Mt. Bethel Project-Update No. 36

How To Start A Church Planting Movement – Community Groups – The Missing Link In Church Formation

One of the things that many people have been asking as they seek to get to multiplication is, “How does a group of people get shaped into a church?”

T4T has proposed that all group meetings consist of three parts – Sharing, Bible, and practice.  They suggest that as the group progresses the third part will fall away and the first two will be left and morph into a church service, but we have not seen examples of this happening in our Western Culture.

At our October Mt. Bethel meeting Eddie Ventura from El Remanente Church in the Bronx introduced us to the concept of the Community Group.

A “Community Group” is the key step for them in determining if a group will become a church.  Here is Eddie’s explanation of their process:

Step 1
A group made up of people who live in or near a community in which they want to plant a church will begin to meet to pray for the community and for God to plant a church in that community.

Step 2
As they pray they will ask God to reveal to them a person of peace. They will assign members of the group to look for a person of peace.

Step 3
They will find the person of peace and lead them to Christ and then through the person of peace find and lead others to Christ.

Step 4
They gather the group together and for eight weeks will do short term discipleship and a brief survey of the Gospel of John, focusing on the “I Am” statements.  They call this group a Community Group.  They purposely do not use the words “cell group” or “small group” or “church.” They call it a Community Group because that is what the original prayer group was praying for– a group in that community.

Step 5
This is the crucial step– after eight weeks of meeting they know if this group is a church or not.  If the group does not have the marks of church they invite the group attend the mother church.  But, if the group has vision to grow and if a leader emerges, they know this should be a group.  They then begin training the person who has emerged as a leader how to be a pastor.  Like Bruce Bennett, they teach this person pastoral care and the Omega Church Planting system, even while this person is beginning to take leadership over the group.

Eddie reports that El Remanente has started about eight Community Groups and three of them are becoming churches after completing the eight week short term discipleship course.

We can learn several important lessons from this:

1. The importance of a group praying for a specific community

2. The importance of the prayer group sending people out to look for the person of peace

3. The importance of leading the person of peace to Christ quickly, and then through that person identifying other people to lead to Christ

4. The importance of the immediate eight week short term discipleship in the group

5. That we are not under pressure for every group to become a church – for now they are a Community Group, and that is fine. If God wants this group to be a church, it will be clear by the end of the eight weeks.

Eddie Venture is going to write more about this process for the Mt. Bethel Update, but I believe that this step of Community Groups is an important part of the work for our culture. We do not have to start by asking people if they want to plant a church or even be part of a church plant. We only ask them to make a short term commitment, then after they have been discipled and have been walking with God, we allow God to show them and us if they should be a church.

Reports From The Field…

Report from Willie Kirchhofer at Clifton NJ, Crossroads Church

1. Englewood group – This group is now able to run on its own. I went this past Sunday for the first time in about 3 months. They meet on Sundays at 4. The group is conducted mainly in Spanish. They average about 10-16 people. The leaders Frank and his wife Rae attend Crossroads but the others do not. They have had several meetings in the Bronx also since a number of the people who attend come from there. The focus is now on training the group and developing Frank as a pastor. A next group in the Bronx makes sense but right now the people from the Bronx are in such moral compromise that it is not advisable.

2. Paterson group – I started this group in May of this year. At present I attend every week as the co-leader – a young man and his wife who attend Crossroads are being trained. I had led them to Christ on New Year’s Eve and they have stuck with it. The Leader Lenny is a natural leader and has great potential. He is 22. This week we had 9 people not counting me and Daisy. This is the highest amount yet. The group is in English and the age is 22-28. This group has great potential because of the age of the group. None go to Crossroads except Lenny and his wife.

3. New Spanish Congregation at Crossroads. Erick Collado is a very good leader and will make a good pastor, his wife Mercedes is also an good asset and they work well together. They have about 8 people regularly now in a Spanish Sunday School class and a small group. I would estimate that by Easter it will be a congregation – the goal is to keep it as a congregation of Crossroads at this point.


On Easter 2015 we are relaunching the church with a new ministry model. We will go to 2 services – 10am and 11:45am. Sunday School for children will be during the 11:45 service.  This will also simplify our system as new people will be trained in the Masters Mile discipleship program, which incorporates T4T principles. There are 3 levels and once a person finishes level 3 they will move to a point of light group (cell group). There are 7 now. People who seem able to start their own groups of unchurched people will be encouraged to do that. We will start an Adult School of the Bible with a curriculum designed to feed the ministries of the church and develop mature believers. Those who show the ability and are called will be trained in the Ministry Training Center.

