Earlier this year I traveled to Orlando Florida to run a workshop on church planting movements. That’s where I met Neil Perry.
Neil was the pastor of a growing church who found himself preoccupied with “butts on seats” rather than making disciples. Enter Jeff Sundell who had spent ten years in India and Nepal learning how to fuel church planting movements. Jeff was now back home in North Carolina applying what he’d learned.
Over a three hour cup of coffee at McDonalds Jeff turned Neil’s life around.
One of the new believers in Neil’s church was Chuck Cole, a former crack cocaine dealer who had run a prostitution ring in his basement. Chuck had left that all behind to follow Jesus. With Jeff’s help Neil took him aside and taught this former crack dealer to make disciples and plant churches.
One former contact knocked on his door and said, “Hey you’re mowing your lawn and you own a car. Crack addicts don’t cut their lawn and own their own car! What’s changed?”
Another couple got touch with Chuck and his wife because the police had come to arrest them and they needed someone to come and take care of their baby.
Now Chuck runs a simple church for his former friends and associates in his basement where he once sold cocaine and ran prostitutes.
Neil Perry is still leading the church he planted but instead of counting backsides on seats he’s baptising new believers, making disciples and teaching them to make disciples and plant churches. I recorded Neil's story, it's just five minutes of amazing testimony to what God can do.
Whenever I tell a story like Neil's the response is normally, "that won't work here." Doesn't matter where Neil is, or where they are, it just won't work "in our context."
I'm not sure if this response springs from a lack of faith, or resistance to change, or both.