Paul Becker is the founder and President of Dynamic Church Planting International, probably the most prolific and effective church planting ministry in the history of the church. When I was a young church planter Paul used the galleys of the book that eventually became Dynamic Church Planters Handbook to mentor me as a church planter.
For a week I stayed with Paul and his family and then Paul encouraged me and acted as a sounding board for some of my crazy ideas during the months of our pre-natal development of the new church.
That was 27 years ago. Today, The New Dynamic Church Planting Handbook* starts out with this story on page 2.
Paul was leading a day of community surveying with forty college students. After worshiping the Lord, they prayed for receptivity as they prepared to go door-to-door in the target community. The group then dispersed into the community in teams of two.
Paul and his partner went from house to house, listening to people and tabulating their answers to survey questions. By mid-afternoon they were ready to head back to the bus and return home. But they decided to knock on one more door.
A smiling woman in her late thirties greeted them and said, “I am so happy you’ve come. I’ve been looking for a church.”
Brenda, a single mother going through a divorce, had two children—Justin, age 15, and Bettina, age 12. Within a short time all three put their trust in Jesus.
The small family became regular in church activities. Justin was a fine young man, and helped organize and build the youth group.
After a year, Paul’s ministry in the church plant came to an end. He moved on to plant another church. [Marty’s note: This was from a period of Paul’s life when he planted four churches in eight years while living in the same house! Basically, Paul would take a church through it’s pre-natal year and its first year of growth and then turn the church over to another pastor and start all over again.]
A year passed, and then Paul received a call at his office.
It was Brenda, and she was weeping. Through her sobs she was able to say, “Justin was driving with three other boys, and they had a terrible accident. Justin is dead.”
Paul’s first reaction was shock. A vibrant young man was gone so quickly, so unexpectedly.
But then he thought, “What if we hadn’t taken the time to do one last survey that day? And what if that new church hadn’t been planted at all? Would Justin have heard the gospel in the two brief years of life he had left to him if it weren’t for that new church?
Justin is home in heaven now. He is saved for all eternity, in the glorious presence of Jesus. And that’s all because a new church reached out to his community with the good new of Jesus Christ.
Some lessons for all of us:
Never underestimate what God can do with the simplest of interactions.
The hope of the gospel is a real balm in the hard realities of life below heaven.
Church planting and all the work it takes to make it happen really does make a difference.
Nothing done for Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit is wasted. Nothing.
* The New Dynamic Church Planting Handbook is available as a free download in pdf format from the DCPI.org website.