Years ago I got a call from the Vineyard office inviting me to a small workshop that John Wimber was leading on church planting. I’m sure there are many things that I learned from that seminar, but there’s one thing I will never forget.
One of John’s main sessions was on the importance of GATHERING NEW PEOPLE. For quite some time he gave one practical suggestion after another of how we could connect with new people and invite them to our church. He concluded with a story.
Months earlier he had sent out a young church planter. John hadn’t spoken to him for quite some time, until the young man attended a seminar John was teaching. During one of the breaks, the young man came up and greeted John. After a brief conversation, John asked, “How’s you’re church plant?” The young man became slightly uncomfortable, “Well, not so well. So far it’s just my wife and I, and a few others. We’re all pretty discouraged.” “Have you been getting out, meeting new people?” John asked. The young man admitted, “No, not that many – you’re right, I need to do that.”
Several months later, John saw the young man at another event and noticed he seemed to be avoiding him. Sensing what was going on, John went straight up to the young man, and asked directly, “Well, have you been getting out among the people in your community, making new relationships?” This time the young man, hung his head and confessed, “No, there’s just been so many things that have come up that make it hard.”
At this point I was sitting a few rows back, starting to squirm in my seat. I too was a young man, trying to plant a church. I too was struggling to gather new people. And I too had difficulty getting the courage to get out and meet new people.
John become very focused, as if he was no longer just speaking to that young man, but directly to all of us, “IF YOU DON’T GET OUT OF YOUR HOUSE, OUT OF YOUR CHURCH, AND GO MEET NEW PEOPLE, YOUR CHURCH WILL NEVER GROW!!!”