John Herrington, Director of Church Planting for Hill Country Bible Church, recently spoke to the Austin Area Church PLanters Network. His topic was “Rapidly Building Missional Core Teams.” He launched his reflections from Matthew 9. Let me guess, you are thinking, not another “the harvest is plentiful, the laborers are few” message, but stick with this. John brought some missiological and good old fashioned evangelistic reflections. What follows is my re-wording of a couple of John’s solid insights:
1. To reach the harvest you need more than laborers; you need to know the soil. Borrowing from Keller, John exhorted us to study and understand our target group’s “baseline cultural narrative.” In other words, spend enough time with the harvest to know the cultural soil it grows in. What are their values, hopes, fears? What motivates them to work and to play? What is the major story that influences their decision making? Singleness? Relativism? Capitalism? Sex? Power? Do you spend enough time with your harvest to answer these questions?
2. Evangelize sparingly, Reap unbelievers sparingly. John challenged us to quit hiding behind the broken defenses of the postmodern harvest–“door to door doesn’t work with us”; “community over conversion”; etc. John shared a story of going door to door with one of his planters to “get in the door” with his community. Sometimes it was straight for the spiritual jugular, other times it was simply getting to know the neighbors. John encouraged us to get out, get a dog, and meet your neighbors. Get into conversation, stir up community, and invite folks to something, a BBQ or whatever, but DO SOMETHING. Lots of folks turned out for the planters BBQ and his core team is thriving. If we sow sparingly we will reap sparingly. Get unchurched into your missional core. Sow abundantly, reap abundantly.
3. Put your hope in the sovereign, immanent God, not best missional practices. From Acts 17 John reminded us that Paul grounded his evangelistic hope in God “determining alloted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him…he is actually not far from each one of us…” Ultimately our hope can not be in great cultural savvy or best missional practices but in the sovereign immanent God who is here.