will strive towards are:
- To become fluent in the local dialect of Epsilon.
- To become competent enough in Modern Standard Epsilon to confidently handle the Epsilon New Testament.
Outreach, Discipling & Gathering
We make Jesus the focus of our outreach, not Christianity or apologetics. We believe that He is the good news, and seek to remove any unnecessary obstacles that may prevent Muslims coming to Him, such as our Western Christian culture etc. We will identify ourselves as followers of Isa.
We are not out to 'convert' or 'make Christians' of our local friends, but our desire for all people is that they follow Jesus, and enter into transformed life in Him, that they are filled with the Holy Spirit, and that they remain in and impact their existing social networks.
We believe that discipling starts from the beginning of a relationship and from whatever point each person is on their journey towards God. We seek to accept and celebrate the journey through which people move towards Jesus.
We recognize the importance, in hoping to see communities of believers, of working within social networks, and with 'men of peace', those with weight in their community. We seek to do this, while also recognizing that loving the individual who is deemed unimportant by society was a common theme of Jesus' ministry.
Methods of outreach may include (but not be limited to); explaining the importance and relevance of Jesus in all situations and circumstances of life, quoting scripture, quoting verses from the Quran which can be bridges between us, studying the lives of the prophets in the Quran and Bible, telling stories of Jesus and our own lives, reading through a gospel, serving the community projects alongside Muslim friends.
Discipleship is not imparting knowledge to a believer, rather, it is training that believer to be a follower of Jesus. This typically involves activities such as modeling godly lifestyle, encouraging them in their victories, rebuking sin, training the believer to overcome sin in their lives, and imparting a vision for the church.
Gatherings of believers will be encouraged, but not centered around us. They will be encouraged to pursue expressions of worship and faith that are consistent with their culture, and the believing community will choose how they define themselves.
We seek to serve the community of Epsilon. We hope to do this by building relationships with people in the community and meeting felt-needs that become evident as we get to know people. With qualified English teachers and nurses on our team we hope to use our skills and qualifications to serve this town, and we hope one day to have a centre in which to focus our work together. As we build bridges in the community we will begin to disciple those who show spiritual hunger. This may include those we employ, students, and others we are in relationship with.
In all of the above, we recognize our dependence on God's Spirit, and the need for a miracle for even one to come to Christ. Therefore we resolve to be people of prayer, to commit to interceding for this nation, and to be faithful in that calling.
Key Alliances & Partnerships
- Epsilon & Epsilon's networks in the States.
- Others working in Epsilon
Obstacles to Overcome
- A block on registration of new NGO's by the government.
- Funding for the English Teaching business.
- Residency visas depend on 'who you know'.
- We expect that people will most naturally join our team out of relationship with us, our churches etc, though this may not always be the case.
- We expect to communicate with applicants over a period of time, and for them to have met all members of our team so that it is a team decision for them to join us.
- We are looking for leaders and disciplers in their home fellowship, and preferably for those who have worked in a team context before.
- We believe that members must have a sense of personal calling to this work, though we allow and expect that for some this will be discovered through a process of exploring and over a period of time.
- We require that all team members become members of the organisation.
- We recommend that they go to Candidate School.