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5 more principles for working with not-yet-believers

Starting here, several blog posts told the story of how we started a church with people who didn't yet know the Lord. Here are some more principles for working with people who don't yet know Jesus.

  1. Open ended questions are great. We love to ask people, "Tell us where you are on your spiritual journey." Similarly, open discussion is great. As someone commented on the post where I told the story, if people employ the principles in the book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People," they get much further. No one likes to be told, "You're wrong." At the beginning, some of the comments people made were totally off the mark, but we didn't correct them. It works much better when the Word shows them what is right.
  2. We once had a group of late teens and early 20s who were growing and excited about what God was doing in their midst. People were finding the Lord most weeks. We went on a mission trip for a month, and when we came back, the guy whose home it met in came to see us. "I had to close the church down!" The reason was that a local youth pastor heard about what was going on, visited, and when he found their was no teaching, took it upon himself to rectify the omission. Within three weeks people had stopped coming. Moral of the story? If you teach, new believers will quickly learn to be quiet and, in a small group context, often stop coming.
  3. Use the Scriptures as a basis for discussion. If one person teaches, that person become the authority, but if everyone discusses the Scriptures, the Bible itself becomes the authority. Discussion is also a much better way for people to learn.
  4. We had people praying for each other from the very first week. We didn't know who they were praying to, but our God delighted to answer their prayers. We used different patterns of praying–sometimes we would get people into pairs. Other times people would pray, for example, for the person on their right; other times we had them in small groups. We modeled sentence prayers rather than mini-sermons. The result of all this? No one was ever reticent to pray aloud.
  5. Simple patterns can be easily copied. Complex is hard to duplicate. By teaching just four steps based on Acts 2:42, Lisa led from very early on in the process. Here were the four steps: 
    • Start with a meal
    • Ask what God has been doing in people's lives that week
    • Spend time around the Word in an interactive way
    • Pray for each other

3 replies on “5 more principles for working with not-yet-believers”

“Start with a meal
Ask what God has been doing in people’s lives that week
Spend time around the Word in an interactive way
Pray for each other”
I’m curious as to whether you have any advice or books/articles on how to accomplish step three – spend time around the word. I would like to know about that in more detail.

Hi Jim
My apologies it’s taken so long to get back with you on this. We’ve been out of the country for a month.
We personally tend to use four symbols when we do this.
1. A question mark (is there something you don’t understand)
2. A lightbulb (this represent an idea–something you now understand as a result of reading the passage)
3. An arrow (God is speaking to you directly through this. There’s a change you need to make as a result)
4. An ear (who do I know who needs to hear what I’ve just learned)
This last symbol is very important because it’s the way things multiply. If someone shares with someone else and they show interest, they offer to get together with them in their home and with their friends.
There’s another “pattern” of spending time in the word called Discovery Bible Studies. I’ve actually asked someone to guest blog on it so hopefully that will be appearing in the next little while.

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