Wednesday, August 19, 2009

JESUS' MISSIONARY STRATEGY: Part 4 FindingThe Man of Peace

"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 around from house to house."
Luke 10: 5-7 (NIV)

We now come to the fourth component of Jesus' Missionary Strategy. The first three are: Work in teams; know where you're going; and develop a powerful prayer emphasis. Now we are approaching where the rubber hits the road and where we begin to engage the targeted community to form a beachhead for missional operations. A new term is being introduced, Man of Peace, to describe the targeted audience. Understanding this targeted audience is of the utmost strategic importance for the powerful penetration and the rapid spreading of the gospel throughout a mission field.

Finding the Man of Peace is the answer to the prayers that were offered up to the Lord of the Harvest to send more laborers into the field. First one prays for more help in the harvest field and then one begins to search for the answer to that prayer. Finding the Man of Peace and establishing a beachhead for kingdom operations within his home is how the team is to prepare the community for Jesus' arrival or in the case of the book of Acts for the Holy Spirit's arrival. The home of the Man of Peace is to be the place where Jesus would base his ministry and operations within that town. This home would be the place where Jesus would teach, preach, heal and fellowship with his disciples and the residents of the community. This Man of Peace and his home would become the epicenter of Jesus' missional movement within that community that would naturally spread through his web of influence. This Man of Peace would be the key to opening the hearts of large numbers of people to receive Christ. Finding this man is critical to the success of saturating Christ's kingdom in that community.

But how does one recognize the Man of Peace and How does one find him? According to Thom Wolfe, former pastor of Church on Brady Street in East LA and mission professor at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, there are three characteristics that will identify the Person of Peace.

  • First, The Person of Peace has been prepared to received Christ by the working of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said,
"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."

Jesus is clearly indicating that the man of peace is one who is ready to receive the message of salvation. He is that fruit that is ripe for the picking. Every person who can be identified as a Person of Peace in the Gospels or the Book of Acts has been a person ready and eager to receive Christ. That doesn't mean that there are not others who are ready to receive Christ. There are. But remember the Person of Peace is a strategic tool, that Christ uses, to unlock the doors to large groups of people. Now while we are ready and willing to lead any and all people to Christ we must also be looking for that strategic Person of Peace whom God will use to open up large numbers of other hearts for his glory. Therefore, understanding the other two characteristics is vital.

  • The second characteristic is that they are people with a reputation. This reputation may be positive or negative. It doesn't really matter. The point is that large numbers of people know who they are. They have a familiar face or name within that targeted mission field. Hearing of this person has come to faith in Christ would cause the ears of many to perk up. People might even be shocked at the news that this particular person has become a believer in Christ.
The woman at the well that Jesus talked to was a person with a negative reputation. The Roman Centurion, Cornelius, was a person with a positive reputation. As I said before the kind of reputation is not important but the fact that they have notoriety or famous is what catches the eyes and ears of those that know of them. My very good friend, Larry Munguia, is such a man. Heavy into rock and roll music, drugs and alcohol Larry messed up his life so bad that he had lost everything including all respect from his family. Then at a Promise Keepers meeting he gave his life over to Christ and a few years later God called him into the ministry. People who knew Larry were shocked, to say the least, to hear of his new found faith! But now God has used Larry to start a church, THE SOBER PROJECT in Tucson, AZ, that has over 300 people in weekly attendance who are in recovery. God used his negative reputation to bring glory to himself. Larry is a Person of Peace.

  • The third characteristic is that the Person of Peace is highly influential. They are natural leaders. When they speak people, in their mission field listen and follow. The Person of Peace has a web of influence that can be very large. When he speaks about his conversion experience he has instant credibility the people. Because of their credibility people believe the validity of their testimony.
The Philippian Jailer had so much influence that his entire household believed and was baptized. The Samaritan woman at the well was instrumental for the whole town coming to faith.

When all three characteristics are present there is the potential for an explosion of people coming to faith in Christ. But we have to learn how to recognize them and how to capitalize on it. To many missed opportunities of large numbers of people coming to faith in Christ happen simply because we have not learned how to capitalize on this strategic missional principle. But that is a discussion for another post.

How do you find such people? Jesus instructed the 72 to go door to door until they found the person who match the description of the Person of Peace. Once that person was identified they were to stop their search and stay with that person. I will share more about that later but for now just understand the way you find the Person of Peace is the same way you look for a needle in a haystack, one house at a time.

