Person of Peace

I had a dream of two white guys coming to my home...

Paul

Paul

We normally think of a person of peace (Luke 10:1-11) as someone far from God who welcomes the messenger, the message, and signs up for the mission of reaching their community. Sometimes the person of peace is already a believer, and God uses the messenger to activate them. 

This just came in from Russell Godward:

My teammate Steve and I were out visiting homes on a nearby housing estate in Tilbury. Something we do together every Wednesday.

We connect and care for people by offering to pray for them, then ask "Can we tell you how we came near to God?" Typically 60% of people say yes when we offer to share in this way, so we go ahead and share the gospel with them using the 3 Circles.

That morning we were having a great time and decided to visit just one more home before lunch. So we knocked on Paul's door. 

His sister-in-law answered with Paul quickly joining us. We prayed for them and shared the gospel. There and then we invited them to follow Jesus and discovered they are already believers. In fact, Paul's sister-in-law had been wanting to go out onto their estate to share the gospel with people but was unsure how to do this, so had prayed that morning that God would show her how to do this. Then we knocked on her door! 

Steve and his wife began meeting with the whole family to teach them the 'Commands of Jesus' and train them to make disciples. 

Over the weeks Paul was able to free up the time to join us every Wednesday connecting with people and sharing the gospel. He has become a faithful servant sharing the gospel with many people in his town.

Recently Paul and I traveled to train in another UK city. On the way home he shared he had dreamt that two white guys came to his home and invited him to follow them, and the Lord had told him he should go with them. He reminded me of the day we met on his doorstep, and told me that I was the man he saw in his dream!

There are God-prepared people in your community waiting for you right now. How will you find them?

7 Ways to narrow the conversion-discipleship gap

Healing on the Streets

Healing on the Streets

Recently we looked at the great job Healing on the Streets is doing of connecting with people and sharing the gospel. Thousands have come to faith in Coleraine, Northern Ireland.

Yet there’s a gap between conversions and people who are continuing as disciples. Once we start sharing the gospel, it’s a problem we face. A few thoughts about what to do. . .

1. Expect people to fall away

Jesus told the parable of the soils (Mark 4) because he knew through his own experience that many people encounter him, begin the journey and then turn back.

A dramatic healing will not guarantee that people will follow Jesus as disciples. Start reading one of the Gospels, you won’t be reading long before you find an example of a miracle followed by unbelief. Ten lepers healed on the street, only one returned to thank Jesus.

It’s not your fault.

2. Healing is not the endgame

Jesus healed because he had compassion on people. But healing doesn’t make a disciple. Only the gospel does that. The goal is disciples, not just healings.

3. Count baptisms not "conversions”

According to Jesus, you make disciples by baptising them and teaching them to obey everything he has commanded.

Today we’re not convinced that someone is a true follower of Jesus unless they have put their hand up or prayed a prayer. In the New Testament, they weren’t convinced until someone was baptised. Baptism always followed the decision to repent and believe.

4. Teach them to obey what Jesus has commanded

Stop trying to get someone to attend your church. Start teaching them to follow and obey what Jesus has commanded. Begin with a simple tool like the 7 Commands of Christ. Meet with them, preferably in their home with any friends and family they can muster.

Discipleship always leads to church. Attending church doesn’t always lead to discipleship.

5. Try healing in the home

Jesus always went looking for people of peace (Luke 10, 19) who welcomed he messenger and the message and linked them both to a relational community. Healing on the streets is a great way to get started. But if you’re not finding houses of peace, you may want to try offering to pray for people in their homes.

6. Tackle the problem with movement principles

We don’t start training by teaching principles. We start by teaching obedience to Christ’s command to make disciples. But once you’re out there doing just that, you will encounter obstacles. Sometimes more of the same won’t change things. You need to see the obstacle through movement eyes and apply principles under the leading of the Holy Spirit.

To deal with the obstacles in the context of the big picture learn from these two movement pioneers. I can also recommend What Jesus Started: Joining the Movement, Changing the World.

7. Get back to basics

When all else fails, why not read through the gospels and Acts multiple times as a team, while you’re praying and fasting for a breakthrough. Meet and share what you are learning from what Jesus did and what the risen Lord continued to do in Acts.

Related

Shall we follow Jesus, or listen to learned men?

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Everywhere I go from Nairobi to New York people are out looking for people or houses of peace. Following Jesus’ example and instructions they are out looking for people who welcome the message and the messenger, and open the door for the gospel to enter their relational world.

Searching for people of peace is just about a universal practice among movement pioneers around the world.

Unfortunately some learned men have discovered this practice and are now raising concerns. I guess that’s their job. They are questioning whether it’s legitimate to follow Jesus’ missionary practices today.

Can we really rip out Jesus' example from its first century context and apply it today?

I’m tempted to say, why don’t you just try it and see? But maybe it’s time to explain a little more. I may never convince the learned men, but at least we’ll be clearer about why we do what we do.

Let’s start with, should we follow Jesus missionary practice today? I can hear you say, of course we should follow Jesus’s example! Well, when was the last time you spat in the dirt, formed it into mud and spread it on someone’s eyes? When was the last time you paid your taxes by removing a coin from the gut of a fish you’d just caught? When you go on mission do you always walk and refuse to take any money with you?

Some of what Jesus did was appropriate to his context. Some of his actions were never meant to be followed woodenly. Look at the instructions he gave, now compare them with his encounter with the woman at the well, or with Zacchaeus, or the demoniac. Jesus didn’t always obey his own instructions. Every encounter is different.

