Monday, December 21, 2009

Kent Smith (3): Conditions for Community Formation

What conditions are needed for vibrant families of Jesus to form? This is a big question—but a great place to look for answers is to notice what Jesus actually did and taught. Two factors he seemed to think were important are:

· People of Peace: God-prepared individuals and communities who are ready to receive the life of God. This just makes sense when you think about it. God initiates, God invites his Bride. No kidding—He will build His church. No kidding—apart from Him we can do nothing. When we go casting about for other options we are wasting time and effort.

· Kingdom Carriers, Peace Bearers: Little communities (especially pairs), who carry the vision, message, power and life of the Kingdom as they listen to and follow the King into his work.

This is what Jesus did. This is what he taught his disciples to do. And this was standard practice in life of the early church as vibrant (and flawed!) families of Jesus permeated the Roman Empire (see the map).

So—what do you think about this? In the final post in this series, I’ll suggest some tools that can help people wanting to better engage this life. For now, I’m wondering if these conditions seem as important/possible today as they did two millennia ago? Are there more important factors for multiplied, vibrant families of Jesus in our time?


  1. Out of curiosity, how do we (Christ followers) recognize those that God has preparred as people of Peace?

  2. Nick, your question is another big one: How do we id a person of peace? Here's my shot at a short answer: look for attentive desire. Who is prepared to receive God's reign as you bear it?

    We see this focus right through the life of Jesus. Think of: Nicodemus, the woman at the well, Zacheus, Mary and Martha, the twelve, etc.

    This just makes sense when we remember that God through you is calling his Bride. Intimacy forms from mutual desire--so when you come bearing God's life and peace, people of peace will receive you with interest.

    God in them is on a quest for God in you. Desire is kindled, and over time both parties know it.

  3. I have observed a few things about discovering people of peace. One, I try to be attentively looking. Two, I listen to the prompting of the Lord in conversation. Three, the person of peace is often discovered in the process of relationship building. Four, people of peace often find you rather than you discovering them.

    One of our house church leaders met me on a racquetball court floor. After playing we had a great conversation and found that he was interested in a Bible study. Information that he did not share on the spot--I found out later--He and his wife were praying the night before asking God to bring someone into their life that could teach them the Bible. They are amazing spiritual parents three years later.

    Another family I met working with a pyrotechnic company. I went to meet with the husband while he was preparing for a rooftop show. I was asking about a rental property he had. He was persistent in asking about how our church was going. I blew that question off for various reasons. The spirit would not leave either of us alone after that conversation. His sister had introduced him to the idea of house church and he had been praying for a house church to participate with. 18 months later he is a great leader in listening to the Lord.

    I felt prompted to ask a woman about the Lord, I didn't know where to start. God invited me to ask her about her tatoo. Within 2 minutes we were talking about our faith. She has gathered a handful of non-Christians in her home that meet every week exploring God with her.

    Those are a few instances that I have experienced that illustrate God's movement ahead of us and then providentially drawing us together for his work.

  4. Those are great stories, Hobby! Thanks for sharing them. One more observation I would make is that as a result of praying Lk 10:2b each day with one of my CO2 partners, I've become much more alert to seeing "people of peace". Because I'm asking the Lord of the harvest daily for these people, I naturally have my eyes open for His answers. Sounds like you are experiencing the same thing.