If we are going to be effective in the rapid spreading of the Kingdom of God and the gospel, we must be determined to find the Persons of Peace that God has prepared. Being able to identify the Man of Peace is the skill that effective missionaries need to develop. It is important to understand that we are unable to create or even develop people to become a Person of Peace. This is the work of the God. It is God, the Lord of the Harvest, who is responsible for calling out the workers (Man of Peace) into the fields but it is our job to find this person, walk alongside them with encouragement, equip them and then unleash them into the harvest fields.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

JESUS' MISSIONARY STRATEGY: Part 3 Pray For More Workers

"He told them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field." Luke 10:2 (NIV)

So far we have observed that Jesus' missionary strategy consisted of developing a team concept, the disciples and the 72 were to go out 2 by 2. We then see that Jesus had a plan of where he was about to go and he sent his disciples out to prepare the way. We see this same pattern among the disciples in the book of Acts. They also went out in teams of at least two people and we see that, in particular, the Apostle Paul had a very clear plan of where he wanted to go. This plan however, was always subject to change based upon the guiding and leading of the Holy Spirit.

Now we come to the third part of Jesus' strategy which is prayer. In this verse Jesus stated an observation that he has made:

The Harvest Is Full And Ready To Be Picked But There Is Just Not Enough Workers To Gather It All In!

In other words there are a whole lot of people ready and prepared to repent and follow Jesus but there is just one problem! There's not enough people to share the good news of God's forgiveness of sin to the people ready to receive it.

The same is true today. There are people all over this country sick and tired of their sinful condition. They are fed up with the mess their sinfulness has made of their lives. But they also feel helpless because they know there is nothing they can do to change their situation. And they feel hopeless because they know there is nothing anyone else can do to make a difference. They have tried all the self-help books, all the court mandated meetings, counseling and even behavioral modification all to no avail. But as Christians we have the good news that can change their lives and we have the keys that can unchain them from the slavery of sin that has held them captive.

But there's one problem.
We still don't have enough workers in harvest fields.

So what are we suppose to do? Are we to allow the fruit to remain on the vine to rot? Are we to guilt people who claim to be Christians but never share their faith to come join us? What are we to do? And just as we are asking this question the words of Jesus comes echoing out of the pages.


Pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send more workers. There is a very important point that needs to be made! It is not our job to call other Christians to work in the harvest field! We are not to beg them, guilt them or bribe them. IT'S NOT OUR JOB! It is not our job to go out and pick who we want to join us on this mission of gathering in the souls that God has prepared. Again I will say it,


Listen carefully as I say this! It is the responsibility of the LORD OF THE HARVEST to recruit and gather his team of harvesters. IT'S GOD'S JOB NOT OURS! Our part to play is to pray and to plead with the God to send more workers. We are to pray as we go out into the fields to reap the harvest. We are to pray while we are harvesting.

So often as we read this verse from a 21st century perspective. We feel that God is going to raise up these new workers from those Christians who are pew sitters. Somehow we feel that God is going to spiritually arouse them where they will have this unquenchable motivation to go out and share. But if we were the disciples hearing Jesus say this words while living in the 1st century we would quickly realize that there were no other Christians sitting and warming the pews. All of the followers of Jesus, at that time, were actively involved in reaping the harvest. So Jesus could not have been asking his disciple to pray to God to motivate those bench warming dead Christians to come out and help. There were no bench warming dead Christians to arouse.

So who were those workers that Jesus asked us to pray for to come and help us? They were men and women who were not even believers in Christ yet but whom God has prepared to follow Jesus. The answer to the prayers would not come from within the church but from within the harvest. The new laborers would be those men and women who have recently decided to follow Christ.


So let me ask you a few questions and let's begin to evaluate ourselves in light of Jesus' missionary strategy:

  1. How diligently are you praying to God to send more people into the harvest who recently came out of the harvest?
  2. Are you actively praying while you are actively harvesting? Or are you just waiting to begin the harvesting once God brings more people to join the work?
  3. Are you actively looking for those people that God is raising up out of the harvest to be those co-laborers in the harvest fields?
  4. Whom have you reach recently for Christ that you can team up with and show how they can reap the harvest also?
  5. What fruit (person) are you going to investigate today to see if they are ripe for harvest?
Let's remember to team up, know where we are going,
and pray for God to send more laborers.