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)


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