DMM counter-intuitives—“Share only where Jesus has prepared someone’s heart to hear.” Start with a person of peace (Luke 10:6).
Too often we butt in with a gospel truth where no one is interested in hearing it. Jesus warned his disciples, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces” (Matthew 7:6). Why won’t we listen to our Savior?
For hundreds of years, traditional missions directs evangelists to walk into the middle of a village as the people return from their fields and proclaim in a loud voice, “We are here to tell you about Jesus and the Cross.” Many are ridiculed, beaten and martyred. Christianity seen as an invading religion provokes a violent response.
If indigenous evangelists keep getting driven out and even killed, how can there be a Disciple Making Movement? In Northern India a strategic coordinator returned to Scripture for an answer. He found it implemented the Person of Peace strategy outlined in the Gospels.
Initially no one believed the results. Over the next five years indigenous evangelists planted more churches than had been in the previous 50 years. Now there are more that 40,000 new churches in North India. The Person of Peace principle played a significant role in this Disciple Making Movement.
Believers among Unreached Peoples still face tremendous persecution. Yet, rather than being driven out and even martyred, the evangelists use the Person of Peace strategy and it allows them to share the gospel in places that earlier were totally closed to traditional methods. The principle is not new; Christ gave it to the disciples. God’s way is truly the best way.
How can I determine whether or not a person’s heart is prepared to hear the gospel? The great need, as my mentor puts it, is to be “overtly spiritual without being obnoxiously religious.” Every encounter with a person gives us an opportunity to talk about a spiritual reality. The goal is to quickly assess whether this person is currently open, or at least curious about spiritual things. Often people who are closed to religious discussions are intrigued by spiritual ones. Many who refuse to debate religious squabbles are intrigued by spiritual dialogue.
Some Persons of Peace are open to spiritual things because of things God has been doing in their lives for a long time. Note that Cornelius’s prayers and helping the poor had caught God’s attention (Acts 10:4). Lydia was gathered with a group of women for prayer along the river (Acts 16:13). By contrast, though, God used remarkable circumstances to open the heart of the Philippian jailor (Acts 16:22-34). Paul’s authentic spiritual conversations resulted in these two later encounters. But sometimes, like with Cornelius, the Person of Peace finds us! It is an incredible joy to be God’s speaker to a prepared heart!