Posted by: richard | 21 October, 2009

LifeShapes – the Octagon

Living a Mission-Minded Life

The final shape, the Octagon, is all about moving away from a notion of evangelism (spreading the good news of Jesus) that is guilt-based and guilt-ridden, and releasing us into Jesus’s way of sharing the good news: grace-based and spirit-led.

The key to this approach is finding the Person of Peace.  Read Luke 10:1-11 and you see that the disciples were sent to find the person of peace, someone open/receptive to the message, and a gatekeeper to their whole town/community.   Stay with the person of peace, says Jesus, and you will reach their community.  We need to move away from dragging people into our communities and actually work with people in whom God is working, and create new Christian communities around the person of peace and their network of relationships.

Acts 16 provides an interesting perspective on Paul and people of peace (Lydia, the Jailer).   See also Jesus in John 4 with the Samaritan woman.

5 things about the person of peace:

  • Time – for whom is the time right? Which people, groups, cultural segments?
  • Team – Paul had Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, Luke and Titus.  Jesus sent disciples out in twos.  Who are we sharing and praying about evangelism with?
  • Target – Jesus was strategic in His outreach (lost sheep of Israel). We can concentrate on those who are receptive to us.
  • Task – Our task is to find the Person of Peace, and then share “the reason for our hope” with them.  Luke 10 suggests they will welcome us, listen to us, and serve/support us (it’s a two way thing, so we need to let them contribute in this way).
  • Trouble – If the teacher is not welcomed, don’t expect that the students will be welcomed either. Our mission into the world has not changed.  We may well get resistance or persecution – but we can simply “knock the dust from our feet” and move on in our search to find the person of peace.
The Octagon of Mission

The Octagon of Mission

The rest of the Octagon simply fills in some detail around what we might need to be aware of as we look for, and work with, the person of peace in our lives:

  • Presence: Jesus is where you are – look out for a person of peace in all situations
  • Passing Relationships: The Sprint – discern when we can sow seeds that we will likely not harvest
  • Permanent Relationships: The Marathon – slow burn, it might take 10 years before the person becomes a person of peace for you
  • Proclamation: we need sometimes simply to proclaim (tell) others what we believe; this helps to identify persons of peace to work with.  If people do not respond, we stop there and move on. If somebody responds, we may have found a person of peace.
  • Preparation: Moving people along the scale.  Even if people are a long way away from commitment, they may be receptive to a timely word.
  • Power: following up when God moves in a big way.  Remember this is His work, and we just join in! A reminder too to pray.
  • Perception: Feeling the temperature – be spiritually sensitive when you meet people.  What does God want to do in their lives?

Jesus let the rich young ruler walk away.  He wasn’t guilt driven but always looked to do what he saw the father doing.  Jesus says on a few occasions that the harvest is plentiful and just look at the fields… so may we too have our eyes opened to find the ripe harvest.

For a fantastic and exciting look at the person of peace concept in practice, I strongly recommend Neil Cole’s book Organic Church, which gives real-life examples of churches growing up in all sorts of places simply by looking for and working with the person of peace.

If you found this post helpful, I strongly suggest you purchase Building A Discipling Culture by Mike Breen (buy from Amazon here).  The book goes through Life Shapes in detail and explains how best to introduce them to a Christian community.

— Continue the discipleship and mission conversation ! —

Thanks for visiting! We have found Life Shapes really helpful in creating a culture of discipleship and mission as our home group has made the transition to an outward-focused missional community.  Why not follow our new adventures on (or via Twitter or Facebook)

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