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Starting a Discipleship Movement- Neil's story from An Army of Ordinary People

"You'll come back here!"

Neil was sitting in a meeting in Long Beach, California, when the Lord clearly spoke these words into his heart. Not only did the Lord speak plainly, but He gave Neil an impression of the house he and his family would be living in; Neil knew the exact residence because he had lived in Long Beach for ten years earlier in his life.

Neil grew up on the beach and loved the ocean. He had been a lifeguard for several years in Long Beach but he had moved away and become a pastor in a traditional church.

Over time, Neil's passion for discipleship, church planting, and mission made him rethink his calling to a traditional church. He began training someone with more of a pastoral heart to take over his position as pastor of the church so he would be free to plant churches. He had a vision to multiply small groups in an organic fashion-organic churches. He wanted to work in an urban area with a large university population-a city with a beach for baptisms, of course! Long Beach fit the description perfectly.

An Army of Ordinary People

Neil had a team of a dozen people and a set of well- laid plans. They picked a location for a coffeehouse that they would use for evangelistic outreach.

The house Neil sensed God had chosen for him and his family became available. He and his wife, Dana, packed up their house and set out with their three kids, Lacey the dog, a cat, a bird, and all their possessions. They were ready to go into the coffeehouse business.

But when they went to pick up the key to their new house, the owner broke the bad news: "The current tenant has decided not to move."

Neil and his family stored all their possessions in the coffeehouse, then began a series of moves. The family slept on friends' borrowed couches when they could; they stayed at a friend's cabin in the mountains for a couple of days; for two weeks they stayed in a motel room.

One evening while they were still living in the motel, Neil was walking Lacey to their usual spot on top of a hill in the middle of Long Beach. There, surrounded by the sounds of  the city-gunshots, cars screeching, people yelling at each other, dogs barking, sirens-he began weeping for the city and the darkness present there.

"Lord of the harvest, send workers to this city and change this place. Carve a church out of the darkness," Neil begged God.

"I did not send you here to start coffeehouses; I sent you to start churches. Find an existing coffeehouse and pray a church into being there," the Lord told him. So much for his team's business plans!

Seven weeks later, the tenant vacated the house. When Neil's family was finally able to move in, someone even paid their motel bill. "It was God's way of teaching us that we had to follow His way rather than pursuing our own plans," Neil says.

One day when Neil and Lacey were exploring their new neighborhood, Neil saw a coffeehouse four blocks away. He and the other team members started hanging out daily at the coffeehouse-drinking coffee, playing games, listening to people's stories, and praying.

The team members met for church in Neil's home. With a dozen adults, it was already a large group, but without a single new believer. Their mission to the city was clear. Everyday, team members spent time at the coffeehouse getting to know the clientele.

The first night that someone from the coffeehouse came to the church, she said, "I go to a large church all the time, but God is here in this place!" The next week the woman brought her best friend, who then brought her best friend, who brought her best friend! One by one people began to come to Christ.

In just a short time, Neil's living room was filled...

An Army of Ordinary People

Read the rest HERE (PDF)

Buy the book it's full of Stories of Real-Life Men and Women Simply Being the Church | An Army of Ordinary People

© 2010 Felicity Dale 
Excerpt from Chapter 15 of An Army of Ordinary People.  Used by permission.

Other resources by Felicity Dale:

The Rabbit & The Elephant: Why Small is the New Big for Today's Church
Simply Church

Getting Started: Practical Guide to Starting Simple Churches
Women in Organic Church Leadership Roles / Workshop

Mobilizing the Other Half of the Army

See also A Dangerous Question- What is the Church?
The Most Ignored Words of Jesus by Guy Muse

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