The Mt. Bethel Project Update-No. 13

How to Start a Church Planting Movement – Find the People Who are Waiting for You

“The harvest is plentiful” – Jesus

As you contemplate going into a new community and looking for a person of peace who can assist you in starting a new church, go with confidence in these words of Jesus, “The harvest is plentiful.”  Go knowing that there are plenty of people in that community who are waiting to hear the Gospel. Go knowing that there is a person of peace whom God has prepared and who is even now waiting for you to show up, even though they may not realize that until after it happens.

Jesus understood our reluctance to go looking for the person of peace and others who are ready to hear the Gospel. That is why in Luke 10 he asked us to pray, not for non-believers who are ready to be part of the harvest, but for workers for the harvest. It is us, the believers who need prayer to make the harvest happen. There are plenty of people who are not yet believers who are ready and waiting for us. They have already been prepared by the Holy Spirit.

What is hindering the harvest are the believers who are reluctant to “go” into new towns and communities. What if we trusted Jesus enough to believe that the harvest was plentiful? Pray for greater faith and obedience to go to new towns because we really believe that “the harvest is plentiful.”

Steps to Finding a Person of Peace

These steps that are gleaned from Luke 10 change the way that believers interact with both God and non-believers.

When you go looking for a person a peace you are putting yourself in a place in which you are not in control of what happens, and thus you are dependent on God acting supernaturally.  Much of our reluctance to “go” as the Bible says is a reluctance to be in a place where we are not in control.  Yet, it is precisely in those situations that God is more free to act in supernatural ways through our interaction with others.

It changes the way we interact with non-believers because we interact with them as the one who needs to receive, rather than that one who is there to give.  Most of our “witnessing” is done from the high-power position in a relationship.  We are there to control the conversation, to give a message and to bring change to the other person.  When we interact as we are instructed to in Luke 10, we go as a receiver of hospitality, willing to be the low-power person in the interaction.

Submission is the key to finding a person of peace.  Submission to obey God’s command to “go” and submission to the person of peace that you meet as shown by your willingness to receive their hospitality.

Here are some steps to follow:

1. Pray over a map and ask God what town or community you should go to.

2. Go two by two – for greater courage and to encourage each other.

3. Go needy – be willing to receive hospitality. “Eat what is set before you” is the sign that you are willing to receive hospitality and affirms your genuine care for the person serving you.  Avoid false humility that turns down what a person offers and avoid a sense of being in a hurry.

4. Expect to meet people who are not the person of peace. When you do be polite and move on.

5.  Announce that you have been sent to pray for the person and their family, that this can be a “God-moment” in their life.

6. Stay with the person – When God brings you to a person of peace you are making an agreement with God to invest 2-4 years in the life of that person. You will lead that person to Christ, help them make of list of people with whom they will share their salvation story immediately, and then disciple that person, train them to lead a group, and train them to train others.

Finding a Person of Peace – Al and Storm go to Boiling Springs, PA

“Finding a person of peace is made easy through prayer.”

Here is a narrative from Al Sones about his and Storm Hutchison’s attempt to find a person of peace in Boiling Springs, PA.

What transpired today was the most complete (start to finish) Luke 10 day that I’ve had so far. It seems that the more we do this, the more fully we move into the way of Jesus.  The only element that I can think of offhand from Luke 10 and Matthew 10 that did not happen was praying for the sick.

Storm met me at my office at Good News Church in Mechanicsburg, PA at 10 a.m. today. We sat in my office with maps of Cumberland County and Pennsylvania spread out before us. We talked about things of the Lord – what He is teaching us, how we are observing Him work to align the realities of a Church Multiplication movement, etc. Then we prayed for God to show us where to go, who to look for and what to do when we get there.

As we prayed, the little community of Boiling Springs came to mind. So I just named that out loud in prayer and was waiting for some confirmation from God when Storm stood up and said, “Well, let’s go.”

The point that occurs to me here is that we received word about where to go, but not really a word on who to look for or what to do. I realize in the absence of a revelation of situation-specific instructions, what we are to do is just use the Luke 10 description as the default. We always have a general outline to guide our behavior in the absence of any more specific instructions from the Holy Spirit.

Storm and I went to Boiling Springs, a small, picturesque village situated in Cumberland Valley in the shadow of the South Mountain. It is bounded by farm fields and housing developments at the intersection of two secondary roads. Boiling Springs is noteworthy for its Allenberry Playhouse and Resort, the Mid-Atlantic Office of the Appalachian Trail (which cuts across the town), a historic preservation of an old iron-smelting furnace, and, of course the “boiling springs.” You can see both ends of the village along route 174 when standing in the center of town.

Its namesake is actually the site where an underground stream that flows from the South Mountain surfaces. The water from the underground stream bubbles like boiling water as it flows out of the ground, but maintains the steady 53 degrees that is characteristic of limestone streams. The little creek that flows downstream from this site is known as the Yellow Breeches. The Yellow Breeches Creek has no “upstream.”

