When Jesus sent out apostolic workers into the harvest what was it like? I’ve discussed various aspects of this in other posts. I’ve developed the importance of speaking peace to this house here. I’ve discussed the importance of not relying on techniques here. I’ve discussed four keys to church planting here, and I’ve begun to develop the importance of an oikos here. In that vein, I’d like to discuss the importance of looking for the “trigger event.”
If we investigate what Jesus taught the seventy-two in Luke 10 we see that he told them to heal the sick. In Luke 9 he tells his twelve apostles to drive out demons and cure diseases. In Mark 6 the emphasis is on driving out demons, but we also learn that they anointed the sick with oil and healed them. We get a much fuller picture in Matt. 10 where Jesus instructs the apostles to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons (v.8). It is very easy to view this as some sort of template for a technique; or as an exclusive list. I think there is a better way to understand this. First, we can understand these instructions as “trigger events.” Second, I believe we need to understand that none of the lists that are given in the scriptures are complete in themselves. In fact, if we look at the stories of Jesus in the Gospels and the stories of the apostolic workers in Acts we get a fuller list of potential “trigger events.” Even these shouldn’t be taken as prescriptive but rather as the kinds of things that can be trigger events for kingdom expanding ministry (church planting).
Let’s go to Jesus’ ministry to see another trigger event that leads to kingdom expansion in John 4. We all know the story of the woman at the well. If we have a pretty good understanding of how Jesus taught the seventy-two to do ministry in Luke 10, we’ll realize that Jesus is modeling the Luke 10 pattern as he interacts with the woman at the well. The woman is the person of peace (Lk. 10:6). The people of the Samaritan village are her oikos, her sphere of influence, often poorly translated as house or household in Lk. 10 5. However, what I’d like to note here is the trigger event and how Jesus focused on it to lead to Kingdom expanding ministry.
From the very beginning Jesus is examining his interaction with this woman to see if his Father is up to something. He does this because, as Jesus says, he only does what he sees the Father doing (Jn. 5:19). When he senses that the Father is up to something, he gives the woman a prophetic word of knowledge, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” This was the trigger event. This was the key that led to ministry for an entire village. Jesus did this by observation of what the Father was doing, and through guidance of the Spirit. He did not force it to happen, nor follow a technique. He paid attention.
In Acts 16 we see two trigger events, the meeting of Lydia by a river (v. 13), which was probably prophetic direction. And, we see a miraculous earthquake which leads to the conversion of the jailer (vv. 25-34). In both of these cases, they lead to oikoses being reached. In the case of the jailer, his oikos is mentioned (v.34). Lydia’s oikos is mentioned in v. 40 where Paul and Silas meet with the brethren.
If time and space permitted I could develop the supernatural trigger event that allows Phillip to meet a man from Ethiopia or Jesus to end up at the house of Zacchaeus. Here’s the point. Let’s not stereotype how ministry is done (healing alone, or casting out demons, or only what is mentioned in Matt. 10). Let’s not be foolish enough to look only for supernatural events, or avoid supernaturalism. I think it would be much wiser to do what Jesus did. He paid attention to what the Father was up to. This often ended up being Jesus allowing the Spirit to lead him to a trigger event, which opens up access to a person of peace and their sphere of influence. This can be highly supernatural, such as healing the sick, a word of knowledge or casting out demons. It can also just be being in the right place at the right time to meet the right person. That’s also supernatural, just not as spectacular. It is supernatural because God is leading the process. Our part is to pay attention to what God is doing and not get ahead of him by having faith in some technique instead of him. I believe that if we pay attention, God will often give us a trigger event which will lead to kingdom expanding ministry.
- Can you see other “trigger events” that led to kingdom expanding ministry in the New Testament?
- Why can relying on technique lead us astray?
- How can we get out ahead of God? What could that look like?
- What happens if we aren’t paying close enough attention and don’t notice what God is doing, or notice his leading to a trigger event?