Reaching the marketplace - a Luke 10 model
Jesus Sends Out His Disciples
"The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit. These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields. Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves. Don’t take any money with you, nor a traveller’s bag, nor an extra pair of sandals. And don’t stop to greet anyone on the road.
"Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say, ‘May God’s peace be on this house.’ If those who live there are peaceful, the blessing will stand; if they are not, the blessing will return to you. Don’t move around from home to home. Stay in one place, eating and drinking what they provide. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve their pay.
“If you enter a town and it welcomes you, eat whatever is set before you. Heal the sick, and tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God is near you now.’ Luke 10 v1-9 NIV
The Matthew 28 commission is a command to go and make disciples of all nations. Here in Luke 10 we can find a model for doing this.
There is a progression in this passage:
Let's think of the marketplace here.
The seventy were sent out to where Jesus wanted to visit. Does Jesus want to visit workplaces where church members are employed, streets where they live? Why has he has placed you and them there?
They were sent out together. You may be surprised that on your street and in your workplace there are other Christians that Jesus has already sent there. I once started a prayer meeting in the place I worked (25 miles away from where my local church was) and several people turned up - I found I was not alone.
As they went they were instructed to pray.
On entering premises (I use this word deliberately because the workplaces in Jesus’s day were homes), they were instructed to bless the premises and people.
Then have fellowship with the people there – spend time with them, eat and drink, share.
Then minister to their needs
Then, having blessed them, built relationship and ministered to them, talk about the Kingdom.
Have we been in danger of reducing this to go and preach? There are a few steps in-between.
This is where social action either in the local community or in your workplace (which may be miles away from where live), comes in.
My National Church and Social Action Survey of 2012 and 2014 shows that social action is helping connect the Church to local communities and has resulted in Church growth. Social action seems to enable connection to people who are not at a place where they would be interested in Alpha or equivalent courses.
Further analysis in my Social Action and Church Growth report of 2015 shows that all initiatives have some effect on church growth, some a lot more than others. What caused the difference? The top reasons were; building a long-term relationship with people, spending time with individuals, prayer, friendliness, invitation to other events.
Some encouraging quotes from these surveys:
“Seeing a guest at last winter's night shelter come to faith in Christ, secure his own flat and obtain full-time employment!”
“Work in schools and RE, has brought a big increase in young people being involved in social care activities organised through the Church.”
“We have seen people added to our church because of the ministries that we are involved with."
“The number of university and college staff and students, other office and shop workers who are affected by and speak of the special atmosphere in the café. And the number of people who have had the opportunity to talk about issues and some receiving prayer discretely.”
Doesn't all this support the Luke 10 model?
But don't let your thinking just revolve around local church programmes.
Through the model in Luke 10, Jesus builds his Church – his Ekklesia.
Let’s dig into the meaning for the word ‘Ekklesia’.
In 500BC-400AD it was as a political term, meaning an assembly of citizens. In the Greek city-state the citizens were called by the trumpet of the herald summoning them to the ekklesia (assembly) to debate and vote on laws. This had to happen at least 42 times per year. The ekklesia was the ultimate power in the constitutional government of the Greek city-state. It that a picture of Jesus's Church - debating and voting on laws each time they meet?
It is far more likely Jesus used the Roman meaning for Ekklesia. To them it meant a group of Roman citizens - people in the community, business men and women, educators, government officials, called out to go into a conquered region. Hasn't Jesus conquered? They would teach the language of Rome, the culture of Rome, until everything walked, talked and acted like Rome. This puts the terms leaven and salt and light into context. They even had another term ‘Conventum’ – where 2 or 3 are gathered together, there is Rome.
Jesus could have said I will build my ‘Temple’ - one place in the world to come to worship God. He could have used ‘Synagogue’ – a local congregation of believers. No, he used Ekklesia – far more dynamic, 24x 7 and much more Kingdom focused.
So Jesus would be sending believers to their workplaces, communities, etc in various towns. They would bless, build relationships, minister and tell people about Jesus - sowing, watering, reaping. Thinking about the modern workplace where people commute in from many communities, people wanting to find out more would approach assemblies of believers in their towns, thus the Ekklesia grows. The particular church that you come from may not grow or it could grow from other people's efforts:
"What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow." 1 Corinthians 3:5-7 NIV
So here's some questions which may be controversial:
Is your local congregation an ekklesia or a synagogue?
Have you business people in your congregation who feel frustrated – only there to help with church programmes and finance?
Do you equip the people to minister in the marketplace wherever God has put them?
Are they prayed for and affirmed as workplace ministers?
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Geoff Knott, 29/02/2016