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No Matter Where you are in life, you can serve God right there. In this revised and updated edition of An Army of Ordinary People, church planter Felicity Dale shows how God has always used-and is still using-ordinary believers like you to carry out His work in simple ways throughout the world.
This inspiring collection of real-life stories introduces you to ordinary people who've practiced "simple church"-in their own homes, workplaces, or neighborhoods-and the remarkable things that have happened as a result. You'll meet people instrumental in leading others to God-even helping to free them from addictions or the stigma of their criminal pasts; parents teaching bible lessons to kids; a couple inviting their neighbors over for dinner and conversation. You'll see the gospel spreading, and lives being changed.
And the only question remaining is: Are you ready for your own story to begin?
For they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. - ACTS 4:13
These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. - ACTS 17:6, NKJV
* In any land, when laborers, mechanics, clerks, or truck drivers _ teach the Bible, lead in prayer, tell what God has done for them, or exhort the brethren, the Christian religion looks and sounds natural to ordinary men. Whatever unpaid laymen, earning their living as others do, subject to the same hazards and bound by the same work schedules, lack in correctness of Bible teaching or beauty of prayers, they more than make up for by their intimate contact with their own people. - DONALD MCGAVRAN, Understanding Church Growth
If you had met Hank in the large grocery store where he worked, you would have found a soft- spoken, unassuming man. In fact, the produce manager was so introverted, his friends jokingly said that it was a real achievement if they could get him to string three words together.
Years before, Hank had played in the worship band at a legacy church, but eventually drifted away. When a friend learned that Hank wasn't attending church, he invited Hank to visit his church that met in a home. To Hank's surprise, an old friend was leading the group-Hank and Doug had been in the worship band together. Now Doug pastored a legacy church and also led the home-based group.
"A couple of us guys get together at Starbucks every week," Doug told Hank. "We read some chapters out of the Bible during the week. Then on Fridays we get together to hold each other accountable for what is going on in our lives and to pray for our friends. We call it a life transformation group. Would you like to join us?"
As Hank devoured Scripture, prayed for non- Christian friends, and confessed his struggles to his accountability partners each week, things started happening.
The first change was unexpected and devastating. Hank's wife of more than twenty years left and then divorced him. Drawing on God's strength, Hank threw himself even more vigorously into what the Lord was doing in his life, and his spiritual life accelerated like wildfire.
"I'm not sure what's going on," Hank admitted to Doug one day. "For no reason that I can figure out, other employees at work keep asking me to pray for them. They never used to do that. There are other Christians around who are much more vocal about their faith than I am, but I'm the one people confide in. What do you think is going on?"
"Do you remember what we learned in our Experiencing God Bible study?" Doug asked. "We need to see what God is doing and join Him in it. I think God is doing this. I wonder what He has in mind. Do you think some of your friends from work would be willing to get together with you to study the Bible?"
Hank wasn't a trained pastor. He had never gone to college, let alone seminary. After graduating from high school, he had joined the military. Hank knew he still had so much to learn about God. Could he really start a church?
When Hank asked the coworkers for whom he had been praying if they wanted to meet with him in his home, only one of them said yes. But when Hank mentioned the idea to several of his family members, they wanted to come and bring some of their friends. So Hank started his first church, with a majority of people who did not know Jesus. One by one, they gave their hearts to the Lord and then began experiencing remarkable transformations in their lives.
Two months after the church began, Hank was carrying a large, heavy pallet at work. Not seeing a hose that was lying on the ground, he tripped and fell, shattering his ankle. For the next three months, he was confined to his bed. Hank used the time to pray and read his Bible as well as other Christian books. The church continued to meet, with members gathering around Hank in his small apartment.
One day Hank's mother came by to check on him. During the visit she asked, "Would you start a church in my house too?" She lived about twenty miles away. Hank's second church was a real family affair-many of his fifteen siblings and their children joined. A month later, some of Hank's grown children who had never been involved in church asked if he would do something similar for them.
But God wasn't done yet. Three months later, a woman telephoned Hank. "I met your son the other day, and he was telling me about how you run churches in people's homes," she said. "I would love to have something like that in my home. Would you be willing to show me how?" A fourth church was born, grew rapidly, and spawned two other groups. In less than a year Hank, the guy people teased because he never said anything, had birthed six churches!
Witnessing God's Healing
Hank and two other Christians were at the hospital one day to visit José a friend who was in a coma from a drug overdose-a botched suicide attempt. (The twenty-one-year-old had been heavily involved in gangs and drugs most of his life.) When they arrived at the ICU, a group of doctors was gathered around José's bed, preparing permission forms to harvest his organs. José was brain-dead; the doctors had just pulled the plug on his life-support machines. The grieving relatives were waiting in the hallway.
"Why don't we pray for José anyway?" one of Hank's friends suggested. The small group of believers gathered around the bed, laid their hands on José and prayed, "Lord, when You walked this earth, You healed the sick and raised the dead! Will You come and show Your power again in this situation?" Then Hank and his friends left to get something to eat.
When they returned to the ICU, there was a lot of activity and an air of suppressed excitement. One of José's relatives came up to Hank and his friends with tears streaming down his cheeks.
"You will not believe what just happened! Shortly after you left, José opened his eyes. The doctors couldn't believe it. All their tests indicated he was dead. Look at him now!"
Hank couldn't believe what he saw. José was sitting up in bed eating a Popsicle.
On another occasion, Hank prayed for a girl with a serious brain tumor and she was healed. Hank had grown into a man of faith who knew beyond any shadow of doubt that God heals the sick and raises the dead.
