DISCERN A RIPE FIELD THAT
YOU CAN HARVEST NOW
Yes, bold servants of Jesus, you’re free to step beyond all restraints of tradition or society into a new, ripened field of receptive people whom God has prepared for you to harvest for His Kingdom.
Yes, Lord Jesus, like Joshua and Caleb who went ahead to reconnoiter Your Promised Land, we will venture out in faith. Grant us eyes to find that white field that is ready to reap.
Discern receptive, neglected people, nearby or afar, whom God has prepared for you to harvest, as Jesus said to do (John 4).
Who were approaching when Jesus told His disciples to look at fields ready to reap? Samaritans! Imagine what Peter thought: “But Lord, we don’t associate with those types!”
The disciples would have said “No” to those Samaritans, but Jesus said “Yes.” To see a movement in which many follow Christ, most workers must look beyond their immediate society to people with whom they would not normally associate, and say Yes, Lord, let me see them as you do.”
“Shake the dust from your feet” where people do not respond.
Workers often disobey Jesus trying to harvest fields that God has not yet prepared. Insecure church planters need a push to “shake the dust”; they unconsciously think, “I have to prove to myself that I can plant a church before leaving this field. Besides, I’ve invested so much time with these people! I’ve friends among them. Leave and all that is lost! Anyway, my agency assigned me to work where they stuck my pin in the home office map.”
Oh, what relief our Lord’s workers discover when they venture a bit farther down the street to find people who greet the good news with a joyful smile! If you have not yet found them, dust your feet; leave an unripe field and go find people that are 1) neglected, 2) receptive and 3) within your reach. People within reach means you can work with them without insurmountable obstacles. No fields are totally closed; however, cultural, political, economic or social factors will make some fields impractical for your team.
Most workers who shake the dust to see a breakthrough do not change their place of residence; they simply go to a poorer part of town. Jesus warned that it’s harder for a rich man to enter His kingdom than for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye (Luke 18:25). Western workers often forget that they and their friends are wealthy camels by worldwide standards and bond readily with middle class folk, most of whom are too proud to repent.
Note: Churches do not start multiplying among affluent camels, but a camel often sparks and leads a movement within the camel’s culture. After a generation passes, a movement spreads among camels, too; children of the first poor believers become affluent and influence others.
Define your area of responsibility by marking it on a map or in some other way showing where the people live to whom God is sending you.
Keep exploring until you, like the apostle Paul, are certain of your God-given area of responsibility. Let your team focus on a specific social network.
Pray fervently for the salvation of the people God has given you to reach.
God is the actual church planter; if He does not germinate the seed we sow, our work is useless. Paul planted, Apollos watered, and God gave the growth (1 Cor. 3:6). The term “church planter” is not in the Bible, and there were no permanent church planting teams. The apostles formed temporary task groups with new believers from the area to establish the first few churches in a region; then they moved on, and let those churches reach the remaining towns and cities of the area, keeping in touch by letter and visits. Those churches entailed nothing expensive and had no professionally trained, highly paid shepherds.
Except to initiate cross-cultural work, there is no need for highly trained church planting teams. Simply let churches make disciples as Jesus said, among friends and relatives locally and in nearby communities. This sustains a movement, as seen in fields around the world.