Note from Pastor Willie:

Everything seems good on a report on paper but everything is extremely fragile and still in the beginning stage.  I have days I am encouraged and days I say, “What happened?”  The big issue is the deep brokenness and instability of the people. The key is to keep working the plan.  Before a crusade Billy Graham would say – I have three things to do: 1. Pray. 2. Pray. 3. Pray.

Be With Him…

“In using all means, seek God alone. In and through every outward thing, look only to the power of His Spirit, and the merits of His Son. Beware you do not get stuck in the work itself; if you do, it is all lost labor. Nothing short of God can satisfy your soul. Therefore, fix on Him in all, through all, and above all…Remember also to use all means as means-as ordained, not for their own sake…”
John Wesley

Mt. Bethel Project-Update No. 35

How To Start A Church Planting Movement – The Luke 10 Instructions – Praying For Workers

Luke 10 contains instructions on starting new churches in new communities.  These instructions have been carefully followed by many people in our generation.  Following these instructions has led to tens of thousands of new churches being planted and millions of people coming to Christ.

It is important to understand and follow the instructions of Jesus as we do His work.  In verse 1 the Lord chose the disciples that He wanted to be involved in this ministry, divided them into pairs, and sent them to the towns and villages that He (Jesus planned to visit).  All of this was preliminary to the disciples actually beginning their work in their assigned village.

Jesus had in mind thirty-five villages, and in each of these villages He had at least one person of peace waiting for the two disciples assigned to that village. But before the disciples were to actually begin their work in the village, there was one more thing they were told to do. They were instructed to pray for workers for the harvest in that village.

Praying that God would send workers into the harvest field of the village is an important step to take before starting work in any community.  Praying for workers in a specific village before starting work there has importance in a number of different ways:

1. It is a prayer that God will prepare the person of peace, not just to be receptive to the Gospel, but to be willing to be trained to reach his family and friends for Christ.

2. It is a prayer that persons reached with the Gospel will have a sense of being commissioned by Christ to reach more people.

3. It is a prayer that there will be an adequate number of workers in this town to spread the gospel in the town.

4. It keeps the people assigned to find the person of peace in the town focused on the fact that Jesus is preparing people to reach a great harvest in that town.  The assigned workers are not the primary harvesters, the people Jesus will send into the harvest field who already live in that town are the primary harvesters.

5. It keeps the assigned disciples focused on what Jesus is trying to do in that town rather than what they, the disciples, are trying to do in that town.

Mt. Bethel Leaders And Workers  Quarterly Meeting

Oct 11, 2014
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Ironia Free Methodist Church
298 Dover Chester Road
Ironia, NJ  07869

**Bring Your Own Lunch**

Our quarterly meeting for leaders and workers in the Mt. Bethel Project will be held on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014 at Ironia, NJ. Everyone who has been working in church multiplication is invited, as well as anyone interested in learning more about this work of multiplication.

The meeting will consist of both sharing and teaching. Those who have been working in different areas will share how their work is proceeding, and we will take time to pray for each project.  In addition, we will receive specific teaching on the five fields and how to implement strategies for each of the five fields.  The five fields include: The empty field, the planted field, the growing field, the harvest field and the leadership field.  Some of the teachers on October 11 will be: Storm Hutchison, Edward Ventura and Myller Olivio. We will also discuss the formation of a Mt. Bethel Board to guide our work in the future.

Plan to attend and bring your team. It is crucial that we meet together to encourage each other and pray for each other.

Be With Him…

How God the Father trusted Jesus to do his work and how he wants to trust us… “the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.”  Isaiah 53:10

Mt. Bethel Project-Update No. 34

How to Start a Church Planting Movement –Focus on Getting to a Fourth Generation Church

1. Stop training churched people - Train new Christians rather than churched people. There are church people called to this work who should be trained, but every time you train a churched person who does not start a group you are reinforcing bad patterns in their life. Believe that there are people out there who don’t know Jesus but who Jesus is calling you to train. Having a ready pool of people to train who are in the church is our biggest hindrance. We will not get to multiplication until we are training those who are today in the world but whom God is calling to plant new churches.

