Ex-marine Sergeant, Ed Aw, tells how successful military operations require both commanders and front-line troops to consult accurate maps. Maps enable a commander’s staff members to plan strategies for “beans, bullets, and bandages” to supply front-line troops with food, fighting equipment, and care of their wounded. An effective battle strategy becomes evident by identifying on maps the enemy strongholds, types of terrain, friendly encampments, and prisons holding innocent civilians. During combat, field-level soldiers update their maps and pass them up to their commanders who make strategic adjustments, revising plans to move ahead, to defeat the enemy, and to set their captives free. How much more important are soldiers of Jesus, who battle to recapture territory subjugated by the evil one and to set his captives free! Maps help us see the ripened fields, plan the harvest, assign workers, state objectives concisely for specific areas, and allot resources (Matt. 9:35-38; John 4:35).
Some churches and mission agencies wisely invest time, funds and personnel in demographic, cultural and social research, producing statistics and charts that help create vision, lay strategies, co-ordinate efforts, evaluate outcomes and realign plans to realities. If your organization cannot afford such investment, then a few workers should plan to spend at least five per cent of their ministry time in field research. A practical way to do so is with paper and pencil, drawing and revising maps. For example, a worker in India who oversees a church-planting movement across an entire state keeps updating a map of all the districts of the state. It displays:
- Numbers and locations of baptized believers in each district.
- Numbers and locations of Hindus, Muslims, etc.
- Numbers and locations of house churches and traditional congregations.
- Numbers, names and locations of leaders by district, region, postal code, etc.,
- Additional details as needed.
Workers at each level of leadership draw and consult maps of smaller areas showing more details. The leader over a particular village or house church draws a map to show:
- Geographical features such as streets, rivers, lakes, mountains, railroads, and highways.
- Mosques (using a crescent moon as a symbol), Hindu temples (om symbol).
- Traditional congregations (triangle with a cross); house churches (circle with a cross inside).
- Potential house churches (round circle with NO cross in it yet).
- Arrows from “mother” churches to “daughter and grand-daughter” churches.
- Distances between house churches.
- Dates when house churches started or plan to start.
In training sessions, help workers make useful maps that focus by faith on potential house churches by marking them on the maps, revealing family and friendship networks. Let maps display:
- Family names.
- Number of people in each home (Noting names enables specific prayer).
- Prayer needs.
- Date on which they will visit each home or send someone else to do so.
Anyone who has brought a house church leader to Jesus should help the new leader make a neighbourhood map. Download the simple map-making booklet from:
A4-sized paper: http://www.paul-timothy.net/docs/harvest_mapping_a4.pdf
Letter-sized paper: http://www.paul-timothy.net/docs/harvest_mapping_ltr.pdf
Ed Aw can format your translation for you, if you send it to email@example.com. Both sides of this booklet are the same, so that a worker can make notes on his map on one side, and keep the other side clean to photocopy for other workers.
All leaders, from home church leaders on up, need someone to whom they report (Exodus 18:22 and 2 Timothy 2:2). The leaders who hear these reports should often review the workers’ maps and consolidate relevant details into their own, higher-level maps.
You will find maps very helpful in coaching leaders. A worker’s map can hold valuable information that one misses in conversations. Maps expose gaps and weaknesses in workers’ strategy plans and efforts, making obvious what needs correction. Maps also provide specific items to discuss and from which to improve strategies. For instance, knowing the location of the opposition’s strongholds (mosques, pagan temples. etc.) is critical to strategic planning. You might arrange for prayer walks around these fortresses, asking the Lord to bind the strongman so that you may set his captives free.
George Patterson reports, “A turning point in our Honduran work came when pastors began taking serious initiative to plant churches. They drew a map of their area on a large piece of cardboard noting every village and urban area that lacked a church. They also noted “mother churches” and drew arrows from them to potential “daughter churches” with names of potential workers beside the arrows. Workers then added arrows to granddaughter churches and so on, until a plan emerged to reach every village and neighbourhood. Details changed over the years, but the original vision depicted on the map remained a major motivating force that God used to keep them on track.”
Maps of this type prove powerful in our battle for souls. Israelites scouted out the Promised Land before Joshua led the Lord’s army into it. Please remember that some workers in your organization should dedicate at least five per cent of their time to research; simple maps simplify this and facilitate effective coaching of workers at every level.