My friend and coworker Brittany Gonzales just posted some wonderful thoughts on what we do here at 320 Network. I’ve had the same experience as she when I have tried to explain what we do. Most of the time when I tell someone that we plant churches, I can see their eyes begin to glaze over. “Why do we need another church? There are plenty of churches!”
So I have begun to take another approach. Now my answer is something like this: “Oh, we build relationships with people we meet who are lonely or hurting or directionless, and we love them. Sooner or later we have an opportunity to tell them our “Jesus stories”, and we help lead them through their own “Jesus story”. We gather these people into communities of believers where they can grow and be encouraged and serve each other and the world around them. These communities grow into house churches. When a church reaches two dozen folks, eight of them pioneer out to begin a new house church. That’s what we do.”
I don’t see as many glazed over eyes as I used to. Most folks now respond with something like, “Wow! That’s amazing!”
And it is!
For us, everything begins with relational evangelism. There is a reason it’s called “relational evangelism” and not “evangelistic relationalism”. In our culture, relationships come first. They matter A LOT. They trump almost everything.
So if I want to get the opportunity to speak into a person’s life, I have to earn that right. I have to love them first. I have to listen to them first. I have to spend time with them. I have to BE Jesus to them before they will let me TELL them about Jesus. So, we spend a lot of time out in the world. We don’t spend all day in an office – that’s not where the people are. We put ourselves in a position where we can interact with people. Yesterday I had a meeting at a popular restaurant here. While I was there I had the opportunity to get to know my waitress, and to pray with the head chef. Two days ago I spent almost an hour in our parking lot talking and praying with a new friend. Our planters have befriended and encouraged so many people in our apartment complexes, at coffee shops, at their part-time jobs, etc…
There is a spiritual principle at work here. Jesus was called “Immanuel”, “God WITH us”. He left heaven to come live among us, to walk alongside us. He didn’t love people from a distance – He loved us up close and personal. He still does, because that’s really the only way to love people. Jesus had a very simple ministry plan. He woke up every morning, walked outside, and loved the people His Father put in front of Him. He walked slowly through crowds. He looked at people. He stopped. He listened. He touched people. He got to know them.
That still works today. But this is not a ministry technique. (That would reduce people to “evangelistic projects”.) This is what we are built for, and called to do. This is what it means to be a Christ-follower. Every morning we wake up, walk outside, and pray this prayer: “Father, help us to see the people you see today. He us to stop, engage them, listen to them, love them, be Jesus to them.” Relationships matter, because people matter to God. And if people matter to God, they should matter to me.
Hey, would you consider a couple of things for us? First, would you please remember us in prayer? God has already acted supernaturally on our behalf in so many ways, and it is because of prayer. Second, would you prayerfully consider supporting us financially in this ministry? Just click on “Support our 320 Network Planters” on our website. Thanks!