The Person of Peace is the one God has prepared to receive the Gospel for the first time into a community. Our understanding of the Person of Peace changes the way we plant churches. It radically increases the number of churches planted. We have seen church planting 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.
I developed the Person of Peace strategy from a composite view of Jesus’ teachings when He sent out His disciples in Matthew 10, 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 the message that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. · Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. · Freely you have received, freely give. · 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. · Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. · If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. · I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.
Luke 9 (Additional commands not contained in Matthew 10) · Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. (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) · Jesus sent the disciples out two by two to every town and place He was about to visit. · Ask the Lord to send out workers to His harvest field. · We are being sent like a lamb among wolves. · Do not greet anyone on the road. · When you enter a house offer peace. If a Person of Peace is present then stay in the house, eat and drink what is put before you, and do not move around from house to house. · Heal the sick and tell them the Kingdom of God is near.
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 church planting methods. In the Person of Peace strategy, the evangelist 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 the home, and influence his or her family and the community for the sake of the Gospel.
The Evangelist Church Planter does not do any of the traditional things required by traditional church planting. 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.
Let’s look at what the Evangelist does and how the Person of Peace strategy works. It starts with obedience to Christ. It 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 ministry. The Evangelist freely gives of himself or herself. We are told to pray for harvesters. The Person of Peace will be this harvester. We equip this person to be the church planter 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 gentle as doves – we are to be a threat to no one. We are to work or do business for our food for a workman is worth his 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 household/family, who then takes on the responsibility of reaching their community for Christ.
We train evangelists to enter new communities after extensive prayer. When the evangelists 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/Heaven. When the Person of Peace reveals himself or herself, the evangelists shifts the focus to the Family of Peace. Discovery Bibles Studies or Story Telling are done to help the family discover on their own who God is and how they must relate to Him. The Evangelist teaches them how to study the Word of God, and does not lead the Bible studies or do preaching/teaching. The focus is on the family learning directly from God through His Word. The Evangelist 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 evangelists 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.
It is amazing that when the evangelist starts with a person God has prepared to receive the Gospel, church plant is much easier and much quicker. If you want to see many churches started, learn the strategy of starting with the Person of Peace.
Originally written somewhere over the Pacific Ocean and posted 02/14/2008