The resources are in the harvest not in the church!!!!

2. Submit to the simple system that God has revealed – This simple five strategy system is being used by God around the world and is the system he has revealed in the Bible. I am convinced that one of the reasons that there is not a multiplication system in the U.S. is that Americans have a difficult time adopting the simple system that God has revealed. Virtually everyone I am aware of is trying to adapt this system to the U.S. I think God is calling us to simple submission to work His system. Take the first step of submission and God will guide us to any necessary changes as we see churches multiply. There is nothing that you have to write or create from scratch. Just see what God is doing around the world and join him.

Adopt don’t adapt!!!!!

3. Do your work seeing the other side – This was a word of God to us in our Mt. Bethel leaders meeting. Everything we do is done with a vision of fourth generation believers and churches and beyond. When you find the first person of peace, see in your mind the fourth generation church that will begin with this person of peace.

See the fourth generation when you see the first!!!

4. Get to multiplication quickly – The goal is a system of multiplication, therefore, your goal should be to get to the fourth generation quickly. When we find a person of peace the goal is to get to the fourth generation new believer. When you start a new church, the goal is to get to the fourth generation church plant as quickly as possible.

Rapid Kingdom Expansion is our goal!!!

Reports from the Field

Brooklyn Living Hope – Pastor Euline Jackson attended Strategy Coordinator Training last fall and went back to her church in Brooklyn and gathered a group of six people and took them through the church planter training.

While the work has been difficult, Pastor Euline reports that their work has borne fruit.  After the training several of the participants have actively sought to find persons of peace. Three people have been led to Christ and they are now working to disciple the new believers and start new churches.

Pottsville River Church – Pastor Storm Hutchison has been leading people in Pottsville into this ministry of multiplication. He originally started with five trained church planters who were each working in a different community. Each of those five became physically ill and was unable to continue with the original plan.

Pastor Storm relates several lessons he has learned:

1. The ground is very hard – some people are dealing with fatigue
2. The work will not happen as quickly as he expected
3. Disciples are made in the harvest field

Pastor Storm reports that now they have reached third generation Christians and are looking to get to fourth generation believers. He also believes that two new churches will be started before the end of the year and that these churches will be multiplying churches.

Be With Him…

“God chooses people committed to His cause. Key workers need to remain intimately connected to God so that they might receive revelation, wisdom and discernment to know the heart of the Trinity in church planting matters.” Bruce Bennett

Beginning next issue – a full review of the seven values of church multiplication based on our two years of learning how to implement the system.

Mt. Bethel Project-Update No. 33

How to Start a Church Planting Movement –Response from Bruce Bennett on “What is a Church?”

In the previous issue of the Mt. Bethel Update I published an article on “What is a Church”  Bruce Bennett has responded to that article with the teaching below.

Dear David and the Acts 12:24 Churches,
From Bruce, called by God to be a church planter
The grace, peace, & joy of Christ be with you.

I am thrilled to hear about your co ntinuing church planting activities, plans & goals. Your discussion on groups, churches, and size is healthy. I pray for your meeting on the 11th, that God will continue looking with favour on the desires of your heart and that “God’s message will keep spreading!!”

I am encouraged about the continuing discussion of what “Church” is. Herewith further thought on this discussion.

The church can be described as the visible outcrop of the Kingdom of God in a particular location where the acts and effects of New Testament community are evidenced (as seen principally in Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-37; 12:24; 1Jn 1:3-7).

The Acts of Community in Acts 2:42-47 were disciples who were:
· Devoted to the Word
· Fellowshipping
· Breaking bread
· Praying
· Met regularly in their homes
· Had everything in common
· Sold possessions & gave to the needy
· Met regularly in the temple
· Praised God

The Effects of this Community were:
· Many wonders & miraculous signs
· People filled with awe
· Gladness
· Sincere hearts
· Disciples who enjoyed favour of all people
· The Lord added daily to those being saved

1 Jn 1: 3-7 teaches us that the Acts of Community are:
· To proclaim the Gospel
· Fellowship with Each other & God

And that the Effects of this Community would be:
· Expanding Community
· Joy Complete
· Cleansing from Sin
· Walking in the Light as He is in the Light.
(You can draw up the same type of lists from Acts 4:32-37, Acts 12 & elsewhere.)

