"Is it happening here in Taiwan? Can it happen in Taiwan?" I ask the students whether or not the Bible verse we are studying is true to local churches and to Christians living here in the island. Most of them respond with affirmation. They relate some anecdotes illustrating the biblical narrative. I am happy. I know there is more work to be done but this is a good start. These group of students are seeing the importance of planting new congregations.
Yesterday, I was teaching some principles of church planting as part of my lessons in the course Strategies of Missions. We were talking about Jesus' command in Luke 10, his instruction to the Seventy Disciples on bringing on the harvest. My discussion focused on verses five to seven.
“Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house.” (Luke 10:5-7, ESV)
Jesus' method is to first ask and seek out the "man of peace" before anything else. It is only after this person is found that a productive ministry of reproducing Christian communities will occur. Can we do this in this modern time? Should we do it?
The main problem with church planting strategies is that workers don't even try looking for the "man of peace." And when the church planting effort fails, workers are quick to cite many different reasons for its failure, when in fact, there really was no intentional efforts to begin with, the first step of seeking out this "man of peace" as Jesus had admonished us.
I am glad that this group of students are seeing the possibilities here in Taiwan. Vibrant church planting can happen here in Taiwan. "I am encouraged." I tell my students. "I am more resolved to continue this work of seeking out Free Methodist pastors and leaders here in Taiwan who are intentional in practicing Jesus' admonition of looking for the Man (or Woman) of Peace in their local communities."