Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Walking Dogs is a Church Planting Opportunity!

Did Jesus ever walk a dog? The short answer is, "Probably not." Dogs are mentioned in the Bible a number of times. They apparently roamed around since dogs (probably wild ones) ate the body of Queen Jezebel outside the city wall of Jerusalem. Both Matthew and Mark write about dogs under the table. These dogs must have been family pets. Jesus says dogs licked the beggar named Lazarus' sores.

In Pittsburgh at A Restoration Church plant, dog walking is one way one person is building a bridge to Jesus. It's "out-of-the-box" thinking for sure, but it's an easy way to connect with people. Taking a dog to the park or a Saturday kids' soccer game is instant connection with other dog owners.

One person from A Restoration Church is walking two dogs (Timber and Tandy) almost daily for a friend who has cancer. Last night the two dogs were taking the "church lady" on their usual walk when another dog owner "happened" by. Since Timber is a large Siberian Husky/Alaskan Malamute (probably bigger than the lady and certainly heavier), the better part of wisdom seemed to be to let the other dog and owner pass. So the two and their lady waited. It was on a hilly street - in Pittsburgh there are more hilly streets than not! Just as the other dog came opposite, Timber lunged dragging both the other dog and the lady. The lady lost her balance when Timber and his leash went "air-borne." The lady slid some distance (like a "human dog sled") down the middle of the hilly street taking dignity, skin, dogs and glasses on a quick downhill collision course with asphalt.

By the time dogs, leashes and lady were sorted out and scraped off the pavement, there was an opportunity to talk to the other dog walker about Jesus. Sitting in the middle of the street surrounded by three dogs and a strange man isn't a traditional place to witness on any paradigm! But in the process of retrieving the dogs and picking her bloodied self up off the street with the stranger's assistance, a short conversation ensued. He was concerned so asked if she lived near-by, etc.

Church planting lessons learned from dog walking:
  • Be warned that church planting can be messy and even painful
  • Be alert for surprising opportunities
  • Be ready for those "God-moments" that pop up quite unexpectedly
  • Be willing to live "outside-the-box" to find Kingdom encounters

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