History of the Intercultural institute for Contextual Ministry
IICM was founded by Dr. Curt Watke on July 25, 2003 as a non-profit, religious organization that focuses on research, training, and resource development to facilitate missional multiplication across North America and beyond. Since most ministry leaders were not familiar with the "missional" conversation in 2003, the first steps were building missional awareness and then subsequent years included significant experimentation in research, training, and resourcing. Everything that has been created since 2003 has been field driven -- meaning the development has occurred at the request and as a result of input from ministry and missional practitioners.
2003-2004: Building Missional Awareness
Through a large number of workshops and speaking engagements, Dr. Curt Watke addressed missional, intercultural, and contextual issues across the United States. During this time many leaders were just beginning to become aware of the need to approach ministry from a missional perspective.
2005-2007: Training Missional Strategists and iFocus Church Development
During these years several denominational leaders received extensive missional strategist training. Also, pastors and lay people from more than fifty churches participated in Missional Strategy Development processes in iFocus group training events. A number of research reports were created using syndicated demographic data. Several congregational surveys were also created that measured:
- the cultural distance between the church and the community and the extent of compatibility with community population segments
- the reproductive capabilities of the congregation to replicate itself through the muliplication of new believers, spiritual leaders and congregations
- the extent of contextuality in spirituality, worship styles, discipleship, fellowship, evangelism, ministry & organization
- the imbalances in organizational culture, missional values, mentoring ideals, and church designs that cause the church to lack the capacity for missional leadership development
Demographic data and congregational data were combined to:
- to measure the percentage of each community population segment that is a member of the church - which measures the extent to which the church has penetrated cultural groups in the community
- to clarify for the congregation the most winnable segments, those segments with the most growth potential, those segments with
- the most developmental potential, and those segments with the greatest mission opportunity for the congregation
- to complete a missional analysis of the church & community cultural groups and provide a suggested framework for reaching each group
2007-2008: Customized Online Survey and Zipcode Research Report
Based on the Ephesians 4:1-16 passage, an APEPT online survey was created using insights from biblical studies, social psychology, organizational behavior, and missiological principles to provide individual believers with an assessment of their strengths in the apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, pastoral, and teaching missionary functions.
A customized Missional Zipcode Catalogue was created that gave detailed information related to a specific population segment within a zip code.
2009-2010: APEPT Missionality Training & Customized Research Reports
During this period, extensive training related to the APEPT was created along with 12 hours of training for each of the five missional roles: apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, pastoral and teaching.
Using syndicated survey data, an algorithm was created to isolate the top unreached locations across the United States. By identifying the top locations where the most unreached households and least number of active evangelicals may be found, over 5000 locations for church planting were located. A number of reports were created including: a MissionPoint report, an extensive MissionSite report and MissionSite Digest, a Missional Zipcode Digest, a Missional County Digest and others. These reports have been used by many denominational groups as the basis for developing their church planting processes.
2011-2012: Impact Web Sites in Partnership with State Denominational Groups & Missional Resource Training
To help facilitate access to the various customized reports that were delivered to state denominational groups, impact web sites were created. More than fifteen impact websites were created to facilite usage by leaders across the state. Training based on case studies was provided to equip ministry leaders in the application of the various reports to a variety of missional situations.
2013-2014: Ethnic Segmentations, Customized Reporting & Lay Missionary Training
During these years, IICM in association with SlavnikLabs, took a bold step in moving away from syndicated demographic data to developing customized demographic and other kinds of databases on its own. SlavnikLabs has provided licensing to IICM for all of its more than 26000 variables at geographic levels from the block group on up. A new composite segmentation with 64 segments was created within six community types: upscale, mainstay, working, country, aspiring, and urban. Ethnic segmentations within these six community types were also created including: Black, Hispanic, White, Asian, Native American and Pacific Islander. Customized reporting at the zipcode and county level were created.
The ten2training.org site was launched that features more than 200 customized on-site workshops for training community missionaries. Training for lay missionaries in intercultural issues began during this time. In addition, missional strategy training was developed for equipping mission committees in churches who manage their missionary efforts.
2015 - present: Missional Expansion in the Present and Beyond
At the present IICM is embarking on a quest to move its training and resourcing to the grassroots level where community missionaries and leaders will explore their community cultures, will be equipped to do missional ministry, will engage places, peoples and participants, and will expand their missional ministry competency and capacity. At this type several initiatives are being pursued simultaneously:
- Develop impact sites for local cities and areas in cooperation with local leaders
- Expand IICM equipping and resourcing among all churches including Hispanic and Black churches and leaders
- Launch the online Missional University to train the grassroots missional leaders of today and tomorrow