It’s 2001, and Tony and I are in India where we are speaking at a conference. Another of the speakers is from India, and he’s someone we’ve wanted to meet for a long time because we’ve heard that he’s in the middle of an extraordinary, multiplying church planting movement. So in every break, I take the opportunity to pummel him with questions.
One of the first is this: “Where do you find the principles that are leading to the extraordinary growth you are seeing?”
His answer? “They come in Luke 10.”
In fact, it doesn’t matter where in the world you go, if you ask the people who are seeing exponential church multiplication, they come back to this same passage.
So let’s take a look at Luke chapter 10. Note that there are similar principles discussed in Luke 9 and Matthew 10. It seemed to be Jesus’ modus operandi when reaching out to places he hadn’t yet visited. We’ll meander through these verses over a series of blog posts.
*The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit.* (Luke 10:1)
Often when we train people, we’ll have them study this passage looking for four symbols: a question mark (is there something you don’t understand?); a light-bulb (what was an “aha” moment for you in this verse, something that seemed to make things come clear?); an arrow (what do you need to do or change in order to obey this verse?) and an ear (who do you know who needs to hear what you’ve been learning? Who will you share it with?)
Here are some of the points that usually come out of verse 1.
1. Jesus chose 72 others. Who were they “other” to? The twelve (see the beginning of Luke 9). So in all, he had 84 disciples he was working with.
2. He sent them ahead of him to all the towns and places he planned to visit. If Jesus sends you somewhere, for example, if you change jobs, or move house, it’s because he wants to touch the new workplace or neighborhood via you.
3. He sent them out in pairs, not in large numbers. Often, when an established church is trying to reach a new neighborhood, they send out a team of people including a musician, someone who can teach, people to take care of the kids etc. That wasn’t the way Jesus operated.
4. Why in pairs and not alone? For support and accountability.
Jesus had a plan for that area and a strategy for reaching it. He sent the disciples out—“You two can go to this village. You two will meet someone at an inn on the road to this city….”
What did the disciples have to do? They listened to Jesus and then they obeyed him.
Does Jesus have a strategy for your area? Of course!
How do we find out Jesus’ strategy? We listen to Him and we obey him.