Christianity 201

November 4, 2020

What Christians Mean by the Term, “Person of Peace”

Whereas the term “seeker” has been associated with the church growth movement in North America in particular, “person of peace” has lodged itself into the lexicon of modern missions. – Alex Kocman (linked below)

This phrase, “person of peace” comes up three times here at C201, all of which are in 2013 and 2014; we haven’t touched on this lately. The phrase is often used when someone is going into a community where they don’t know the people — i.e. exercising the gift of apostle — and are looking to build partnerships necessary to commence ministry.

(This raises many other issues: Were they called by someone there to give aid? Does God already have people on the ground doing similar types of ministry? Do they need a partner relationship because they weren’t sent out in twos as Jesus did? These are important questions, but we’ll grant some grace here as to their motivation and methods.)

The phrase is taken from Jesus instructions to his disciples in Luke 10:4-6:

“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.

and the parallel passage in Matthew 10:11-13

Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.

Even within your own city or town, when entering a micro-community that is not your own, you do well to consider the “person of peace” concept.

At the website called (deep breath) Pursuing Disciple-Making Movements in the Frontiers, C. Anderson begins with this important principle:

The Person Of Peace Isn’t Always Who You Think They Will Be

The article continues…

1. A Person of Peace welcomes both you and your message.

…They may enjoy your company and extend hospitality. They may even be an influencer in the community. Be careful of investing lots of time in someone who doesn’t show interest in and acceptance of the gospel. Keep looking for those who after hearing the message, receive it with joy. Watch for those who immediately begin to invite others to hear the story of Jesus…

2. Abundant seed sowing leads you to the Person of Peace.

…Teams are sometimes discouraged when they haven’t yet found the Person of Peace. They have been praying and making relationships in the community. Key leaders have befriended them and they’ve started community development projects. Children’s ministries and programs have begun.

“Why can’t we find a Person of Peace?” they say.

The answer is clear to me. They simply don’t do enough “seed sowing.” They are not “casting the net wide” when it comes to broad evangelism efforts…

3. Be open to the unexpected.

…In the story of the Woman at the Well, found in John 4, the Person of Peace was not who we would have expected.  Jesus shared the truth with an immoral woman. She received His message and called the whole town to come and listen.

We often think the Person of Peace will be a community leader or person who is well-respected. Sometimes they are. Sometimes not.

Invest time in relationships with those who are key influencers in the community. You certainly want to share the gospel with them! But don’t think they are the only possible people who God could use to unlock the doors of hearts and lives

At the website of AEWB International, Alex Kocman looks into this in greater detail. This is an article I highly recommend for those of you who want to go deeper on this subject.

…It is true that everyone we meet is on a “spiritual journey.” Everyone, eternally speaking, is going somewhere. We are either plodding onward toward eternal life or careening toward Hell (cf. Heb. 9:27).

But conversely, I fear that our marketing-based evangelistic lingo reveals a less-than-biblical theology. At times, our soft evangelistic language of our ads and tracts makes it unclear whether we are inviting unbelievers to attend Bible studies or a timeshare presentation. Statements like “everyone is on a spiritual journey” raise challenging missiological questions. In what sense can someone be a “seeker”? Do unbelievers engage in honest inquiry in search of spiritual truth—or, better yet, can they?

In North America, these questions are complicated for by the seeker-sensitive, church growth, and attractional movements. There are certainly truths contained inside of each of the ministry philosophies represented by these movements; churches should be hospitable to unbelievers who visit their gatherings (1 Cor. 14:24), healthy churches should pursue evangelistic growth (Acts 2:41), and a Christ-exalting church is the most attractive gathering in the cosmos (Eph. 3:10).

The implications extend beyond North America as well when we discuss the concept and strategy related to “persons of peace” (cf. Luke 10:6). According to David and Paul Watson, “Persons of Peace have three primary characteristics: They are open to a relationship with you. They hunger for spiritual answers for their deepest questions. And they will share whatever they learn with others.” We must critically ask: do we go out on the mission field to engage honest inquiry, hostile unbelief, or both?…

The reference to the Watsons that Alex mentioned is the same authors from whom a book excerpt formed the basis of our own article on this subject in 2014.

At a 2011 article, Ben Sternke writes,

…A Person of Peace is simply someone that God has prepared ahead of time to hear the message of the gospel through you. We recognize Persons of Peace as those who welcome us, like to be with us, and attempt to serve us in some way.

Which is all fine and good in theory, but as we’ve been working with people on this, we’ve noticed what we think is a key element to recognizing a person of peace, without which we will remain blind to what God is doing around us.

The key we’ve stumbled upon seems obvious in hindsight, but it has been important for us to articulate it. The specific key we’ve discovered to recognizing Persons of Peace is basically this: the willingness to risk meeting “Persons of Unpeace.”

When Jesus sent them out he told them that they would experience welcome and rejection…

(In the article mentioned in Ben’s first paragraph here, he sees Zacchaeus as an example of Jesus finding just such a person.)

Finally, at our other article on this subject in 2014, we quoted from a piece which turned up on several sites, but we were unable to trace its origins:

6 Marks of a Person of Peace

…A person of peace will be one who

  • welcomes you
  • receives you
  • is open to you
  • will be open to what you have to say about Jesus
  • is open to the life you live because of Jesus
  • serves you

A person of peace could be a passing relationship. Sometimes a person of peace is a permanent relationship. But the real question is, “Who are your people of peace?”