When believers commit to the Acts of Community the Effects of Community will become increasingly abundant, and Church Planting will become as natural as the air we breathe. Then too, the discussion on the quantitative element, or the size of the church, will have to keep pace with the numbers that God will add daily to His churches.

(You can understand that there might be crossover between the acts & effects of community.)

I am honoured to receive your newsletters
Keep up the good race!!
Please pass my love and greetings to the churches.
In search of increased biblical community,

Report from Bruce Bennett’s Work</span>

I recently received Bruce Bennett’s quarterly report.  His system continues to produce amazing results. You will see that he added over 500,000 new believers in the past three months and 2069 new churches. In addition the average size of his churches has grown to 119 people.

It should be noted that these are results from his Africa project.  Bruce is also working with the Free Methodist “Impact Middle East” organization and is planting churches across the Middle East including in Israel.

Into Africa Statistics

Our ministry statistics for the Into Africa project for the quarter ending 15th June 2014 were as follows:

1. Net members grew by 558,362 to 4,500,774 an increase of 14%
2. Net churches grew by 2069 to 37,931 an increase of 5,8%.
3. Average members grew by 9,8% to 118,7 members per church

We have had extraordinary growth in Burundi which is be attributed to four main reasons:
A. A nationwide crusade conducted in collaboration with pastors from EMEC in the eastern DRC
B. An upsurge in refugees due to the instability in Sudan and Western Tanzania
C. The formation of a new denomination under the leadership of Peter Barakamphtiye
D. Insecurity in the nation due to pending elections

In terms of Church Membership, Burundi now replaces DRC as our leader. The top three nations are:
1. Burundi 835,000
2. DRC 814,000
3. CAR 789,000

Two years back, in the CAR there was a major upsurge in evangelical activity just prior to the civil war. It appeared that political instability made villagers more open to the Gospel. In some quarters there is a comparison being made with Burundi. There appears to be a pervasive uncertainty around the pending Burundi election, we must pray this does not spill over to civil unrest.

Reports From the Field-Bronx, El Remenente

Pastor Joel Guzman attended Strategy Coordinator Training last Fall. Pastor Joel decided to take his entire Sunday School class of 40 adults through the training. From that group he has sixteen core people who are called to the ministry of multiplication.  He has been training these people and meeting weekly with them. Of the sixteen people, eight became Conference Ministerial Candidates this year at Reframe Conference, and the other eight are Local Ministerial Candidates.

From this group of sixteen, seventy-eight people have been discipled, three new believers were baptized, and one of those three has led others to Christ. Pastor Joel’s group has set the following goals for their work:

1. To send more workers into the harvest.
2. To teach parents how to disciple children. Healthy families means a healthy church.
3. To be involved in mission outside their own church. At this time they have two groups that meet in the Dominican Republic. There is also a weekly discipleship group that meets by internet with one of the new Conference Ministerial Candidates from the church in the Bronx. One of the church groups in the Dominican Republic is getting ready to begin Sunday services.

Pastor Joel’s ministerial candidates have started church groups in different communities and two of these groups are ready to start Sunday services, led by the ministerial candidate that formed the group.

Be With Him…

And the things you have heard me say int the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”  2 Timothy 2:2

“Tools and plans dependent upon outsiders to teach or facilitate the movement will not multiply.  The church planter must remember everything needed for the harvest is in the harvest. This includes the teachers promised to the church in Ephesians 4.
-Nathan and Kari Shank in “Four Fields of Kingdom Growth”

Mt. Bethel Project-Update No. 32

How to Start a Church Planting Movement –Start Churches of 20 – 25 People

The first time I heard Bruce Bennett speak I was stunned by a statement I heard him make. He said that to start a church planting movement you first have to decide what a church is. He said that if you don’t know what it is you are trying to start, you can’t succeed.

Trying to define what a church is for those of us in the Mt. Bethel Project has a little different connotation. We have to answer the question: “When does a group become a church?”

One question we face is, “How many people do we have to have meeting together to be a church?” Bruce would say two or three. But in our culture, two or three is not considered a church. So I think we need to have an idea of how many people it takes to have a church as part of our definition of church.

