There was a time when an army setting off to war had to have complex lines of supply to refurbish food, fuel, ammunition, and medical supplies. With the great distances now covered in armed conflict another strategy is used. Fighting forces will pre-position assets in or near the location where they will be needed later. Instead of trucking in large quantities of fuel to fighting soldiers, helicopters will drop off giant bladders full of fuel for use by a fighting force that will arrive later. Without this pre-positioning an exercise would become significantly more complex, expensive, and perhaps impossible.
In like manner God has pre-positioned spiritual assets in the community in which you are planting. The Scripture is FULL of examples. David was a scruffy shepherd boy with no knowledge or experience in national leadership. But God pre-positioned Jonathan – who may have been thirty years his senior – who was a king’s son. Jonathan’s upbringing at the knee of Saul was used by God to eventually influence David for his future regal responsibilities. The apostles were pre-positioned under the ministry of John the Baptist so that when Jesus arrived they had a reasonably short learning curve. Timothy was trained in the Scripture before Paul met him. He had been pre-positioned for this role by God through his godly mother and grandmother.
I have seen this countless times in my own ministry. I planted a church in North Carolina and quickly landed a prime spot on a new Christian radio station. It was a daily fifteen minute program.
The church was about a year old when a couple visited. I’d never met them before and did not know their names. After worship the man came to me and introduced himself and asked if we were ever going to build our own facility (we were in a school). I answered that we were many years away from doing so. He asked if I could choose a location where it would be. I named a fast growing area about eight miles away. He said that he had just purchased 1,000 acres in that location and that he would like to have lunch with me that week. He was a developer and had plans for up to 800 homes on that land.
We met that week for lunch. He said he and his wife had been listening to me on the radio for the last three months to confirm the decision to donate fifteen acres of land to our church if we would move it to his property. He wanted a Bible believing, Christ honoring church there. Obviously we accepted, but then there was the problem of a new church building an expensive facility. We could never have gotten any kind of financing to do so. We needed about 1.5 million to put up a 10,000 sq. ft. building. He went to his own bank and arranged the financing and personally guaranteed the note so that we could build. A year later we had our first service in the new building with 451 people in attendance. By the way… when they first approached us, they explained that they were planning to move to a community ninety miles away from our city. They were never going to actually attend!
These folks were pre-positioned in that community decades before I got there. When we started that church we telephoned (www.tellstart.com) 17,000 homes and invited them to come to our new church. 119 families responded. When I called these responders back I asked if anyone in the home played an instrument or sang. Remember, we’re talking about pre-positioned assets. From that set of calls we got several keyboard players, a drummer, two guitars, a base, two violins, a banjo, a ukulele, a flute, a saxophone, and numerous singers. We had a full band for our first service. This talent was pre-positioned there by God before I arrived.
Most of you will plant in a community with the thought of doing evangelism; of winning the lost for Christ – a noble and Biblical purpose… Let me suggest that you begin with a dual purpose. Along with winning the lost, seek out God’s pre-positioned assets in the community. Leaders, givers, teachers, youth staff, organizers, musicians, servers, encouragers…
I hear your next question. Where do I find them? I can’t really answer that. All I can do is tell you they are there and you must find them. Start with getting out of your office and into the community. Pastors, especially young ones, spend too much time on their computers. Go to where people are. I recently began coaching a 5th and 6th grade boy’s lacrosse team. I played some in high school – FIFTY YEARS AGO! The kids don’t know whether to call me “coach” or “pop.” But everyone on the field will eventually know who the white haired guy is.
Your business cards should be falling from your pockets like Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs. You will never connect with God’s pre-positioned assets if they don’t know you’re there. The percentage of pre-positioned people joining your effort who do not know you exist will always be zero. Raising your community profile is not about ego. It’s about penetration that will connect you with those critical pre-positioned assets.