I have just had a conversation with a team of church planters in a Western European nation. It is a nation that is traditionally considered to be difficult to reach. Their strategy is to build a series of small groups through primary evangelism before “going public” with regular Sunday worship services.
In the process they told me of someone who has recently made a decision to follow Christ. This person is a senior executive operating in the field of Human Relations. Not surprisingly they have many friends and connections many of whom are also interested in the kinds of spiritual conversations that led this individual to Christ. As I heard the story, two thoughts occurred to me.
First, I was reminded of the account of Paul meeting Lydia in Philippi. Lydia was a person of peace, rather like the individual that I had been hearing about. She had access to a wide circle of friends, neighbours, family and acquaintances. Lydia was a breakthrough person for the gospel and her conversion was key to the establishing of a significant Christian presence in that city. My second thought is that there are almost certainly thousands of such individuals across Western Europe, we just don’t know who they are or where precisely they live. These people carry in their relationship sets the potential to change the spiritual direction of Europe.
So how might we meet such people and draw them to faith in Christ? It is highly unlikely, though not impossible, that many will simply turn up at our existing churches. The best chance we have of meeting these individuals is either through church planting and the related evangelism that goes with it, or through churches that are deeply engaged in conversations with their local communities.