Defining the size of a group that can be called a church is arbitrary work; it is based on cultural judgments and not on Truth. But here are a few facts:

  • Small churches are not uncommon. One half of the churches in the United States are below 75 in attendance on Sunday.
  • Small churches tend to be more evangelistic. Several studies have shown that percentage-wise small churches win many more people to Christ than larger churches.
  • People are used to more informal services so small churches do not have to wait until they have a lot of musicians to start worship services.

But here is the greatest advantage of a small church– almost anyone can gather a group of 20 – 25 people. I remember having with a conversation with another superintendent some years ago. We were talking about planting new churches. The discussion was how large of a group should a planter gather before the conference would support this as a church planting project. We were commenting that people we knew had gathered about 25 people and wanted conference support. I remember the superintendent saying, “Anyone can gather a group of 25 people.” Back then this was a statement of weakness but now I see that for a church multiplication movement, this is a statement of strength. Almost anyone can gather a group of 25 people.

So I would like to encourage you to reproduce groups of 20 – 25 people. 25 people functioning as a church can grow and plant a new church within a year, IF they train and work the five multiplication strategies.

So here is a definition of what a church looks like that we are trying to reproduce:

We are gathering groups of 20 – 25 people who become a church when:

1. There is a leader who is being trained to function as the pastor

2. They have weekly services, usually on Sundays

3. Have received members

4. Take offerings

5. The group has accountability to a board and/or an outside overseer

6. Is training and deploying people in the five strategies with the intent of starting a new church within one year

Here are a few things we should avoid if we want the group to become a church:

1. Don’t let the group turn into a weekly Bible Study. A Bible Study is a group that gathers weekly to learn but not to train to work the five strategies. It has no purpose to expand the Kingdom and the participants are not trained how to do that. Don’t just study the Bible, train regularly in how to live out the Bible in the world through training in the five strategies. Be doers of the Word and not just hearers.

2. Don’t keep the group dependent on outside leadership. Quickly develop leadership from within the group, including training a pastor.

3. Don’t let the group become self-centered. Send the people home each week with an assignment to have devotions and to talk to others (a “to do list”). Then have times each week for “meet and report” when attenders report on how they did with their “to do list.”

Reports From the Field-Mt. Bethel Leaders Set Five-Year Goals

On July 12, 2014, the leaders of the Mt. Bethel Project met at Ironia, New Jersey to share reports on their work and to plan for the future. One result of this meeting was to set five year goals for the project. After careful consideration of the progress so far, the group set the following five year goals:

1. To have 15 hubs out of which multiplication will be happening with trained Strategy Coordinators leading each hub.

2. To have 400 initiated churches

3. To have trained 400 pastors

4. To have partnered in the work of multiplication with at least two other groups

Results so far:
After two years of working at this we understand that the movement is still in its infancy and we are still learning how to work the system. Based on Timothy 2:2 the true test of getting to multiplication is fourth generation Christians and fourth generation churches.  It has been widely shown in multiplication movements around the globe that the move from addition to multiplication happens after the fourth generation.

To date, we have not reached the fourth generation for new believers or churches. But we are working towards that and have several third generation believers. Here is a summary report of where we are now:

  • Number of people who have been through the church planter training material – 80
  • Number of people who have been through the eight week discipleship material – over 100
  • Number of conversions resulting directly from Mt. Bethel efforts – about 25
  • Number of new groups/churches started – 13
  • Number of hubs where this work is being done – 4

The group continues to pray that the Lord will reveal the person who is to be the Champion of this multiplication movement.

The Mt. Bethel Leaders have also agreed to meet together three times a year. The next meeting will be held October 11, 2014.

Be With Him…

“And when they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that ther were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”  Acts 4:13

Mt. Bethel Project-Update No. 31

How to Start a Church Planting Movement –A Challenge to Trust the Holy Spirit

The persistent question that will not go away is, “Why has there been no church planting movement in the West,” when these movements have been prospering everywhere else around the globe.

One answer is that a church planting movement is just one part of  Rapid Kingdom Expansion in the West.  I have been making the case that Rapid Kingdom Expansion involves three things in the West: a church planting movement, a Christian Households movement, and a media presence that makes the case that faith, faithfulness, hospitality and encouragement are important human values.

But there is another danger lurking for the Western church that can prevent a church planting movement from happening and that is an insufficient trust in the Holy Spirit to be able to expand the Kingdom in our culture.

