The Purse, The Sword & The Prepared Room

We have practiced for over 10 years the principles of Pioneer Mission found in Luke 10 in a Western Context…(Prayer Walking, Finding the Person of Peace, Gathering Communities, Making Disciples and MultiplyingAnd we’ve seen some fruit in this regard across the continent of Europe. It is simple (but not easy) to share the gospel, heal the sick and start new discipling communities with the unchurched in this context (in countries like Britain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, NorwayUkraine, Russia, Sweden and so on)

But with fruit, we’ve also seen barriers in the areas of sustainability. It’s fairly simple for Pioneer Prophets, Preachers and Planters to step out Luke 10 style and start new Discovery Bible Studies and Communities…but a common pattern across Europe is that after 3 months-6 months these new groups tend to disintegrate. If the group meets in the house of a ‘christian’ then it might last longer (perhaps up to 2-3 years) and then can run out of steam…

So in 2014 we were forced to slow down in the area of Pioneer Mission (front end of Multiplication Movements) to pray into what was needed to see sustainable movement momentum across the regions and cities of Europe…One outcome of this has been a revelation based on the instructions Jesus gives his disciples in Luke 22. This passage is of particular interest as some of the instructions Jesus gives here seem to fly in the face of his previous instructions given to the 72 disciples in Luke 10…

In this article I’m going to focus in on two counter-intuitive passages from Luke 22 (Luke 22:8-14 and Luke 22:35-38) that progress the mission from Level 1 to Level 2 and apply this to our collective mission across Europe and beyond in the present day

NOW, TAKE A PURSE
‘The purse’ represents a common financial pot that Jesus set up for the travelling Pioneer Mission team he formed (of 12+ people) to ‘invade’ the regions of Israel with the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ mission was well organised and strategic like a military operation. In Luke 10 Jesus sends at least 35 teams of 2 out into at least 35 towns and villages he was about to go to. In the initial skirmish (short term mission) he sends these teams out instructing them not to take a purse/any money with you.

But by Luke 22:35-38 Jesus says, ‘before I told you not to take a purse, and you lacked nothing, but from now on take a purse’. We know that during this whole period of Pioneer Mission, Jesus himself actually organised his mission team of twelve plus financially with a collective (common) purse. Luke 8 tells us that a group of women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases contributed to this mission team from their own resources. One of these woman (Joanna) was actually the wife of King Herod’s business manager (akin to the chancellor of the exchequer). We know that Judas kept hold of the money bag (common purse) into which donations were collated for this itinerant mission work (John 13:29)Progressing from the Pioneer stage of mission to the Development stage requires the establishing of sustainable financial infrastructure. Mission requires Mission Finance systems to sustain the work, so those who were tested by previously going out with nothing, and depending on the hospitality of others and the direction of the Holy Spirit to provide are now instructed to organise a purse for their work.

They are told, ‘now take your money AND a travelers bag’. The first trip (Luke 10) they weren’t to take any extra clothing, perhaps that indicated the shortness of the trip whereas a travelers bag indicates that the next stage of mission would be a little more long term

NOW, TAKE A SWORD
‘And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one!’ (Luke 22:36)
Doesn’t it strike you as an odd thing for Jesus to say. In the Luke 10 stage of mission, we are to search for a House of Peace and declare ‘Peace to this House’ and if a man of peace is there the peace will rest on that house. But here Jesus says ‘Buy a Sword’
The disciples reply, ‘Look, Lord, we have two swords among us’
To which Jesus replied, ‘That’s enough’ (Luke 22:38)

In light of considering the growth or progression of the mission to the next level, we might consider the progression of the message we are delivering to the people we are sent to and the tone in which the message is given. In the first instance (Luke 10), the message is ‘Peace to this household’ and ‘Repent for the Kingdom has Come’. But later, they are to take a sword. What could this mean?

Let’s consider these passages…
Jesus said, ‘I did not come to bring peace to the earth, but a sword’ (Matt 10:34). He said this when he was sending the 12 out in 2’s into Pioneer Mission. This sword represented a dividing line; ‘I’ve come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother […] your enemies will be right in your own household!’

