How we started a church with New Agers

Have you ever wondered how to start a church with a group of not-yet believers? Here’s one story of how we worked with some New Agers.

Dream catcher

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?

11 thoughts on “How we started a church with New Agers”

  1. Unfortunately, no. I just don’t seem to have the gifts necessary to do it, but I wish I did. When I was working I had many non-believing friends, but while I shared aspects of the good news with many of them and most of them respected me and my beliefs, very few were interested for themselves.
    I love to read the stories of those whose experience is different to mine, but they don’t seem to translate.

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  2. UnkleE, I wonder how much of that is cultural. Having said that, I would say the UK is very similar to Australia, and Tony (as a doctor) led hundreds of his patients to the Lord. Maybe the difference is that they came to see him when they were in need. Is there a way to find those in need where you are?

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  3. How did your husband lead patients to the Lord? What types of questions did he ask or discussions did he have with them? What type of doctor is he? Has he ever started a simple church with patients or in a hospital? I will be finishing nursing school in October and feel that this is exactly why I was called to the profession. However, being in the corporate world previously and having months or years to develop relationships with people is much different for me then developing a relationship over 12 hours.

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  4. Felicity,
    I think it is partly cultural. My work friends were all (pretty much) intelligent skilled people, well adjusted and with fulfilled lives. They respected me for my abilities and friendship, so they respected my beliefs, sometimes they were willing to talk or curious to ask, but they (with a few exceptions) never wanted to know for themselves. That is what most Aussies are like I think – perhaps a more practical, less doctrinal, approach to christianity would be better.
    I think need is a factor. For almost 10 years we were friends with a group of people with addictions and mental illnesses, or who were unemployed, and we saw some of them choose to follow Jesus. But their progress was slow, they needed a lot of support and many of them were somewhat shaky in their faith. Although we prayed as much in faith as we could, we never saw any obvious healings from their afflictions, though some slow improvements around the edges.
    I currently live in an upper middle class area where most people have all they need and much more. There obviously are needs, and I have tried one or two things, but for various reasons nothing much has come of that yet. I am still praying about this.
    But in the end I do think that a lot of it is gifts. My gifts seem to lie elsewhere, in supporting, provoking, strategising, teaching, encouraging, so the challenge may be to find a community of believers (small or large) who want to do the mission work, and support them in it.
    Thanks for your thoughts, this blog and the hearing from God ebook.

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  5. Although all of the factors mentioned may be legit, I believe it’s less about culture and more about people skills. If you read the classic book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” you realize that most people regularly break the rules of human relations when it comes to connecting with people.
    Most people would have taken your situation and tried to convert the New Agers, breaking many of the principles of connection; such as…
    “Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view”
    “Show respect for the other person’s opinions by never saying they’re wrong.”
    “Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.”
    In this case, it sounds like you followed all of the principles. How fast the church would grow if more people were trained in this.

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  6. “They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayers.”
    It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? I wonder why we often complicate things so. Good advice too to avoid the “Christianese.”
    Blessings 🙂

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  7. Erin,
    Tony had one simple question he would ask patients whose problems were not medical. He would ask, “Have you ever thought of praying about that?” By their answer, he could tell if they were at all open to pursue the conversation. The usual answer was. “Oh yes, doctor, I’ve prayed. But it feels as though my prayers just hit the ceiling.” That would be his opening to talk more about Jesus.

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  8. 2nd man united, I agree with you. I’ve read the book several times and both Tony and I have been influenced by it. I’m going to blog about some of the principles of working with not-yet-believers following the completion of this story. This is definitely one of the principles.

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  9. I’m currently right in the middle of starting a church with almost-believers. I’m interested in when you know to leave the group….the believing couple who has helped start ours- I’ve asked not to leave because I’m afraid I’ll be swamped with a group who is not yet firm in faith. Our fellowship would probably continue, but the rest? When do you know it’s time to go?

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  10. Trying,
    Sorry to have been so long getting back with you. We were out of the country for a month in Russia and the UK, and my correspondence piled up!
    You ask an interesting question. The bigger question is “who leads?” We try to have the person of peace lead right from the start–certainly by the third or fourth week. We teach patterns so simple that anyone can copy them–based on Acts 2:42. It’s best not to produce dependence on the outsider, but to mentor the person of peace who leads the group. With Lisa’s group, we did keep a Christian couple in the group who we took along with us, but they clearly understood they were there just as support, not to lead.
    In principle, we let people know right from the start that we’ll only be there 3 or 4 months, but there is not hard and fast rule. The best thing is to seek the Lord and do what he says on this one. The other thing you need to do is to help them to start a daughter church, not necessarily while you are still there, but certainly to have them thinking about it.
    Hope this helps.

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