Storm and I had lunch at a quaint dining place known as Café 101. It overlooks a small lake in the center of the town of Boiling Springs. While we were there, I had a brief conversation with another patron who had visited Good News Church for about a month early in 2012. She was enthusiastic in her affirmation of our Luke 10 journey. But no other opportunities presented in the Luke 10 mode in Café 101.

After lunch, Storm and I walked along the sidewalk that bounds the north end of the lake in the park that it is the center of town. Immediately past the lake is a small country store. I turned the doorknob to enter the store. Storm later told me that as I did so, he heard this fleeting thought that said, “Nothing is going to happen here.” Storm concluded later that this thought was actually a ploy of Satan.

When we walked in, the proprietor looked up from behind the counter where he was waiting on a customer. He asked if he could help us and cheerfully welcomed us as we said we just wanted to look around.

We reached the back of the store where we could look out large windows that overlooked the lake. We started to browse toward the front of the store, when the proprietor, having now finished with the customer came back to the spacious store area where we stood. He struck up a conversation with us, but was initially somewhat guarded in his demeanor.

Our “conversation starter” with him was to compliment his store and ask about his business.

The conversation flowed readily to current events –the recent tragedy in Newtown, CT and the condition of our nation.

At an early point in the conversation I began to have an overwhelming sense that this store owner is a man who has had and still has people praying for him. I reported this sense to him and he immediately broke into a huge smile (that was tempered by deeply “knowing” eyes) and said, “It is with me all the time.”

The “it” is the impact of all the godly people who have spoken into his life. He said he remembers Sunday School and carried a New Testament in his pocket until he was 15.

He told us that he has not lived what he was raised to believe, but he has always known right from wrong.

He was very open to us as we told him that there is a call of God on his life. He was intrigued by Storm’s description of how the Kingdom of Jesus is expanding around the world. He said, “I hope you’re right.” We told him that we are not trying to do the American church “thing”; instead we are representing Jesus and His Kingdom. And we told Him that the Kingdom of God had come to his place today because God had heard his prayers and the prayers of others on his behalf.

He told us that he’s always thinking but struggles to figure out spiritual things. He was very open to my words that I have concluded that I need to depend on God’s revelation, not my own intellect. He also was receptive to my abbreviated testimony of my coming to a deep intellectual faith while at college.

But he was clear that he has not fully entered into the life of faith in Jesus. To Storm and me, he seems to be just at the doorway.

So we told him that he has a place in God’s plan for His Kingdom on earth. We told him that we believe that he fits the Luke 10 definition of a man of peace and that God will use him to impact people for the Kingdom.

Storm suggested to him that we would like to pray with him. He accepted that gladly. We bowed our heads for a few moments as I prayed out loud for God to lead him and his wife into the full expression of his calling on their lives. We also prayed for God to bless his business.

He asked where my church is. We exchanged contact information. He said that he’s very likely to reach out because he has a need to talk about things. He also said that he and his wife might come to Good News Church some Sunday.

I told him that I’d be glad that have him come to Good New Church, but that I would really like for him to gather some people whom he knows into his home and start a church in his home in Mechanicsburg. I told him that if he wants to start a home church I would help him. He received that and thanked me.

We told him at the very end of our conversation that Jesus tells us in the Bible that we have the authority to speak a declaration on peace on his household. So we did that and he thanked us. He actually seemed very moved that we did that.

As we drove away, Storm reported his conclusion that this is a man who was looking for us equally as much as we were looking for him.

In reflection, we realize how readily Jesus answered our prayers as we obeyed His plan set forth in Luke 10. We didn’t have to struggle long in prayer. In just ten minutes of prayer we received all the direction from Him that we needed to meet this man on this day.  And we didn’t have to search and trudge up and down streets and slog our way through numerous dead-end conversations. In the first few moments of our walking through Boiling Springs (after a hearty lunch, of course) we were engaged in a full-fledged Luke 10 process with a man of peace whose heart was masterfully prepared for our arrival.

We realized in retrospect that our day was paced in a very precise way to have us walking into this store just as a customer was leaving and there were no interruptions for our entire conversation (that was probably more than 30 minutes long – although I lost track of time during the talk).

We returned to our car and drove back to my office, debriefing as we travelled. We parked in the Good News Church parking lot, bowed our heads in prayer before exiting the car – just “sealing” the Kingdom initiatives of the day in prayer before we went our separate ways.

Storm and Al had asked many people to be praying for this Luke 10 Day. Storm has multiple prayer groups at the Pottsville Church. Al prayed with a 9:05 Prayer Team in a conference call prayer time the prior evening. Mt. Bethel Project Leader, Dave Harvey interceded for this time. A number of personal prayer partners for Storm and Al committed to praying while the Luke 10 Day was underway.

Al says that the work of finding a person of peace is made easy by prayer.

Be With Him…

In John 5:19 Jesus reveals the core of his ministry success.  He says that “the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing.”  If you see what the Father is doing and join him in that work, you will accomplish what he put you here to accomplish.  Be with Him.

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