Specifically we lack trust that the Holy Spirit can do the following things:

1. That the Holy Spirit can transform a person in a moment after hearing a simple Gospel presentation, and that there are many people out there whom the Holy Spirit has ready and are waiting for that moment. 

I believe that a church planting movement works by finding those people who are “ready for the harvest” or ready to be “Snatched from the fire” (Jude 23).  I do not know how large this segment of the population is, but there must be many.  Jesus talked about whole fields being ready to be harvested.

2. That new Christians can share their faith, gather a group, disciple that group, and then send that group out to plant seeds of the Gospel.

Of course, the reason they can do this is that they have been discipled and that discipleship includes training in the specific behaviors that they need to complete for the Kingdom to grow.  They have been trained how to share their story and God’s story in a simple way, and they have been trained how to walk people through a discipleship lesson that someone had previously walked them through.

3. That we can disciple people in a way the produces not just knowledge but actions.

Having a goal of meeting together to produce knowledge is so much safer than meeting together to produce behaviors.  There is a much higher risk of failure if our goal is to get someone to act in a specific way. If we train someone for knowledge and nothing changes, we can still feel as if we have succeeded.  If we train someone for action and nothing changes, then we have to examine whether or not we are doing the right things in our training.  The Holy Spirit is ready to assist us in discipling people in a way that produces the actions necessary to go into new fields, sow the Gospel, lead people to Christ, disciple those people and gather them into a new church. We should take the full assistance of the Holy Spirit in our work.

4. That the Holy Spirit can form a church out of a small group of newly discipled believers.

Jesus said that wherever two or three are gathered in his name, he is there with them (Mt. 18:20). He is present through his Holy Spirit who is working in that group of people to accomplish the plans of God for each person and for the world.  Almost every church has started with a very small group of people. Whether it is a vision of one person who shares that vision with a few others, or a small group that gathers and begins to grow, all churches begin by the faith of a few.  We need greater trust that the Holy Spirit will work in our groups to shape us into churches.

Report from the Wilkes-Barre District

Dear Partners in the Gospel of Jesus,

We are part of a small network of churches with a big vision. Historically we are the Free Methodist Churches in the Wilkes Barre District of the Acts 12:24 Churches of the Free Methodist Church, USA.

But we can dispense with the long title. By the call of God, we are simply the Acts 11:12 Team. Just like Peter said in Acts 11:12, “The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going…”, so we are being prompted by the Spirit to go without hesitation.

We believe that we are to go without hesitation to place a new group or church with the spiritual DNA of multiplication in every town and city in a 17 county region of Pennsylvania. Saying “yes” to this call of God drives us to our knees in prayer.

The Acts 11:12 Team (Wilkes Barre District) is uniting in a call to prayer. In February and March 2014 we are asking our pastors to call their churches to pray for God’s Kingdom to expand rapidly.

We have provided a Prayer Guide and a PowerPoint presentation (set up as a loop for pre-service showing, but it is also able to be used as announcement slides or a sermon presentation).

The prayer has already begun in some places. So, already, glimmers of the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit are shining into our churches as the prayer is increasing.

I think of Pastor Brook Selby and Skye Rogers who recently were prompted by the Spirit to go to a little settlement of houses at a rural intersection. This site was not a marketplace teeming with people, but by supernatural non-happenstance within two minutes they were in an in-depth, God-focused conversation with a worker sent to that place to conduct a road study. Brook writes, “It was so obvious to me that this was our guy that it was easy for me to share with him.”

Or I think of two men who went on a Luke 10 Journey to the Pennsylvania Farm Show not long ago. After hours spent talking with people, they encountered two individuals from Upper Dauphin County who were spiritually receptive. Not long before, one of these brothers had driven through Upper Dauphin County and asked God to open this area to the Acts 11:12 Team.

And I can make this personal. As Good News Church has increasingly prayed for the Focus 17 initiative, I am seeing God at work in greater ways. Not long ago, as I walked into the locker room of a local gym, a man from the Sudan and I struck up a conversation. Within the first five minutes of our chat, I identified myself to him as a follower of Jesus. This tall man with a commanding presence looked at me with an intensity that nearly took my breath away, He said, “I’m very interested in this. I have recently decided that I need to develop my understanding of the spiritual side of life.” I shared my story (personal testimony) with him. He was highly intrigued. We exchanged telephone numbers and agreed to get together someday soon after work. Then he showed up at my church on Sunday with his girlfriend. I gave him the apologetics book, More Than a Carpenter.”

