There are people from at least 62 unreached people groups living in New York City.
One way to reach them would be to train and deploy 62 missionaries in 62 countries who would spend 2-3 years learning the local dialect and culture, and be supported financially for the rest of their lives to live in those countries (where they may never be fully accepted).
This, I think, is our primary international missions strategy and it is effective. We need to continue sending missionaries to live and serve in nations around the world. We need to count the cost and go to them.
Where are the Unreached Most Reachable?
However, in our great cities, the nations of the world are coming to us. They are sacrificing everything for the privilege of living in my neighborhood. They are leaving family and severing strong social bonds to be here. They are learning our language.
We can show them kindness by helping them adjust. We can share a meal with them and provide for basic needs. We can help them learn the language. We can help them create strong social bonds here with the Christian community.
More importantly, we can share the Gospel with them and disciple them to be effective evangelists to their own people. The unreached are more reachable in our own cities.
A New Strategy For Reaching the Unreached
We need to continue training, funding, and sending missionaries there, but that needs to be the backup plan. The primary strategy ought to be to reach the cities. The church in America is barely keeping up with population growth, let alone the population growth in the cities. We need a massive influx of church planters to come to the cities yesterday.
But there’s another strategy for reaching the unreached that builds on both of the existing strategies. If a missionary is preparing to go to Serbia for example, why not send him to work with a multi-ethnic church in a US city that is close to a Serbian community. He would work as a missionary-in-residence for one to two years making disciples especially amongst Serbs but also with others in the community. Meanwhile, he is training, raising support, etc.
Then, when it’s time to go to Serbia, he may already have made connections through the new believers he has been discipling in that US church. The church in the US would then become the sending church and might even send that missionary with one or two of the Serbian families to work with him.
Churches in the city (and especially New York City) should become learning labs for cross-cultural mission for future missionaries. Such a church could have 2-3 potential international church plants in the works with several missionaries-in-residence working alongside the pastoral team. The missionary-in-residence might even select their future location based on who is being reached and from what people groups.
Of course, the people being reached in the city can also be discipled and deployed without a white missionary but all options should be explored. If a missionary is called to go somewhere, he might as well get some good cross-cultural on-the-job training in before he goes.
What better place to do that than in New York City?
The above is what we envision doing with our church plant in Queens, NY. 48.1% of the 2.3 million people living in Queens are foreign born. Many will stay and work and bring their families to live here permanently, but many will return to their nations. We need to meet them here.
Our goal is to plant churches throughout the 61 zip codes in Queens and as we reach people from various people groups (especially the unreached people groups), we want to train them and send them home fully equipped to proclaim the Gospel in their towns and cities. We would love to have 2-3 missionaries-in-residence and 2-3 church planting apprentices working with us at any given time.
Contact us if you want to learn more about how to partner with us or work with us to plant church planting churches within reach of more than 60 unreached people groups.