We love to talk about missions.
We love to “go” on mission trips. I went to
Many of us find ourselves as I did, on missions to “people groups”. A people group, for the purpose of sharing the love of Christ and the hope of salvation, has been clearly defined. It is “‘…the largest group within which the gospel can flow along natural lines without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance.’ This simply means that unless the gospel comes from someone within one’s own people group, it is foreign.”1
Are there people groups in the
Clearly, the answer is “yes!” I’ve sponsored youth on mission trips to the Appalachians and to the Navajo reservations of southwest
There are, in fact, really SMALL people groups. A micro people group is a “sparsely populated indigenous tribe consisting of 5,000 to 25,000 people”.3 These “micro people groups” can be even smaller than that and it can be argued that they share a language only they understand. These micro people groups don’t have to be in another country, either. Stand outside of a group of politicians, fantasy sports players, quilters, manga readers, sheet rockers or Star Wars fans and it can be as strange as standing on a street corner in downtown
For example, a “lemon” can mean a bad car, a mature manga or a yellow fruit. It depends on what group you’re listening to. A “cave” can be a place you find bats, a student-run pub, an Italian commune or a political term for a group of people who oppose development. Among fantasy sports players a “bust” isn’t a piece of art, it has nothing to do with drugs, and it doesn’t mean “to break” – it’s a player who’s expected to have a poor season despite predictions. These small groups of people don’t make formal dictionaries – insiders are expected to know the jargon or it’s painfully obvious you aren’t part of the group.
Science fiction with its alien races, faster-than-light starships and interstellar empires might be considered a micro people group. Fantasy with its elves, massive wars and wizards might also be considered a micro people group. Mysteries, with their murders, suspects and deduction might be considered a micro people group, as well. If you doubt this then see if you can answer the following questions:
1) What is a con?
2) What is a Gandalf?
3) What does “specfic” mean?
4) What is an Edgar?
5) What are the Hugo and the Nebula?
6) What is a cozy?
7) What was Excalibur and why was it important?
8) Who was Hercule Poirot and where did “Murder on the Orient Express” take place?
9) What is Dune’s other name?4
If you can’t answer ANY of those, then specfic fans and writers can be defined as a micro people group and they might be considered a legitimate mission field for those who “speak the language”.
These people can also be isolated from the Church by choice, distance or simple apathy and no one should argue that they need to hear the Good News in a language that makes sense to them. In their book UNCHRISTIAN, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons point out that, “While we are trying to convey the most important message in human history – that Jesus offers a new life through faith in Him – something gets lost in the translation.”5
People who can speak the language of a micro people group can communicate the Gospel more easily than an outsider could. They can determine the best way possible to clearly and unequivocally show the love of Christ and point the way to salvation and discipleship.
Most of us belong to micro people groups. Are you a speculative fiction fan? How about a politician, fantasy sports player, quilter, Minnesota Wild fan, public school teacher, manga reader, sheet rocker or Star Wars fan? What micro people group are you part of?
Once you’ve identified your micro people group, pray for them and ask the Lord how to convey the most important message in human history to them. How can you present the gospel so that it can flow along natural lines without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance? What message will you send so that the gospel comes from someone within your own people group and make sure that the message of Christ isn’t foreign to them? Can you enlist others to help? When will you begin? My micro people avidly read, write and are fans of speculative fiction. I’ve identified the group, considered the message and spent time in prayer and fasting. I have my target events – though I have no one to join me and I’m wondering if I should wait or go ahead with it.
But that’s between God and me.
Missions to large people groups are good efforts to get involved with. But finding your micro people group and reaching them with the Good News of Jesus Christ can be exciting and can help you be a bigger part of God’s call to all of us to “go and make disciples of all nations”!
1) “The Challenge of the Unreached Peoples” by John Robb, Tuesday, November 24th, 2009, quoted in http://www.etnopedia.info/?p=254
2) Church growth in China.(Century marks)(Brief article) Industry & Business Article - Research, News, Information, Contacts, Divisions, Subsidiaries, Business Associations http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_China
4) Answers: 1) Short for a speculative fiction CONvention; 2) A major award for fantasy 1974-1980; 3) SPECulative FICtion; 4) A major award for American mystery; 5) The “people’s choice” award for spec fic; a “peer reviewed” choice for spec fic 6) A “quiet” mystery that usually doesn’t involve gruesome murder, sex or profanity; 7) The sword Wart pulled from the stone; it made him King Arthur of Camelot; 8) Agatha Christie’s main brain detective, a train that ran from Calais, France to Istanbul, Turkey. It ceased operation completely in 2009; 9) Arrakis