In late August and early September my friends Lyle and Kristy Wilkinson and my wife Margi and I were in Finland conducting organic church planting training. We did this in the cities of Joensuu, Lahti, Helsinki and Tampere. We also we able to do some brief organic discipleship training with a Russian pastor in St. Petersburg, Russia.
One of our convictions is that training should be more like Jesus’ training where the emphasis was on learning through doing. Training like this puts as much emphasis on actual ministry experiences and debriefing as it does on training through sharing information. We’ve found that this is not only more effective, it is more exciting and more fun. In the church planting portion of our training we teach Luke 10 principles. As a group, we then practice listening prayer, asking God to tell us where to go and what to do. Then, in obedience to the Lord of the harvest, we immediately go and do what Jesus has asked. Afterwards, just like Jesus did in Lk. 10: 17-23 we conduct a debriefing, telling stories of what Jesus has done among us. I wanted to share a story that happened during our training in Joensuu.
Before I share this story I want to set up a little context. Postmodern Europe is not what any knowledgeable observer would call “open to the Gospel.” Most sociologists consider Europe not only postmodern but “post-Christian.” All of that to say my experience of sharing the Gospel in Europe in the “typical way” is that the response is not only uninterested, it is hostile. By “typical way” I’m talking about sharing the Gospel with people that Jesus has not led us to. But that is not our intention. We are looking for the man of peace, a person Jesus is guiding us to, not just a generic person we are hoping might be interested. For more on finding a man of peace read Finding the Person of Peace and Cesar, Man of Peace.
In prayer my friend Heikki had been told by Jesus to “find a man in a cap.” This led him to meet Rene and Laila, a couple from Tallinn, Estonia who were setting on a park bench in front of city hall. Heikki started out with a light, joking conversation with Rene. Then Heikki asked if he could bless him. Rene jumped to his feet. He did it so fast that Heikki was afraid that Rene was going to punch him. Instead Rene said, “I’ve just been praying and waiting for someone to come talk to me about Jesus.” So Heikki asked him if he would like to give his life to Jesus. Rene was more than ready. Heikki led Rene through a prayer asking Jesus to become part of his life. Heikki then turned to Laila and asked her if she would like Jesus in her life. At this point Rene interjected saying, “as a believer it will be important to me to have a wife who believes also.” So, Laila entered the Kingdom. Heikki then spent some time with follow up council and prayer for these new believers and their family. Finally Heikki sensed that he had done what Jesus had sent him to do and he left.
Our debrief later had a number of stories of obediently following Jesus and doing exactly what he had asked him to do. You can imagine how joyous that time was. But, those are stories for a later posts.
Pick a question and respond:
- Have you ever had Jesus lead you to a person of peace?
- Have you ever practiced evangelism by asking Jesus where to go, what to do and then did just that?
- Would you prefer training that included practices and debriefs or just information? Why? Which type of training would be more effective in your mind? Why.
- When Jesus sent out the twelve (Matt. 10, Mark 6 and Lk9) and the 72 (Lk 10) supernaturalism was a normal result. Do you see this kind of supernaturalism in your ministry today?
 Lk. 10:6. This person is most commonly now called a person of peace because they can just as easily be a woman as a man. This same person is called a “worthy person” in Matt. 10.