So let’s agree, Jesus instructions and example are not to be followed blindly. What matters are the principles. Why else did the Gospel writers preserve these instructions and examples in such detail? Matthew, Mark and Luke all record Jesus' instructions to his disciples on mission.

Luke, for instance, places the instructions to the Seventy (Luke 10:1-12) at the beginning of Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem Much of Luke’s gospel is taken up with Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51-19:28). At the end of the journey Jesus enters the house of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). Luke is giving us the pattern of how Jesus (and the disciples he trained) entered a town and found a house of peace. In the story of Zacchaeus, Luke shows how Jesus applied his own instructions. Luke is saying, this is typical of what Jesus did and how he trained his disciples on mission. No two examples are exactly the same, but there is a pattern and we need to learn from it.

Luke knows what his is doing. He can’t record everything Jesus did, he selects the most important material for us to know. We are to watch and learn from Jesus’ example. That’s why he devotes so much space to explaining the mission practice of Jesus and his disciples.

Luke shows us what Jesus did and what he trained his followers to do. And just in case we missed it, he shows us again in the book of Acts. Compelled by the Holy Spirit, Peter enters the house of Cornelius, applying the same principles that Jesus modelled and taught (Acts 10). It’s so important that Luke repeats this story three times.

Paul applied these same principles in his mission. He knows the stories about Jesus and the accounts of Jesus’ teaching that eventually formed the Gospels. Paul applies what he has learned from Jesus to his own ministry.

I’m not going to tell you what those principles were. I’m going to give you an assignment.

Read Luke 10:1-12; Luke 19:1-10; Acts 10.

  1. Make two lists: a. What did the messenger do? b. What did the person of peace do?
  2. What do you learn from Jesus’ instructions and the examples?
  3. Distill the principles.
  4. Go and do likewise.

That’s the best answer to learned men who question whether you should follow Jesus’ example.

Related

093-Searching for a house of peace in Leicester, UK

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In this podcast you'll hear reports from the Leicester Mission (July 6-11, 2015).

Our aim was to apply what Jesus taught his disciples to do in finding houses of peace. Fred Campbell unpacks a house of peace search. Nick Duffy (Manchester) and Russell Godward (Essex) talk about how they took the lessons they learnt in Leicester and applied them back home.

Find out more about the 3Circles gospel presentation which was mentioned in the podcast.

UPDATE: My report on the Mission Week including some of the nuts and bolts.

Going door to door

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A member of the Following and Fishing forum posted this question,

How are your experiences with going from door to door? What did you say? How did it normally go? I think I would like to start it, but when I did it three years ago I was having a very difficult time and since that never done it in a western context again...

Here’s my thoughts

1. Don’t rule it out.

If post-modernism has taught us anything it’s that there is no single “Western context”. 

We’ve just moved to the EastEnd in London. Outside our door is a myriad of “contexts”. Hipsters, Bangladeshi Muslims, Bangladeshi hipsters, old time EastEnders, Filipinos from Barcelona, single mums on welfare, single mums on drugs. Ten minutes away is Hackney, that’s Afro-Caribbean. Across the city there are Poles, the French, Nigerians, Nigerian Muslims, Nigerian lapsed Christians, Nigerian hipsters.

How do you find out what works in your “context”? Try knocking on one hundred doors and see what happens. 

2. Don’t go alone.

No need to explain. Just don’t go alone.

3. Learn from best practice.

Listen to people who have done it and learn from the best. Start with Jesus. How did he enter an unreached community of strangers? What does that look like today.

Here’s a couple of great podcasts with people who regularly visit unreached communities.

Scattering to Gather

On the frontline with Ray Vaughn

God, give us Austin Texas or we die!

4. Begin with the end in mind.

Why are you knocking on doors? From a movements perspective the end game is a “person of peace” leading to a new group of people gathered around the Scriptures learning to follow Jesus. If going door to door gets you there — do it. If not, try something else. The best practitioners know the end game and keep trying until they find the most effective way to get there.

If someone tells you it won’t work, ask them if they have a better proven method that does.

Going door to door

NewImage

A member of the Following and Fishing forum posted this question,

How are your experiences with going from door to door? What did you say? How did it normally go? I think I would like to start it, but when I did it three years ago I was having a very difficult time and since that never done it in a western context again...

Here’s my thoughts

1. Don’t rule it out.

If post-modernism has taught us anything it’s that there is no single “Western context”. 

We’ve just moved to the EastEnd in London. Outside our door is a myriad of “contexts”. Hipsters, Bangladeshi Muslims, Bangladeshi hipsters, old time EastEnders, Filipinos from Barcelona, single mums on welfare, single mums on drugs. Ten minutes away is Hackney, that’s Afro-Caribbean. Across the city there are Poles, the French, Nigerians, Nigerian Muslims, Nigerian lapsed Christians, Nigerian hipsters.

How do you find out what works in your “context”? Try knocking on one hundred doors and see what happens. 

2. Don’t go alone.

No need to explain. Just don’t go alone.

3. Learn from best practice.

Listen to people who have done it and learn from the best. Start with Jesus. How did he enter an unreached community of strangers? What does that look like today.

Here’s a couple of great podcasts with people who regularly visit unreached communities.

Scattering to Gather

On the frontline with Ray Vaughn

God, give us Austin Texas or we die!

4. Begin with the end in mind.

Why are you knocking on doors? From a movements perspective the end game is a “person of peace” leading to a new group of people gathered around the Scriptures learning to follow Jesus. If going door to door gets you there — do it. If not, try something else. The best practitioners know the end game and keep trying until they find the most effective way to get there.

If someone tells you it won’t work, ask them if they have a better proven method that does.