Peter was one of Jesus’ disciples took him at his word and actually took hold of a sword. When the authorities came to arrest Jesus, Peter brandished the sword and cut off the ear of one of the religious associates. At this, Jesus told him to put away his sword and healed the man’s ear. However, it was Peter’s words on a later occasion that, as he preached publicly, ‘cut to the heart’ of a crowd of over 3000 men resulting in them crying out ‘what do we need to do to?’ This led to mass repentance as 3000 were baptised immediately and the first church was born.

Peter had learnt to wield the ‘sword of the spirit’ that cuts to the heart dividing soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:12-13). His words had authority and were backed by power

Do your words carry weight amongst the people and places you are are sent to?

The Apostles after the rise of Jesus, proclaimed in Jesus the resurrection of the dead and warned of the coming Judgment…

If you’ve been proclaiming ‘Peace’ to this house and city- perhaps it is now time to ‘take the sword’

The Sword and Purse together are said to represent Government and the legal courts
In the Middle Ages the sword was used in the rite of passage ceremonies that conferred knighthood; the tap on the shoulder (accolade) with the sword by the monarch is accepted to be the point at which the title is awarded. The passage in Luke 22 goes on to discuss the nature of leadership. Whilst the apostles argue over who the greatest is amongst them, Jesus let’s them know that they will govern, but not in the way the rulers of this world do so, they will be like servants who take the lowest rank. In the process of being developed as leaders, Satan will sift each of them like wheat resulting in one of them betraying Jesus, one will deny Jesus and all the rest will scatter when persecution comes.

However after the sifting process they will sit on thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel in the coming kingdom of Jesus Christ. They will form part of the new government (the government will be on Jesus’ shoulders) called the ekklesia (the church)

 

NOW, PREPARE A ROOM
Jesus sent Peter and John ahead and said, ‘Go and prepare the Passover meal, so we can eat it together’ ‘Where do you want us to prepare it?’ they asked him. He replied, ‘As soon as you enter Jerusalem, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. At the house he enters, say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. This is where you should prepare a meal. They went off to the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.’ (Luke 22:8-13)

A large room that is already set up!

Going beyond the organic to the organised requires a shift in mentality and methodology. Before Peter and John had been sent to search for a worthy house (Person of Peace) and stay there. Now they were to go to a place that had already been found (a large room) and prepare in advance for the arrival of a whole team of at least 12 men.

Moving ahead to the day of Pentecost when the first Church was born, Luke tells us that 120 of Jesus’ disciples were gathered together in an Upper Room (Acts 2:1). But where exactly was this upper room where they gathered? Although Luke doesn’t specify where the disciples were gathered in the Book of Acts, it is likely that Luke was referring to the same room mentioned in his previous letter (Luke 22) as he assumes his readers know which upper room he’s talking about and doesn’t give an explanation. They were ‘all’ together in this one place; Jesus’ 11 apostles plus Jesus’ mother, brothers and sisters and more…

What were they doing when they were gathered together?
They were praying together. (Acts 1:14) with the expectancy that direction would come from that

Previously they had eaten with Jesus the Lord’s Supper in this Upper Room (Luke 22:14-30)

They were waiting to receive the promised empowering of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses (Acts 1:8)

So there was an UP (prayer), IN (Lord’s Supper) and OUT (empowered as witnesses) dynamic to these gatherings

And when these 120 people were gathered together in the upper room, eating and praying together – God sent the Holy Spirit with fire, as Jesus promised would happen (Acts 1:4-5), and the church multiplied from one base of 120 to a multitude of churches meeting from house to house across an entire city…

FROM PIONEER MISSION TO DEVELOPING TRAINING BASES…
So for the past 3 years we switched strategy and have been working across Britain and Europe to establish Mission Bases that are essentially Training Bases from which teams of 12 to 72 can be sent out into the field to plant churches into the surrounding region and leaders can be trained.
This has meant going ahead into the areas we are being sent to and find a venue that has already been prepared, on many occasions this has turned out to be a local pub venue or bar (a venue large enough to host at least between 50-150 people). We are usually able to bring+share food in these venues (like Jesus and the disciples were able to do in the Upper Room of Luke 22), train workers in Luke 10 Pioneer Mission and Multiplication Movement Practices and Report Back what is happening on the field.
There is also the potential for this base to act as a House of Prayer for the surrounding people, places and spheres the team are being sent to…As we see our mission work in Europe and the Western Hemisphere progress at a macro level from Pioneer Mission (Level 1) to Developing Training Bases (Level 2) this will include the development of sustainable mission finance systems (the common purse, possibly a non-profit mission organisation), mission leadership that is able to cut through to the heart and govern in mission teams where leaders are developed and kingdom authority is exercised including the ability to appoint leaders from the harvest (the sword) and physical bases are established that go beyond house/small group size for the purpose of training, sending and reporting back (prepared place)
If you are involved in Multiplying Disciples, Leaders and Churches in the Harvest of Britain, Europe or the Western Hemisphere and this article chimes with you, then do get in touch!

