When you go out among the lost looking for persons of peace to see groups started, your dream is that the group would eventually come to Christ together, get baptized together, and form a church together. It seems like a far-off dream when you first get started because you realize you have to talk to so many people to get groups started & it takes quite a few groups being started to get a church planted. Even still, you begin to pray & dream about the day when you see your first church planted among previously lost people.
That day came for us this past week.
Our teams have spent about a year now going out among the lost seeking persons of peace to start new groups. We’ve seen many groups started with lost people but hadn’t seen any of them come to Christ together & plant a church until this week.
Let me share the story.
Gary is a church planter on one of our DMM Church Planting Teams. About 6 months ago he started going to the county jail seeking to make disciples. His approach was to go into a pod & host a class on how to become the spiritual leader for your family. That’s a felt need with many of the guys in the jail. They feel like they’ve been failures as husbands and fathers and really want to lead their families better when they get out.
As these men come to his class, he begins to show them how they can “listen to & learn from the Father” (John 6:45) through a Discovery Group. He demonstrates how to use the 7-Question DBS process & then sends them back into their pod to gather their friends together to begin reading, obeying & sharing God’s Word.
One of the DGs that Gary started had 4 guys in it. As they journeyed together through the Bible, God began to speak to them through his Word and these guys became more & more excited. They eventually committed their lives to Christ together. Gary guided them through this process as a coach but let them discover these truths on their own from the Bible. After committing their lives to Christ, Gary encouraged them to get baptized together as the Bible commands.
They were all very eager to do this.
Gary worked it out with the jail to have a baptism tank placed in one of the classrooms where the men could get baptized. The men invited many of their friends in their pod to come to their baptism & about 25 people showed up to listen to these guys share their testimonies of being saved & transformed by Jesus. Several other church planters went out there to witness the baptism & the report we got back was that it was one of the most powerful things they had ever seen.
Now these guys will begin reading a sequence of “church formation” passages in the Bible and will begin to function as a church right there in the jail.
This would be considered a 1st Generation church since it was directly influenced by one of our DMM Church Planting Teams. As these men go out among the lost, start groups, and plant their own churches, those would be considered 2nd Generation churches. And as those 2nd Generation churches go out among the lost, start groups, and plant churches, those would be considered 3rd Generation churches. And so on.
Remember, a movement is often defined as multiple streams of 4th Generation churches among previously lost people in a short period of time.
Our prayer is that this would the first of many 1st Generation churches that will be planted in the days to come through DGs coming to Christ & being baptized together.
As I reflect on this milestone in our DMM journey, it seems fitting that our first church among the lost would be planted in a jail. Jesus said when we visit the prisoner, we’re visiting him (Matthew 25:39-40). We plan to keep visiting Jesus out in the jail!