What principles allow rapid multiplication on the mission field?
Traditionally, follow up from an evangelistic meeting is done by taking people's names and addresses and asking them to attend church or go through some materials. This is usually remarkably ineffective.
In the context I described in the last post this would have been impossible because of security issues as well as illiteracy. Instead, a Luke 10/simple church pattern enabled the harvest to be conserved and then multiplied.
Here are some of the reasons (apart from a sovereign move of God) that I believe this happened.
- Prayer. The local church sponsoring the meetings has a 24 hour prayer room and much prayer was raised. Spiritual warfare was essential and very, very real.
- A large, local church handled practical arrangements.
- The local pastor was 100% involved and was willing to lose some of his best people (and their finance) to start churches in people's homes. Building the Kingdom of God was far more important to him than increasing the size of his church.
- In a nation where there is much persecution of believers, disciples are often far more passionate about their faith than in countries where Christianity is acceptable. The harvest workers were "on fire" for Jesus.
- The harvest workers responsible for follow up were trained in Luke 10 principles. They were taught how to pray for the sick and how to find people of peace.
- Follow up was done at a local level by gathering new believers in the homes of people of peace. The new believers were not expected to attend a church or even to go to the homes of existing believers (extremely dangerous in their context). For similar reasons, the groups were kept very small–family gatherings.
- People were trained in simple patterns that were easily duplicatable–for example, what to do when they gathered together. They were also geared towards oral learners.
- The meetings were culturally relevant. They didn't appear Western.
- The Gospel was sown widely–huge numbers attended. The new believers then gossipped the Gospel along relational lines. They have an uncle in the neighboring village? They go to him, tell him how Jesus touched them and offer to pray for his needs. When Jesus answers their prayer, they start something in his home.
- Miracles, healings and testimonies were featured prominently.
- Christian terminology wasn't used. People were invited to become "followers of Jesus" rather than to become Christians. (Actually, the name of Jesus in that language was used). There was no implication of changing culture.
- The evangelist, a Westerner, has a deep, committed, ongoing relationship to that nation and to the pastor he worked with. He has faith to see the nation changed. He doesn't live in that nation, but visits as the Lord provides opportunity.