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Church Planting: Finding a Person of Peace

Church Planting: Finding a Person of Peace

An old man sat on the edge of the road approaching the village. When he saw me (David), he started. He slowly stood up and came to meet me.

“Finally!” he exclaimed, “You are finally here.” Before I could say anything he took my arm and pulled me into the village.

“Here is the man I told you about,” he told people as he pulled me along. “Here is the man I dreamed about every night for the last twenty years. My dreams told me that we must listen to everything this man tells us.”

I shared the Gospel, and a church now meets in the village. God is at work in people’s hearts even before we walk into their lives. According to this man, God has told him twenty years earlier that I was coming to his village. Funny thing is, twenty years before that moment, I was studying to be an engineer. I had no desire and no call at that time to be a minister or a church planter.

Making disciples and planting churches is easier if you’re working with God and the people He has prepared rather than trying to force the Gospel on people who aren’t ready.

Engage a community and then find the Person of Peace. Actually, if we do things right, the Person of Peace finds us. Learning how to be found is the key.

The Person of Peace is not simply a good person or hospitable person or friendly person. There are many people in every culture who are good, hospitable, or friendly, but are not the Persons of Peace.

The Person of Peace is the one God has prepared to receive the Gospel into a community for the first time.

There are two major categories of Persons of Peace – some are Persons of Peace by nature, and some become Persons of Peace as a result of God’s direct intervention in their families or communities. There are numerous examples of both in the Bible. Cornelius and Lydia are representatives of the “Person of Peace by nature” category. The Philippian jailer and the Samaritan woman at the well are examples of those who became Persons of Peace through God’s direct intervention.

In all these examples, however, the disciple-makers were conspicuously spiritual people who lived out their faith without apology. This is the secret to finding the Person of Peace. We must live out our faith as conspicuously as possible. This is not about being religious. It’s about being spiritual.

God condemns being religious. Look at how Jesus related and spoke to the religious leaders of His day and how God spoke through His prophets in the Old Testament. Religion was not well thought of or supported by Scripture.

God has a tremendous amount to say to us about being spiritual – rightly relating to God and His creation through a personal relationship with Him. This is about faith and living it out in all circumstances regardless of consequences. It is about loving God and loving people. It is about obedient thinking and living. This kind of life draws in people who are interested in spiritual matters and opens the door to communities for establishing obedient bodies of believers whose Head is the Lord Jesus Christ.

We have to unconditionally live out a spiritual life to make evangelism and disciple-making happen.

So, in reality, finding the Person of Peace is more about us and the way we live than it is about finding the Person of Peace.

If we are the people we should be, those who want to discover Christ come to us. This is more than just living a good life. It’s living an obedient life that demonstrates the love of God and shares God’s Word in such a way that the lost become saved, the saved become obedient, and the obedient make more disciples for the Lord Jesus Christ, resulting in self-replicating disciples and churches of Jesus Christ.

Finding the Person of Peace radically increased the number of churches we planted. We saw disciple-making teams go from planting a few churches per year to planting dozens of churches every year, and in some cases, even hundreds of new churches every year.

The Person of Peace strategy was developed from a composite view of Jesus’ teaching when He sent out His disciples in Matthew 1-, Luke 9, and Luke 10. Following are the commands Jesus gave to His disciples as He sent them out.

Matthew 10

  • As you go, preach this message: “The kingdom of heaven is near.” – Matthew 10:7
  • Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. – Matthew 10:8
  • Freely you have received, freely give. – Matthew 10:8
  • Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep. – Matthew 10:9-10
  • Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. – Matthew 10:11
  • If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. – Matthew 10:14
  • I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. – Matthew 10:16

Luke 9 (Additional commands not contained in Matthew 10)

  • Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. – Luke 9:4
  • This is different from staying only in the house of a worthy person

Luke 10 (Additional commands not contained in Matthew 10 or Luke 9)

  • Go out by two ahead of Me to every town and place I am about to go. – adapted from Luke 10:1
  • Ask the Lord of the harvest… to send out workers into this harvest field. – Luke 10:2
  • Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. – Luke 10:3
  • Do not greet anyone on the road. – Luke 10:3
  • When you enter a house, first say, “Peace to this house.” If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move from house to house. – Luke 10:5-7
  • Heal the sick who are there and tell the, “The kingdom of God is near you.” – Luke 10:9

The Person of Peace teaching is an entry strategy to new communities. In the Great Commission Jesus commanded us to “go.” What do we do when we get to where we are going? We find the Person of Peace.

This is radically different from traditional disciple-making methods. In the Person of Peace strategy, the disciple-maker has one job – find the Person of Peace. This person may be from any walk of life, but he or she will welcome you, listen to your message, help you with your livelihood, and allow you to stay in his or her home and influence his or her family and the community for the sake of the Gospel.

The disciple-maker does not do any of the traditional things required by traditional disciple-making. He does not preach or teach. He does not hand out tracts or sell books or give away Bibles. He does not do mass rallies or healing services. Finding the Person of Peace starts with obedience to Christ and looks for where Christ is about to visit. This is evidenced by the presence of the Person of Peace. If there is no Person of Peace, then you move on. The Person of Peace is found through prayer and service. In our experience, this service is sometimes miraculous, as Luke 10 describes. Often, though, service is as simple as feeding the hungry or helping someone fix a flat tire. In both cases, the disciple-maker freely gives him or herself. We are told to pray for harvesters. The Person of Peace will be this harvester. We equip this person to be the disciple-maker for his or her community. We are to be as wise as serpents. This means we are to anticipate Satan’s attacks and avoid them. We are to be as innocent as doves, gentle, and a threat to no one. We are to work or do business for our food, for a worker is worthy of earned wages. This avoids awkward questions regarding how we support ourselves. It also puts us at work when the rest of the community is at work, allowing us to meet people and have a reason to be in the community. All the ministries that Jesus commands us to do are about meeting the real and felt needs of the community. As we do this we are building relationships that allow us to talk about the Kingdom of God/heaven. The person who is responsive to this message becomes the focus of our attention. This focus is on the household, and we do not move around once the Person of Peace is found. We then make disciples of this family, who then takes on the responsibility of reaching their community for Christ.

We train disciple-makers to enter new communities after extensive prayer. When disciple-makers enter the community, they look for ways to meet the felt needs of the community through service, education, or business. As they meet these needs, they are meeting people and sharing openly about the Kingdom of God. When the Person of Peace reveals him or herself, the disciple-maker shifts the focus to the Family of Peace. The disciple-maker starts a Discovery Group to help the family discover on their own who God is and how they must relate to Him. The disciple-maker teaches them how to study the Word of God, but does not lead the Bible studies or do any of the preaching and teaching. The focus is on the family learning directly from God through His Word. The disciple-maker guides the direction of the study, but does not conduct the study, except to model the process a few times in the beginning.

When the family comes to Christ, the disciple-maker helps them to move from being a Bible study group to fulfilling all the requirements of church. A leader is identified and trained to lead the group and to establish more groups through the family’s network of friends and family.

Disciples make more disciples. Leaders equip more leaders. Groups establish more groups. Churches plant more churches.

Excerpted with permission from Contagious Disciple Making by David Watson and Paul Watson, copyright Thomas Nelson, 2014.

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