by author Tony Webb
Gathering – gathering people to Jesus’ mission.
Why have I not heard about gathering? What have I missed?
Jesus gathered in His ministry, He started early. John 1:35-51 shows us two examples of gathering from Jesus’ ministry. Gathering is when someone gathers another person to Jesus and His mission.
Jesus said is well: “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30 – NASB)
Jesus was walking by and John the Baptist told two of his disciples (John and Andrew), “Behold, the Lamb of God.” They follow Jesus. Andrew finds his brother Peter and he gathers him to Jesus. Jesus then headed north (John 1:43-51) and He gathers Philip to His mission who then Philip gathers Nathanael to Jesus’ mission. Pretty amazing!
The leper gathered so well (Mark 1:40ff) that Jesus could no longer go into the cities and towns, He had to meet people in the unpopulated areas. The Gadarene Demoniac desperately wanted to follow Jesus and gather for Him – but Jesus sent him away and he began gathering in Decapolis – a ten-city region in the SW region of the Sea of Galilee (Mark 5:18-20). The Samaritan Woman was an amazing gatherer (John 4). Matthew gathered well, Paul did too. Many did and many do today. Lydia gathered her family to Jesus – a profoundly powerful thing.
I believe that for two thousand years Jesus has been using gatherers to start new churches and grow already established ones. How do gatherers work? They do what is easy to them – they meet people easily and well. They are able to know when is the right time to bring Jesus into the conversation and they invite them to join them at their spiritual community – church.
Gatherers differ from evangelists in many ways. One prominent way is that gatherers are not tasked with necessarily sharing the entirety of the gospel with someone. What they do very well is inviting people to join them at church and allowing their church family to share Jesus more fully with the ones invited.
Gatherers are blessed and gifted of God to be key to start new churches and to help established churches grow. Why have I not heard about them or from them?
It is above my pay grade to know the answer to this, but what I do know is that gathering and gatherers are the fabric of the NT and we need to make sure we get “reacquainted” with the biblical idea of gathering.
Fourteen Greek words in the NT describe gathering to mission – 130+ times; 85+ times the words describe gathering to Jesus’ mission. May we recognize and release our gatherers – may they gather those who do not know Jesus to Jesus and spend all their time do that in Jesus’ name!
If you would like to read more on the NT emphasis on gathering, you can get both of Tony’s books on Amazon: