27 Oct, 2015 The Four Fields – Part I
Recently I was approached by a young man at a conference I was speaking at who asked if he could take a few minutes to share ‘The Four Fields’. I had no idea what it was about but I gave him the ok. He then proceeded to pull out an A4 sheet of paper and a pen. Then he began. It took him no more than two minutes to sketch out a diagramme on the paper explaining as he went. At the end of his two minutes I was thrilled and encouraged. So much so, that I have since shared the same ‘The Four Fields’ presentation to many, especially over the last two months as I met church leaders throughout the country on the Hope Project Vision Tour. It is this presentation I will be sharing with you over the next few months as I step by step share the presentation and potential applications for your encouragement.
By the way, in almost every environment where I have shared ‘The Four Fields’ in church leadership meetings, Pastors and Ministers have asked for a copy of the presentation so they can share it with others. This presentation ticks a lot of boxes for me. It is simple. It is reproducible. It is transferable. Once presented, it opens up a world of opportunity for self diagnosis, group diagnosis and church life diagnosis. It helps to highlight strengths and weaknesses in effectiveness towards ‘Great Commission’ fruitfulness.
As I share this with you over the coming months I encourage you to consider introducing your church members to ‘The Four Fields’. Share it one on one. Encourage exposure and discussion in small group gatherings. Go through the presentation with your leadership team and use it as a focus of reflection, discussion, prayer and planning.
Let me take you back to that first presentation two months ago when I saw ‘The Four Fields’ for the first time. We will call the young man Eric. Eric took a pen out of his pocket and drew a large rectangle on the paper the same dimensions as the paper but slightly smaller. The paper he presented in landscape format. He then divided the rectangle into four equal rectangles. He then wrote above the large rectangle ‘The Four Fields’. He then said “Let me share with you the big picture of what God is doing around the world today. Like the top of a jigsaw puzzle box that reveals the completed work, so what I am going to show you now is God’s big picture strategy for the world today.”
At this point, I was intrigued. How could God’s big picture for the globe be quickly captured on an A4 in just 2 minutes? For many years I worked with a missional and equipping ministry assisting churches and church leaders to train and equip their people to be active and fruitful in reaching others for Christ. Early on in my training with that organisation, I was taught to teach that which was simple, reproducible and transferable. Simple – so that what is taught could be easily comprehended. Reproducible – so that is can be replicated time and time again without much effort, cost or difficulty. Transferable – so that it can be contextualised and then applied to most environments who then can pass it on to others.
When equipping our people, I recommend asking the question, ‘Is this simple, reproducible and transferable?’ I encourage you to access the training materials on the AllTogether.co.nz website, including the outstanding ‘10 Day Challenge’ resource, as a simple, reproducible and transferable concepts and tools.
Field #1: Engage
Eric, with one undulating flow of his pen, drew rolling hills across the middle of the two top rectangles representing fields. He then places a number 1 at the top left hand corner of the top left rectangle and wrote ‘Go’. He said, “God would have his church to Go into the unchurched world and engage it”. At that point he wrote the word ‘Engage’ in the middle of the field in rectangle one.
Let me finish this post with reflecting on this small but significant point. Joseph Aldrich writes in his book ‘Lifestyle Evangelism’, “People are first attracted to Christians, then they are attracted to Christ”. He powerfully asserts, “There is no impact without contact”. He argues this first point; that we cannot seed the gospel and impact lives without connecting with people.
Mark Mittelberg teams up with Bill Hybels and Lee Strobel in the empowering book ‘Becoming a Contagious Christian’, and in it the following equation is presented. CP+CC+HP=MI. Close Proximity plus Clear Communication plus High Potency equals Maximum Impact. In other words, we can be very fruitful in reaching people for Christ if we will first engage with them, followed by looking for the opportunity to seed the gospel, whilst maintain a vibrant personal walk with God.
Joseph Aldrich is right. There is no impact without contact. God wants His people to be engaging with His world.
Bringing it home
We may be great at engagement with God and engagement with fellow believers – but the challenge is clear. We need to have and develop significant engagement with those who don’t know Christ! Our challenge is that life and ministry crowd our personal lives and we can easily find ourselves disassociated from the very people we are called to impact for Christ. This is a trap we as Christian leaders can find ourselves in, let alone our people and our church as a whole.
How could you engage more intentionally with the unchurched? How could you encourage your members to engage more with the unchurched? Doing so is the first, and vital, step in a process. Next month I want to brainstorm with you how you can lift the level in this key field of engagement.