In no particular order:
- An extended run in the harvest was a great way to see the immensity of the task. I remember specifically walking alone through a neighborhood in my own city (a small one of just 33,000) and it just became so clear, this task is too immense. We have to raise up leaders, we have to train others to join us. Of course I knew that in theory, but I needed to feel it in reality. It only took about 7 days in the Harvest for this reality to start setting in. It was more effective than anything else in driving me to prayer.
- Similarly, at one point I was scrambling to various follow up appointments (usually Discovery Bible Studies for Yellow Lights) and the reality hit me that simple, reproducible tools are so needed. It doesn't work to have a random list of things and guessing at what might be effective. You need a few simple tools and you need to work them consistently.
- The sheer amount of brokenness can really hit you when you spend extended time in the harvest. I could share story after story of hurting people, some from their own sins and often from others. Brokenness seems to compound pretty quickly. The urgency of the task (as if hell wasn't enough) hits you: People's lives are falling apart and we have hope for this life and for eternity. Again, I knew it in theory, now I know it in reality.
- A sad sidebar: Brokenness can keep spiritually interested from taking further steps. Satan is using drug and alcohol use along with homelessness to keep people from taking steps of faith.
- This stands out from one of my last harvest times - 2 people within a block of my house had never heard the Gospel. This is in a county that is (allegedly) 25% evangelical. How is that possible? We've abdicated our responsibility to bring the Gospel to the lost.
- Through my time in the harvest I also quickly learned what works in bringing the Gospel into conversations. I had to tweak my 'near/far' question to be ready to further the conversation when someone says they are near to God. Ironically with so much brokenness, most people will claim a nearness to God if they said a prayer in the last week. I've learned to use that claimed nearness as a launching point to get to the Gospel.
- Time in the harvest is a great filter for laborers. If someone is willing to join you at a random place to share the Gospel with strangers, they are legit. They will have already been thinking of their own friends and family that they need to share the Gospel with.
- It's also a great place to build Jesus-centered friendships. I could name 3 guys who I didn't know before this began that I am good friends with now. And they are friendships centered on making disciples and sharing the Gospel. Teammates also make harvest times easier!
- Previous to this harvest run, I was ambivalent and mostly scared of going door to door on a house of peace search. It wasn't that I disagreed with it in theory (again, the theories abound when you haven't done it) but I hadn't really practiced it. Now, I've seen how going door to door looking for a house of peace can both bring a house of peace AND effectively M.A.W.L. leaders.
- There is a ton of value in tracking the harvest. We don't do it to wear as a badge of pride, but we need to celebrate what God is doing and need to learn from patterns and trends we find.
In case you missed them, here are a few of my favorite days/stories:
Lastly, what about you? If you're unsure of your next steps in pursuing the lost and a #NoPlaceLeft vision, then I would STRONGLY recommend you schedule a run of days in the harvest. I don't think you need to get to 40 (I only got to 33), but a minimum of 10 will help you learn lessons and clarify vision quickly. If you want to chat more about what this looks like practically or want some coaching in it, please contact me or another #NPL laborer.
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