Intentionally Engaging a Person of Peace (PoP) Cross-Culturally

God-Prepared Bridges in Every Culture

Oikos Evangelism: A relational, trans-cultural way of reaching people. An oikos is one’s circle of influence composed of family, friends, community and co-workers. Taken from the Greek term oikos which means “household”. See the example of Cornelius ...

  • Acts 10:2 – Makes it clear that Cornelius was a spiritual influence on his household.
  • Acts 10:24 – Oikos included those he was responsible for: family and close friends.
  • Acts 10:27 – It was a large number of people.
  • Acts 11:14 – Makes it clear that this group of people was his household or oikos.

Oikos evangelism is God’s natural bridge for sharing His supernatural message. It focuses on relationships as the means of sharing the good news. In the basic model, non-believers see lives transformed which in turn backs up their testimony, and thus may be used to convince others to follow Christ.

People of Peace or Oikos Evangelism focuses on letting the good news spread through whatever form of relationships or networks exist within the culture and among the people.  Luke 10.1-20 provides marching orders for intentionally engaging people groups.

  • What are some key principles Jesus gave for going into a new culture?
  • What equipment was needed?
  • What price was to be paid?
  • What was the chief way of introducing the gospel into that community?
  • What was to happen if no person of peace was found or the gospel was rejected?

So, what is a person of peace? Or, how do we discover and recognize a person of peace? People of peace are ...

  • ... an entry point into a new culture / area.
  • ... willing to welcome gospel bearers.
  • ... connected with an extended network of relationships.
  • ... open to receiving the gospel.
  • ... people who have a sense of responsibility to share with their existing connection of relationships.

Often the person of peace is the first step in a household believing and becoming a very natural new church.

Possible Biblical Examples of People of Peace

  • Zaccheus – Luke 19
  • Levi/Matthew – Luke 5
  • Samaritan woman at the well – John 4
  • Lazarus, Mary and Martha – John 11-12
  • Ethiopian eunuch – Acts 8
  • Cornelius – Acts 10
  • Lydia – Acts 16
  • Philippian jailer – Acts 16
  • Jason – Acts 17
  • Priscilla and Aquila – Acts 18, Rom 16:3-5
  • Titius Justus and Crispus – Acts 18

Marks of a Person of Peace

  1. PEACEFUL & WELCOMING – “of peace” means characterized by a peaceful disposition as opposed to being antagonistic. This usually means the person welcomes new people and ideas, often because God has prepared the person ahead of time. Luke 10:10 – the idea of receiving gospel bearers. The person of peace often respects those sent by God. (Acts 10:25)

  2. REPUTATION – Acts 10:22 – respected by others, so the gospel spreads when he believes and recommends it with influence to others.

  3. WORTHY – Matt 10:11-13
    • There is something that marks the person of peace as a worthy individual in the community (v.11).
    • The person of peace's worthiness is seen in reputation and welcoming of strangers.
    • The person of peace's worthiness is also seen in if he or she is willing to pay the price to follow Christ – Matt 10:37-40, 13:44-46

  4. RIGHTEOUS/GOD-FEARING – Acts 10:1-2, 22 – Often he is already seeking God or at least asking penetrating questions to search for truth. He probably prays to God seeking answers. But a person of peace is not a Christian when you meet him!

  5. PREPARED – Acts 10:3-8 – The more you examine the person of peace's life, the more ways you will see that God has prepared him or her to receive the truth of the gospel.

  6. RECEPTIVE – Luke 10:8-10; Acts 10:33 – A Person of Peace not only welcomes the messenger, but also the message. The person of peace hears the testimony and it resounds in his heart.

  7. RESPONDS POSITIVELY – Acts 10:44-48 – Ultimately, when culturally understood, a person of peace WILL receive the gospel and believe. Not only that, he will believe in the context of his relationships, many of whom will also believe.

How to Find a Person of Peace

  1. INQUIRE – about who is worthy or upstanding or well-respected in the community (Mt 10:11).

  2. MAKE YOURSELF VULNERABLE & SEE WHO RECEIVES YOU – (Luke 10:3-8) As lambs sent among wolves, see who will take you in. You don’t discover this until you become dependent on them (“take no purse”).