Here’s what I know, the more prayer that is invested in the Focus 17 Initiative, the more God is connecting us with spiritually open people. So, I’m asking you today to call your church to prayer. Share the attached bulletin insert on a couple consecutive Sundays. We’re providing it to you in two formats – a PDF version and a Word doc that you can edit if you want to personalize it to your ministry before printing it. Be aware, though, that Word docs can lose their original format if you have a different software version or if you don’t have the same fonts that our Administrative Assistant, Shari Turner, has on her computer. We have also attached the PowerPoint file that coordinates with the bulletin insert.

If you would like to have the bulletin insert mailed to you as a hard copy, please e-mail Shari at She will be happy to send this to you.

This communication is being sent to everyone on our Wilkes Barre District regular e-mail list. We are specifically asking pastors of the District to take action with it. For everyone else who receives our regular “all-interested” e-mails, we would love to have you connect with this prayer mobilization, as well.

And finally, we are sending this e-mail to more than 25 partners who told us at our Focus 17 Banquet in October that you would be part of our Focus 17 Prayer Team. Please speak with your pastor to see if you can assist in the prayer mobilization at your church.

All for Jesus,
Pastor Al Sones
District Leader – Acts 11:12 Team member
Cell: 717-319-7503

Acts 11:12 Team
Call to Prayer – It’s Time! Feb/Mar 2014

“Growing God’s Kingdom through Love in Action”

Here is our commitment:
We will train disciples to be disciple makers. We will send Luke 10 Teams on journeys, each journey supported by prayer warriors each praying at breakthrough levels; to new places (neighborhoods, towns, cities, etc); finding persons of peace; and starting new groups/churches.

Pray Acts 11:12 – “The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them.” (NIV)

  • Pray that the Acts 11:12 team will be prompted by the Holy Spirit.
  • Pray that Acts 11:12 Team will be bold to go out and speak the word of Jesus.

Pray Luke 10:1 – After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. (ESV)

  • Pray for God to show the Acts 11:12 Team where to go next in these 17 counties:
    Carbon, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lackawanna, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, Wayne, Wyoming, York.

Pray Luke 10:2 – And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. (ESV)

  • Pray that Acts 11:12 Team members will tell their story (personal testimony) and tell God’s story (plan of salvation) today.
  • Pray for God to prompt teams of two to go into new cities, towns or neighborhoods this week.

Pray Luke 10:5-6 – “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ (6) And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you.” (ESV)

  • Pray that the Holy Spirit will supernaturally prepare people’s hearts to respond to the word of God.
  • Pray that Luke 10 Teams will meet persons of peace – individuals who are spiritually open – who will invite the team to speak of the Kingdom of God to an entire relationship group.

Pray Luke 10:9 – “Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” (ESV)

  • Pray for God’s healing power to accompany Luke 10 Teams as they proclaim the Kingdom of God to a group of people.

Pray Matthew 28:19-20a – (19) “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (ESV)

  • Pray for new believers and entire households to be baptized.
  • Pray for believers to enter discipleship training and to immediately begin discipling others.
    God is calling you to be a part of His plan to unite in His partnership

    ____ I will take this Focus 17 Prayer Guide and pray through it once a week during the Call to Prayer (February/March 2014).

    Name: _____________________________________________
    Address: ____________________________________________

    Please tear off this response section and place it in the offering plate or give it to your pastor today. OR you may e-mail your commitment to pray to

Be With Him…

“Mr. Howells would often speak of ‘The gained position of intercession.’  It is a fact of experience. The price is paid, the obedience is fulfilled, the inner wrestlings and groaning take their full course, and then ‘the word of the Lord comes.’  The weak channel is clothed with authority and the Holy Ghost and can speak the word of deliverance. ‘Greater works’ are done.”     (From “ Rees Howell, Intercessor,” P. 84)

Mt. Bethel Project-Update No. 30


How to Start a Church Planting Movement: What the Holy Spirit Does to Assist in Starting a Church Planting Movement

When Jesus sent out his disciples two by two to find persons of peace, he gave them specific instructions. Some of these instructions were: they were to go to the towns where Jesus wanted to work, they were to go needy (do not take money), and they were to find the person of peace that had been prepared to hear the message of the Gospel.

