The Mt. Bethel Project Update-No. 8

Want to start a church multiplication movement?  Start training “hospitalitists” instead of pastors.

“Christianity spreads through the hospitality of believers”

During my recent hospital stay I was introduced to a new word—“hospitalist.”  When I first heard the word I thought it was a strange and awkward word; it sounded dumb.  It turns out that a “hospitalist” is a doctor who works only with patients who have been admitted to the hospital and the hospitalist is trained to make a quick and accurate diagnosis of the illness of someone about whom they usually know very little. The hospitalist works with a physician’s assistant and together this team enters into intensive work to understand a problem and then prescribe a plan to restore the patient to health. I came to learn that this hospitalist concept broke my stereotypes of the typical hospital doctor.  My experience had been that a hospital doctor would come into the room, ask a few questions, make a few notes on a chart, and prescribe some pills and leave.  But thanks to the hospitalist and her assistant I had a very different experience.  I learned more about my health in a few days from them than I had learned in years of regular doctor visits. I learned about both short term and long term issues in my health and was presented a path to deal with those issues.  By the time I was discharged I came to have great appreciation for the hospitalist and her assistant who worked together vigorously on my behalf.  I also came to appreciate how this hospital has successfully reframed the role of hospital doctor. They are so serious about this reframing of the traditional doctor’s role that people in the hospital rarely use the word “doctor” when referring to a hospitalist.

I have been thinking about this in terms of the use of the word “pastor.” If the Gospel spreads through hospitality, why don’t we train “hospitalitists” (not “hospitalists”) instead of pastors. Perhaps we could reframe the role of pastor in much the same way that the term hospitalist has reframed the role of the traditional hospital doctor. Would there be a difference in the people we train if we told them we were training them to spread the hospitality of Jesus in the world rather than telling them we are training them to be a pastor? Would there be a difference if instead of deploying pastors we deployed “hospitalitists?”  I realize that it is a strange and awkward sounding word–even dumb, but maybe the hospital was on to something significant.

Putting Bruce Bennett’s system into our cultural context

I am indebted to a conversation between Storm Hutchison and his coach Dan Greider for helping me put some of the thoughts in the above section into words. We are continually seeking for God to show us the ways in which we need to contextualize a multiplication movement. Dan Greider (who is the speaker for our Multiplication Training Event in March) suggests that part of the contextualization process will be helping people to unlearn some of the things that the church is doing that are preventing multiplication. He believes that our concept of the role of pastor is one of the things we need to unlearn.

Storm is putting some of the ideas on paper that he and Dan have been working on.  We will include more of this discussion in future updates.

Sign up for the Mt. Bethel Prayer Team

I have learned since starting this work that church multiplication can only succeed if we build a spiritual base for our physical actions. The battle is won in prayer before it is won in a new community. I am asking you to be part of the Champion’s Prayer Team that would fast one meal a week to pray for me and for all the people involved in the project. Bruce Bennett has said that this project needs to be led by a Champion. I am serving in that role until the Lord reveals the permanent Champion.  But we all need God’s protection and provision. Satan has been battling this project in various ways, and we need your prayer support.  Please respond with an email to me at if you can be part of the prayer team.

Last call for the sharing your story event

I am scheduling a time for a peer learning event in the second week of December. We will meet Waverly Community Church, 101 Carbondale Rd, Waverly, PA, from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. This church is just a few minutes off Interstate 81.

I am using to choose the best day for this meeting. Please click on this link: and select which day would be best for you to attend. I believe you will have to enter your name and then select which day(s) you would be available to attend

You are welcome to bring anyone from your church with you. Lunch will be provided.

Please fill out the form by this coming Monday, November 26, 2013.

Where God is at work… or, “Learning to see the footprints of Jesus in new communities”

We are told in various ways in Scripture that we should “follow in His steps.”  We go into new communities confidant that Jesus has been there before us preparing the way (see Paul at Troas, 2 Cor. 2:12).  We need to develop skills that enable us to “see” where Jesus has been. Here are some brief updates on our recent work in new communities.

Casa de Oracion, Clifton New Jersey – Camilo and Myllar have started a class to train new church planters and they now have established two new groups (“initiated churches” in Bruce Bennett’s lingo). They have established groups in Bayonne, NJ and in Patterson, NJ. Each of these groups has a person of peace who will become the leader.  Camilo has a model in which he trains pastors and while he is training these pastors he (Camilo) forms new groups in the communities in which the class members live.  He then makes the person in his class who lives in that community the pastor of the new group. Camilo has successfully done this many times in Venezuela.   This system will multiply when the pastors of the new groups start their own pastor training class and the form new groups out of that class, replicating the method Camilo has used.

Shamokin, Pennsylvania – Al Sones, along with several other people, has made two trips into Shamokin to see if God would reveal a person of peace. While they met a number of people and had significant conversations with them, they did not find the person of peace.  In the meantime, Shari Turner from the Nescopeck church had enrolled her son in the Shamokin School district because of the support the school district has for her son’s needs.  While talking to a school administrator Shari shared that she felt God had brought her to Shamokin to start a Christ-centered support group for parents of children who had the same needs as her son. This public school administrator immediately responded to Shari by saying, “That’s not what I hear from God when I pray. I hear that God brought you to Shamokin to start a church.”  The public school administrator had been praying for a new church in the town. We now have a new group (initiated church) in Shamokin.

Al Sones describes this group as starting not by the person of peace model, but by the Cornelius model.  God called someone into the town to start a church through the prayers of someone already in the town.

Port Carbon, Pennsylvania – Storm Hutchison and Al Sones set aside a day to seek a person of peace in a new community. They met in the morning and prayed until Jesus revealed the community that they should go into.  As they prayed God revealed to Al a physical attribute of the person they were to meet. They left and went to that community.  They encountered a number of people through the day but none was the person of peace. Later in the day as they were walking down a street in the town they encountered a mother and her little children who were facing a menacing Rottweiler dog.  As they were trying to intervene in this situation a neighbor came out of a house to assist them.  As they talked with this neighbor it was clear he was open to the message of Jesus.  He invited them into his house where they told him about Jesus and prayed for family members who were sick.  Perhaps this is the man of peace.  Pray for Storm as he follows up on this.  And by the way, yes the man did have the physical characteristic God had revealed to Al in the morning.

We can learn more about the details of these and other stories about seeing the footprints of Jesus in new communities at our meeting in the second week of December.

Thirty New Church Planters in Training – While I don’t have a firm number yet on how many people are currently in training to plant a church through the Mt. Bethel Project, I am confident that there are at least thirty people in training classes. Virtually all of these people are currently lay people who have some sense of God’s call on their life.

Be With Him…

We should be with him so that we know what to do when we go into a new community.

Here are Al Sones’ three questions to ask Jesus when you go into a new community:

1. Where should we go?

2. Who should we look for?

3. What should we do?

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