  3. SEE WHO RESPONDS TO THE ‘SEEDS’ YOU PLANT – (Luke 10:8-11) Often by your sharing the things of God, both words and deeds, people of peace will be the ones who want to hear or see more, or who attest that what you have done is from God.
    • E.g. A church planter in India shares Bible stories when sitting around in teahouses. Those who want to hear more or ask thoughtful questions he continues to share with in private.
    • E.g. By taking steps of faith to pray for miracles or healing, when God acts people of peace will be those who attest that it is God’s hand at work.

  4. LOOK AT THE WEB OF RELATIONSHIPS IN A COMMUNITY AND FIND THE CENTER – By looking at relationships, find who it is that seems to know many others and care for their concerns.

  5. KNOW THAT GOD WILL PREPARE SOMEONE FOR YOU – (Luke 10:17) Apparently all 70 disciples found people of peace. God will divinely lead you to people of peace when you have eyes to see them and a desire to plant your life in them.

  6. SEE WHO IT IS THAT IS PREPARED TO STAKE ALL TO FOLLOW CHRIST – People of peace in the NT seem to uniformly respond whole-heartedly to Christ. They love Him more than family or possessions or status, once they’ve come to know Him. A PoP examines the demands of the cross and is willing to lay down his life.

How to Minister to a Person of Peace

  1. IN THE CONTEXT OF THEIR RELATIONSHIPS – You expect to share not just with them but their whole oikos. Often you may need to encourage them that it is okay for them to have their oikos present when you share the word with them. In this way, you birth a church not a convert.

  2. INVEST IN THEM, DON’T MOVE AROUND (Luke 10:7) – Once you find a person of peace, concentrate on them. Don’t spread your witness so thin that you don’t invest in them properly. Remember, they are 1) the key to a network of folks, 2) the avenue through which a new church will gain credibility in the community, and 3) probably the future pastors/leaders of the new church. It also gives them a true friend. Most people accept Christ because you have become their friend and they believe the credibility of your life.

  3. ACCEPT THEM AS THEY ARE (Luke 10:8 “eat what is set before you”) – You must come to them on their terms. Live with them, eat with them and don’t refuse anything they offer.

  4. LET THEM MINISTER TO YOU ALSO (Luke 10.7-8) – Let them care for your physical needs when the occasion arises. By letting them take responsibility for you, you allow them to reap a blessing and teach them the importance of taking responsibility as they begin to lead the new church.

  5. BRING BOTH THE WORD OF TESTIMONY AND THE POWER OF THE KINGDOM (Luke 10.9) – There should be verbal witness of course. But in Luke, healing of the sick comes first. In this way, after demonstrating the kingdom’s power and authenticity, you can then tell them the reason behind it (“the kingdom of God has come near”).

  6. WORK PRIVATELY IN THE CONTEXT OF THEIR HOME – (Luke 10.5) Most, if not all, examples we have of people of peace in the NT, as well as the instructions in Luke 10 and Matthew 10 are of the gospel bearers working with people of peace in private situations, usually a home. In this sense, the witness is private. It gives the PoP and his oikos a chance to hear the message and believe when they are ready. It gives them a chance to begin growing and plants patterns of house churches that are natural to the culture. It also lessens undue pressure from non-believers until the new believers have grown a bit. It helps them make the leap of faith when they are ready for it, and not before.

  7. HELP THEM COUNT THE COST BEFOREHAND – Jesus always made it clear to those who would follow him what it was going to cost. If you want the PoP and his oikos to really be strong, growing disciples and for the new church to be bold and not timid, they must understand what it will cost beforehand.

  8. GIVE THEM A VISION FOR CHURCH, NOT FOR CONVERSION – Giving the PoP a vision that goes beyond personal conversion, and includes the whole oikos as church appeals to his God-given desire to care for his household. Rather than scaring him off, it speaks to his heart. You should talk with him about what you envision him and his oikos becoming – even before they trust in Christ.