There has not been a sustained viral movement of the Gospel in the West since the early 4th Century. We have had movements of the Gospel, such as the 1st and 2nd Great Awakenings, they just weren’t viral and sustained. They died out in about 20-30 years. I long for a sustained viral movement in the West like the early church had for nearly 300 years and like our brothers in China have been experiencing for 60+ years.
I believe if we are to see such a thing, we will need to learn from what Jesus taught us in Luke chapter 10. I’d like to highlight four keys from Jesus’ teaching on church planting. I’m using the word “church” as it was originally used in the New Testament, as a gathering of Christians. Jesus’ teaching in Lk. 10 is about making disciples; but he does it in a way that it impacts groups. If we are to see a sustained movement of the gospel we will need church planting that is at least these four things: simple, supernatural, cheap and reproducible.
Jesus teaching on viral disciple making is simple. He says it with 210 words in Lk. 10:1-11 and that’s the long version. The shorter versions are in Matt. 10, Mk. 6 and Lk. 9. This is a simple pattern of cooperation with Jesus under his lordship, so that we plant the Kingdom of God among groups of people who previously didn’t know him. The nutshell of Jesus’ pattern is found in verses five through seven.
There is nothing complex here. It isn’t necessarily easy to live, but it certainly isn’t complicated. Compare this to church planting training nowadays. It starts with researching and defining people groups, doing mapping, clarifying “target audiences,” developing a marketing strategy, going through an objective process…I could go on, but you get the picture; complexity built on more complexity. Only the trained professionals can do it, not simple fishermen from Galilee.
Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’ (Lk. 10:9) The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name. (Lk. 10:17).This does not need to be flamboyant, glassy eyed and strange. If God gives opportunity to pray for someone’s illness, pray. If the need arises, pray for spiritual deliverance. But when the words of the gospel are paired with demonstration of God’s power, there will be receptivity. I believe one of the reasons our preaching is ignored in the West is that it is often just statements about God, with no demonstrations of who he really is.
Just how expensive is not taking a purse or bag or sandals, staying in people’s homes and eating what is set before you? However the Holy Spirit teaches us to contextualize this to the 21 Century Western world, it won’t be expensive. Jesus’ patterns do not require three year graduate degrees, expensive equipment and buildings. It really only requires meaningful contact with people and the power of God, both of which are free.
Complex is not easily reproducible. Neither is anything expensive. Jesus trains the 12 in Luke 9. Then he appointed 72 others to do the exact same thing in Luke 10. We see the same patterns of this training being reproduced in the ministry of Paul, who most likely trained others in Acts 20:4 to do the same. Simple is reproducible.
For a current story of Lk. 10 church planting see: Cesar, Man of Peace.
- Why do you think we make things so complex? Has this complexity resulted in greater effectiveness?
- Why don’t we see much supernatural power anymore?
- Is what you are doing or what you have seen in church planting cheap and reproducible?