The Promise of Planting with Prevenient Grace

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Pastor Matt Johnson of The Community was asked to start a new church for those in his Northern Kentucky region who haven’t had one.  This meant he was starting with a church of one family, his.  As a new church planter he could have started from a position of great fear and trepedation looking at what he was starting with and the task ahead.  What was it that helped him to see hope in that place? Matt, at least partially, credits prevenient grace.

I think we have to emphasize prevenient grace because it gives us a couple of ideas. One, it tells people that God has been seeking them since they were born so it means that people are important to God so when we tell that to people it’s pretty transformational for them to realize that God has been pursuing them, wooing them and trying to develop a relationship with them, so it makes that role of God’s pursuit of people even more meaningful especially for people who have never heard that message before, so it really just encompasses a message of God’s grace that seeks people out.

I think for a church planter it’s crucial because it teaches us that we’re not in this alone so it helps us realize that it’s God who’s already doing the work so these people, I use the phrase the people that we like and God loves, and so as we begin to develop an affinity with people and connect with people, it helps us realize that God is the one who’s pursuing, God is the one who is working, we’re simply just joining in God’s work.

Prevenient grace gives us kind of this basis to stand on to say I’m not doing this by myself, I’m not just going out and doing something crazy, instead I am engaging in the work of peoples lives that God is already doing.

I don’t know how you can plant a church without understanding prevenient grace, understanding that God has gone before and God continues to go before and that God loves people more than we do and God is seeking them out. I just think that’s crucial. – Matt Johnson

Matt has seen this proven true in his work among the people in his region. One particulary moving example was telling the story of meeting a woman and talking with her about faith. She had spent some time in churches years before, but had been hurt and didn’t feel she could return. Matt asked her, as they entered intimate conversation, if she would give Jesus another chance; she was overcome with emotion as she assented. God had clearly been at work in her life and used Matt in this time to reach out to her.

Share how prevenient grace is important in your life or ministry in the comments below.

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John Wesley Leek serves the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church as a Commissioned Elder. He is appointed as associate pastor to Natchez, Misssissippi’s Jefferson Street United Methodist Church. Jesus wrecked his life and he likes it. He probably likes you.

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