Photo credit: mikeporterinmd (Creative Commons)
A few years back we were contacted by a friend of ours who lives in North Carolina.
"I've just led a lady to the Lord over the Internet. She lives in your city. Would you be willing to meet with her?"
We met with Lisa and her husband the next Saturday morning at Starbucks. Lisa was soundly converted and our friend was doing an outstanding job with follow up. We told her a little about simple/organic church.
The following Wednesday, we received an email:"Could I have church at my house?"
It turned out that Lisa and her husband had been meeting with a group of friends on a weekly basis for the past 10 years to look at spirituality and how to strengthen their marriages. Lisa was willing to introduce us to these friends, all of whom shared her previous New Age beliefs.
We all met at Lisa's house and shared a meal together.
Then we asked each person, "Tell us the story of where you are on your spiritual journey." We have used this question again and again starting groups with not-yet-believers. It's a great open-ended question, and tells us all kinds of things we want to know. So each person shared their story, including the two of us, who were very careful not to use Christianese or to sound like "we're right and you need what we have." Then we asked if people had anything they would like prayer for, and had them pray together in pairs.
As the evening ended, we offered for any who wanted to pursue this further to come again, and that we would provide a book for the basis of future discussions that is the number one book on spirituality ever written.
Several continued to come. We used a pattern that is so simple that Lisa was leading the group after the second or third week. The pattern is based on Acts 2:42 which says:
They devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayers.
Each week we shared a meal together, we discussed what God had been doing in each person's life (this was often the result of the previous week's prayers), we shared from the Word together, and we prayed for each other.
We have found the concept of prevenience to be very important–God is at work in the lives of unbelievers before they surrender their lives to him. So even though when we started, we had no idea who they were praying to, our God delighted to answer their prayer, and they had no difficulty recognizing that. (One consequence of this is that they have never had difficulty with praying aloud.) They also were easily able to talk about what God was doing in their lives.
The book we used to study was John's Gospel. It is perfect for people with a New Age background. All about life and light. And we didn't answer their questions, but let them discover over the weeks what it was all about.
The next blog post will tell you what happened.
How have you started churches with not-yet-believers?