 

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter J. Farmer July 28, 2017 at 11:21 am

Jonathan Fokker, engaged in Multiplication Movements in Netherlands made this comment on my Facebook page in relation to this article (that I felt was worth sharing here)

Great article Peter. We are working and thinking in the same direction in Holland, Germany and many other places in the world. The apostles also replicated this process in Antioch, Corinth and especially Ephesus, where they in the school of Tyrrannus send out all people so that all of Asia heard the word of the Lord. Interesting to see what the elements are the Lord wants to have in a mission base/hub. I see this:

1) Strategic location: the cities Antioch, Corinth and Ephesus were key cities
2) Teaching, training
3) Leadership development
4) Sending people out to plant new churches that multiply and start new movements
5) Finances – giving
6) A place to learn to work (Paul worked at least in Corinth, Thessalonica and Ephesus), bivocational workers
7) Prayer – prophetic revelation for apostolic action
8) Close culture: reach people in the surrounding regions, not exclusively, but there is a focus on the region

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David Schäfer July 29, 2017 at 10:10 am

Thx Peter, for those interesting thoughts.
Two (or three questions):
– Do you see reasons why those new communities die down after 3-6 months?
– Do you see networks of new churches that last longer? What’s the key difference there?
– Do you see already established mission bases in Western Europe that are financially sustainable?

Blessings!
David

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Peter J. Farmer August 14, 2017 at 12:13 pm

Hi David
Thanks for your response and questions to this blog article!
Your questions are very good- all of them are deep questions and the answers are not short

1. Why do new communities die down after 3-6 months?
There are I think a number of reasons. If the community (embryonic church) is made up of new disciples the foundation /DNA needs to be laid right and probably needs apostolic input. That community then needs to be strengthened by further apostolic and prophetic input as they were in the scriptures. But at some point local leaders need to be recognised that have come from the ‘harvest’ – and they need some kind of ongoing relationship and training from the apostolic/fivefold team.

Exisiting Simple Communities (organic/missional/simple churches)I have come across in Europe to date have been made up of pre-exisiting Christians. These can last longer than 3-6 months- usually up to 2-3 years. But if the church/network have no vision or courage to move into discipling communities with non-believers, the church/network tends to disintegrate over time. The group begins to shrivel down and become more and more inward looking. Those who want to see mission leave the group frustrated. Some leave the group because they now have very little fellowship and stuff for kids and so go and attend a larger church. Some move away etc etc

2. Do you see networks of new churches that last longer? What’s the key difference there?
We don’t yet see many new churches that last longer. The ones that do are usually connected in networks and have strong apostolic and prophetic leadership in the network. Over time this would develop into a fivefold (Ephesians 4:11) distributed team and as I said before there would be the intentional training and development of indigenous leaders

Also if the churches that are started do not become a tribal network (indigenous) it will not stick in the host culture- so if the new churches are too depending on the start-up team of pioneers but the rhythms and culture is of the pioneers and not the people who have been reached- the network/churches will not last

3. Do you see already established mission bases in Europe that are financially sustainable?
This is a more difficult question to answer
MissionBases do exist from the past- those connected with already established mission agencies- such as GEM, YWAM and so on. I’m not sure if those mission bases are financially sustainable – but many seem to have been going for a while

Some of these mission agencies are reconfiguring all or part of their mission into Movement principles and practices and so their mission bases could become training bases in that regard

In terms of new mission bases being established in relation to this article and discussions across Europe over the past few years- it’s still very early days.

For example in the UK some teams have been pioneering and experimenting with mission bases and training systems of various shapes and sizes. And I have travelled and met others who have mission bases of different types across Europe

Look forward to reconnecting in person soon (in Essen) to discuss more David…

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