Short cuts seem good in the beginning but often take longer in the end. We can be tempted to take alternate routes as we work in a new area. The Person of Peace concept comes from Luke Chapter 10. In verses five and six, Jesus tells them to look for someone who promotes peace. The disciples He sent out were to stay with that person and receive their hospitality. Through them they would reach the community. This is one DMM principle you can’t afford to take a short cut on.
“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Luke 10:5,6
The Person of Peace (POP) concept encourages us to work through local people. They lend you their credibility. POPs open doors in a community, especially in the early evangelism stages. Later, they often become the new movement’s leaders.
Recently, during a visit to Central America, I met a wonderful leader from an indigenous tribe. I asked him how he began the work of reaching his own people. He told me he had a dream where Jesus showed him a certain place to go begin the work. Notable in his story was how God provided him with a Person of Peace.
A Rough Night Under a Tree
The people of his target area followed a religious practice called Mattata. He said it involved a lot of idolatry. When he first went there he was not sure people would be open to his message. At first, they were not. When he and his wife traveled to the village, no one wanted to receive him.
It began to get dark and he had no place to stay. It started raining. This was not easy especially with their small baby. They stayed outside under a tree that difficult night.
The next morning, they started to walk to another nearby place. In that new village, they also would not listen to them or their message. On the third day, as they continued to walk, they believed God would show them where to begin. They saw a house and approached. An old man, a grandfather of about sixty years old welcomed them!
“You look like you have something to say,” the old man said. “I am ready to listen to you.”
The evangelist then shared the message of Jesus with this man and his wife. They put their trust in Christ and welcomed him and his family to stay with them. He had found a Person of Peace. After a few days, they returned home but every fifteen days they visited this couple.
Each time they went, the grandpa invited others to hear. “They didn’t know me,” said the evangelist. “But they trusted the grandfather, so they came to listen.”
A Church is Born
Before long, sixty people were meeting in the couple’s house for regular fellowship. The Person of Peace had been key to opening that community to the gospel.
There are now nineteen churches started by this modern-day apostle. Over 5,500 people have come to faith and more than 3000 have been baptized. The churches he has started are beginning to multiply. His disciples are now starting new churches too. The streams of the movement haven’t yet reached the fourth generation. But they are well on their way toward seeing a disciple-making movement.
It all began with finding the Person of Peace.
Three Temptations to Avoid in DMMs
Sometimes the local person God has chosen is easy to find. For this brother, he found him in a few difficult days. In some situations, it can take much longer to find that person. It is tempting to give up and to begin to do things in other ways. They seem faster, but in the end, they will slow down progress toward multiplication. When we work in the ways described below, we lose the potential to meet in the home of an insider who “sponsors” the growth. You begin with the wrong foundation.
Temptation #1- Rent a Building
So many people I’ve trained are tempted to do this! They think it will help them to rent a small room or house in which to start their church plant. Rather than receiving the hospitality of a local person (POP), they raise money themselves. They pay for a rented building where they can gather people to worship. This is almost always a bad idea!
Bringing in outside finances is hard to reverse. Rarely do offerings taken with seekers or brand-new believers come to enough money to pay rent. From the beginning, you are creating unhealthy dependency.
“We have many people who want to hear the gospel and the houses in this community are so small!” I have also heard this reasoning countless times from trainees! Small houses are plenty big for participatory disciple-making groups. You don’t want to have more than 8-10 people maximum in these groups anyhow. Otherwise, not everyone will have a chance to respond to the questions and share their ideas.
Keep looking for Persons of Peace who will open their homes for the study of God’s Word and call their neighbors, family, and friends to participate.
Temptation #2- Start a Program
When we don’t find the Person of Peace it can be tempting to start some kind of a program to attract people. We begin a school or tuition program, or a clinic, or something to help us connect with people. This again is not necessarily wrong, but it can be a poor substitute for finding a Person of Peace.
As in everything we do in DMMs we must ask ourselves whether what we are doing in reproducible or not. Could local people start the same kinds of programs? Will they be sustainable after you leave? Do they cost money you have to raise from outside that place?
Temptation #3- Run a Crusade- Preaching/Healing Meeting
I am not against preaching. But in many contexts, this takes you in the opposite direction of a Disciple Making Movement. This is especially true if it means using outside funds to bring in a famous speaker. Remember…reproducibility.
Preaching has its place and we certainly see Jesus doing this from time to time, as did Paul. Much more often we see them speaking to people in small groups or responding to situations that came up. Jesus demonstrated the kingdom through signs and wonders many more times then he preached sermons. He entered into hundreds of conversations with people, asking them questions and engaging them in the dialogue. Jesus also told many, many stories which he then discussed with his followers.
If Jesus chose to preach sermons infrequently if he preferred other methods, shouldn’t we?
Don’t Give Up Too Quickly
The Person of Peace is out there for you. God has already chosen someone in the community you are working among. Even before you went there He was actively working to prepare them. Keep sharing the gospel and looking for them. When you find them, you will be glad you didn’t take a short cut.
What other short cuts have you faced that felt tempting in your DMM journey? Let me know in the comments below or on the DMM Facebook group.
On June 12th, we are opening registration for a BRAND NEW Online course called Getting Started in Disciple Making Movements: Even if You Are Busy, Can’t Speak the Language Well and Have No Money! In the course, we have a whole module on how to find a Person of Peace. Click HERE to find out more about the course.
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