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January 18, 2022
April 11, 2023

Future Vision Coming into View: An Overview of the 100 UPG Cooperative

Three different churches. Three different cities. One vision. One desire.

The 100 UPG Cooperative is a partnership of churches, ministries, and leaders that aims to accelerate the fulfillment of the Great Commission by catalyzing church planting movements in 100 unreached people groups (UPGs). This feature seeks to answer some commonly asked questions about the Cooperative and how The Austin Stone plays a part in this initiative.

How do the 100 UPG Cooperative partners work together?

Through relationships of trust and formalized agreements, these churches, ministries, and leaders coordinate with each other in recruiting, training, sending, and supporting goers to catalyze church planting movements as well as mobilize others to do to the same.

When is a people group considered to be unreached?

Missiologists generally agree that a people group is “unreached” when there is less than 2% of evangelical christians among a people group as well as less than 5% professing “Christians” of any sort (including nominal Christians, Catholic, Orthodox, etc.). An unengaged unreached people group is a subset of an unreached people group wherein there is no Christian team in residence among them aspiring to plant churches in the language and culture of the people group.

What is a church planting movement?

A church planting movement is the rapid multiplication of churches planting churches—and disciples making disciples—within a given people group or population.

In his book Church Planting Movements, David Garrison does an excellent job defining a church planting movement (or CPM): "A CPM is a rapid and multiplicative increase of indigenous churches planting churches within a given people group or population segment.” A church that reproduces becomes a movement when there are multiple streams of fourth-generation churches. In simple language, this means that in a movement there are multiple occurrences of a church planting a church that plants a church that plants a church (and so on) within a given people group or population segment.

While disciple making and church planting movements have been around since Pentecost, the sheer number of movements in the last 20 years has increased drastically. There are an estimated 1,371 active church planting movements in the world today, encompassing an estimated 4.1 million churches and 79 million believers.

How do you define a church?

A group becomes a church when they meet the following requirements:

The group is two or more people (Matthew 18:15-20).
They gather regularly as baptized believers in Christ (Matthew 28:18-20).
They gather to proclaim Scripture and worship Christ (1 Corinthians 14:26).
They gather to serve each other and those outside the church (Hebrews 10:24-25, 1 Corinthians 14:24-25).
They administer baptism and the Lord’s supper (Matthew 28:17-20, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

How did the Cooperative start? Who is involved in the Cooperative?

In 2014, The Austin Stone began asking God for a greater vision for the unreached. At the same time, God was also giving Redeemer Church in Lubbock and The Village Church in Dallas/Fort Worth an even deeper desire to see Jesus known among unreached people groups. Through much prayer and discernment, these churches linked arms with Frontiers, Launch Global, and Reliant Mission to form the 100 UPG Cooperative. We have also recently added The Well in Austin, TX and have several more churches taking next steps of formal partnership.

Why is this a helpful strategy for reaching the unreached, instead of operating independently?

The 100 UPG Cooperative pursues greater cooperation between churches and ministries to leverage each other’s strengths in working toward the Great Commission. Instead of having churches navigate the complex world of missions on their own, the 100 UPG Cooperative helps by actively and strategically placing goers on church planting teams among unreached people groups.

By revising the traditional model of missions, the 100 UPG Cooperative seeks greater efficiency, less overlap, and stronger synchronization between necessary mission services, systems, and entities.

Three key components of the strategy:

Send more effective goers and teams: creating a pathway for churches to work together to engage in the Great Commission and send goers.

To promote better in-field experiential training: coordinating the flow of goers to language and learning Hubs in a cross-cultural setting to practically gain skills, work with a team, and refine vision and strategy.

To provide enhanced support for the goers: caring for goers through our Field Office Team, Care Hubs, and Care Coaches to ensure goers are healthy, happy, and holy while serving overseas.

What has God done through the Cooperative thus far?

Since 2017, we have seen God bless and establish the work of the Cooperative by catalyzing three church planting movements among unreached people groups! We hope you will join us in praising God for his faithfulness and in asking Him to continue doing abundantly more than all we could ask or imagine.

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