The reason for these instructions is clear; to succeed in the task that they had been given they had to learn to depend on God for their success. They had to discover the town, find a person of peace, and allow that person of peace to meet their needs.  All of these require the supernatural intervention of God in human plans.

Starting a church planting movement is not something that is under the control of believers; it requires the work of the Holy Spirit in the world.  While starting a church planting movement requires specific behaviors from believers (i.e. entry strategies, Gospel strategies, discipleship strategies, church formation strategies), these behaviors are not enough to succeed.  Unless the Holy Spirit is directing us where he wants us to go, bringing the person of peace into our path, and preparing the person of peace to hear the Gospel, we cannot start a church planting movement.

Here is a brief list of additional ways the Holy Spirit works to start a church planting movement:

1. The Holy Spirit makes possible our confession of Christ in the world.

2. The Holy Spirit stirs and calls people to the work of multiplication.

3. The Holy Spirit calls and convicts the person of peace and their family and friends.

4. The Holy assists in bringing people to saving faith in Christ.

5. The Holy Spirit heals the family members of the person of peace.

6. The Holy Spirit gathers the right group of people together for training who will become the nucleus of a new congregation.

7. The Holy Spirit empowers the trainers of the new group.

8. The Holy Spirit forms a group into a church.

9. The Holy Spirit raises up leaders for the church.

10. The Holy Spirit raises up those who can start new groups, and those who can train new multipliers from the members of the new church.

A church planting movement is a supernatural process. Only those people who learn to move in the supernatural realm by becoming dependent on the Holy Spirit’s work in the world can succeed at this work.

Report From Bruce Bennett:  9,000 New Churches in the Last Twelve Months

The following paragraphs are excerpted from Bruce Bennett’s December Newsletter:

In the last twelve months we have been able to initiate 9,000 new churches bringing to total some 30,875 new VCP Churches with over three million members. This Christmas 1,3 million new VCP members will celebrate Christmas for the first time. You are part of this exciting Kingdom history.

Widows and orphans

We are teaching the churches to be socially responsible and to be mindful to Christ’s command to look after widows and orphans. Today our church registries reflect 59,144 widows and 79,555 orphans. The VCP churches across Africa take the lead in providing for the bereaved and destitute in their communities. Never-the-less they need help.

We continue to see the Lord’s hand on the Into Africa minis-tries. Our September 2013 registry records 30,875 churches, with membership at 3,066,360. The persistence and faithfulness of our Supervisors, Coordinators, Trainers, Pastors, and Denominational partners bear testimony to the faith and grace of our heavenly Father.

When Jesus walked among the crowds with his disciples he was moved to compassion because he saw the people harassed and helpless, and likened them to sheep without a shepherd. Interestingly he then said: ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the Harvest, therefore to send out workers into His Harvest Fields.’ (Mt 9:36-38)

Jesus, with an eye of faith, saw beyond the status quo , He saw His Father’s future, His Harvest Field. He mobilized his disciples to pray, not to the Lord of the status quo, but to the Lord of the impending Harvest.

God is in the business of transforming status quo and requires Kingdom workers to:

1) Have faith in the coming harvest
2) Pray to the Lord of the Harvest
3) Train Shepherds/Pastors to reap His Harvest.

Revival as evidenced in today’s Church Planting Movements will not happen when we:

1) Doubt His promise of His Harvest
2) Do not pray to the Lord of the Harvest
3) Do not intentionally train a new generation of pastors to reap Tomorrow’s Harvest

We cannot underestimate the intentionality of preparing Shepherds for Shepherdless Sheep to facilitate a Church Planting Movement. Jesus was doing this as He spoke these words to His disciples. The result was the Church Planting movement recorded in Acts. If we faithfully anticipate the Harvest & pre-pare Shepherds we will see His Harvest in our days!!!

Be With Him…

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you.”  John 15:7.  “This key text, makes it plain that the promise is unlimited, but its fulfillment depends on the abiding. That is why in all cases of intercession, Mr. Howells constantly spoke of ‘guarding his place of abiding.’”  (From, “Rees Howells Intercessor” p. 64).