In an effort to reach Unengaged, Unreached People Groups (UUPGs), Saddleback Church hosted 660 people during the Finishing the Task Conference December 5–7. Now in its fourth consecutive year at the Lake Forest campus, the event entitled “Staying the Course,” brought together a global network of mission agencies and churches working toward planting churches among every people group in the world.

By partnering together, they moved closer toward fulfilling the Great Commission through church planting initiatives and sharing the Good News around the world. The conference was attended by four groups: church-or-organizational leaders wanting to send people on mission to plant churches; resource providers raising finances or training tools; mission mobilizers promoting the engagement of UUPGs through building awareness; and prayer leaders for casting vision.

Coming from around the world—including India, Brazil, Tanzania, and South Sudan—each attendee joined either the Newcomer Track for those starting out, or the Alumni Track for those already working with UUPGs. This valuable networking opportunity allowed people to connect, discuss best practices, learn how to overcome challenges, and tap into resources on translation, strategy, and engagement.

According to Bob Bradberry, Pastor of Saddleback’s Global Team and All Africa Initiative Operations, the Finishing the Task conference accomplished several goals. “The event was very focused on defining UUPGs, where they’re located, and how to reach them,” he says. “This year we had more people commit to reaching UUPGs and collaborating regionally with alumni who are already experienced in the field.”

Setting the stage was Paul Eshleman, Director of Finishing the Task who shared vision, progress, challenges, and stories from the field. Other event highlights included keynote speakers, Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church who spoke on The Need to Preserve, and Pastor Louie Giglio of Passion City Church who shared insight on Commitment, Celebration, and Prayer. Global Missiologist and Author Nik Ripken, showcased a documentary on The Insanity of God, a film adapted from his book by that same name.

In addition to these presentations, encouraging news and statistics were shared on progress made since the inception of Finishing the Task in 2005. During the December 2017 conference alone, an additional 250 UUPGs were appointed, thus doubling the amount since the 2016 event.

Throughout the three-day gathering were breakout workshops on Partnering with the Persecuted Church, Master Plan for Engagement, Mobilizing Millennials, Prayer as Strategy, and more.

Despite these growing efforts, there is still great work to be done. Currently there are over 1,000 unengaged people groups that no one is trying to reach them. This is in part due to limited resources and the language barriers in remote areas. The timing of this Finishing the Task conference was ideal as leaders were given opportunities to connect and partner on sharing resources.

According to Pastor Bob, the success of this event has led to discussion on how to highlight Finishing the Task at the 2018 Purpose Driven Church Conference in June. For now, the next step is to encourage a new generation of leaders to engage unreached people groups.

“It’s about following through, praying for UUPGs, and engaging them with a person of PEACE to go into those neighboring provinces.”

To be part of fulfilling the Great Commission, visit

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