But there is something else you need to know about Hank. A few years ago, Hank was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, a debilitating condition characterized by progressive loss of muscle control. For some time, Hank had been having difficulty performing simple physical tasks. He never fully recovered from his broken ankle and had an increasingly tough time walking. Yet most of the churches Hank started were planted during the years when his physical condition was steadily deteriorating.
Eventually he needed a wheelchair, was unable to drive, and required personal assistance for several hours each day. During this time, Hank developed other leaders who were able to take responsibility for the churches. Members of the network helped to take care of him, and the churches frequently met in his apartment around his wheelchair. Hank remained unfailingly cheerful and excited about what the Lord was doing in his life and the lives of people God had touched through him.
Although Hank died in December 2007, his story lives on.
Ordinary People; Extraordinary Results
All over the world, God is using ordinary believers like Hank-or you and me-to plant churches. In countries such as China and India, among others, hundreds of thousands of people become Christians every year because of the multiplication of these simpler forms of church.
It is no longer exclusively up to the trained professional who has been to Bible college or seminary to advance the Kingdom. Housewives and factory workers, businesspeople and doctors are leaving their comfortable pews and heading into their worlds to make disciples. Many non-Christians who would never darken the door of a church building have no problem meeting in small groups called simple, organic, or house churches.
Just imagine what would happen if ordinary men and women by the thousands were equipped to replicate that growth in home after home.
About one-third of Christians in the United States are not attending an organized church, but they have not given up on their Lord. Imagine what could happen if this group caught hold of the simple church vision and discipled not-yet-believers in their own homes within their circle of friends.
There are many people within legacy churches who have a passion to reach out to those who do not know Jesus. Imagine what could happen if they were trained and released to start these simpler forms of church.
God will use anyone who is willing to advance His Kingdom. The question is, are we ready to let God use us?
When I look at Hank's life, I know I have no excuse!
Excerpted from an army of ORDINARY PEOPLE by FELICITY DALE Copyright © 2010 by Felicity Dale. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Foreword George Barna ix
Chapter 1 God Uses Ordinary People to Do the Extraordinary: The Produce Manager Who Planted Churches 1
Chapter 2 What Is Church?: The Couple Who Learned from Their Mistakes 9
Chapter 3 The 10:2b Virus: The Men behind a Prayer Movement 37
Chapter 4 The Great Commission: The Woman Who Loved Her Neighbors 51
Chapter 5 Bearing Much Fruit: The Troubled Teen Whose Life Made a Difference 71
Chapter 6 Luke 10 Principles: The Woman with a Heart as Big as Texas 89
Chapter 7 The Holy Spirit Leads Us: The Man Who Followed God's Directions 101
Chapter 8 Good Soil: The Man Who Believed God Could Never Love Him 111
Chapter 9 Jesus Is Building His Church: The Man Who Seized God's Opportunities 127
Chapter 10 Church Is Built on Relationships: The Woman Who Was Looking for Intimacy 139
Chapter 11 Church Is Family: The Couple Who Realized That Church Begins at Home 153
Chapter 12 The Kingdom at Work: The Man Who Prayed on the Job 163
Chapter 13 Service and Strategy: Students Who Brought God's Kingdom to Their Campuses 175
Chapter 14 Stone Soup Church: The Woman Who Contributed Her Unique Gifts 187
Chapter 15 Discipleship and Training: The Man Who Started a Discipleship Movement 197
Chapter 16 Kingdom Finances and Kingdom Kids: The Couple Who Believed God Uses Money and Children 213
Chapter 17 To Transition or Not to Transition?: The Pastor Who Brought Healing to the Business Community 227
Chapter 18 No Empire Building, No Control, and No Glory: The Man Who Loved to Help God's Kingdom Grow 239
Chapter 19 The Bigger Picture: Watching God Move in a Powerful Way 251
Chapter 20 Paradigm Shifts: How Our Perspectives Have Changed 261
Chapter 21 Where Do You Go from Here? 265
Posted August 15, 2010
I was intrigued by the tag-line of this book, "stories of real-life men and women simply being the church." What does it mean to simply be the church?
This book lays out how I have always believed that "church" should be. What is described within these covers is a vibrant, living, breathing, house church movement that is making an impact in local neighborhoods.
The author tells the stories of many men and women involved in the simple task of starting house churches and weaves in the biblical principles and teachings of God's Word as she tells those stories. It is amazing to see how God is at work and how He uses everyday men and women like you and me to accomplish His purposes.
If you are looking for inspiration in your walk with Jesus Christ or you are simply looking for something more than your Sunday morning church experience, then I suggest that you check out this book.
Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for the purposes of conducting this review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Posted May 9, 2010
An Army of Ordinary People
BY: Felicity Dale
PUBLISHED BY: Barna
PUBLISHED IN: 2010
Reviewed by Billy Burgess
"An Army of Ordinary People" is an inspirational novel aimed at believers and nonbelievers. This is a collection of true stories about everyday people who practice "simple church" in their lives, homes, neighborhoods and workplaces.
A church is not to be referred to as a building, but is meant for you to share your faith with others. Simple men and women have started their own churches in their homes, coffee shops, colleges, hospitals, retirement homes and even prisons. Some have even started dozens of churches at one time.
I was hesitant about reading this book, afraid that it would preach too much. After reading the first story, that all changed. There was no preaching in it. The stories are heartwarming and inspirational. You don't have to have a degree in theology or religion to start your own church. All you need is your faith in God.
Note: I would like to thank Tyndale House for sending me this complimentary copy.