by Matt Frazier-VisionUSA Field Team
We look to examine the Gatherer this month as we continue to learn about the three roles of the GSE Process (Gatherer, Shepherd, and Elder). The Gatherer is the one role that is not specifically named in the Bible. However, the concept saturates the New Testament. In fact, there are 20 Greek words that translate the idea of “gathering to a mission” and 155 of these instances refer specifically to gathering for Jesus’ mission. Gatherers are essential to church planting. We understand them to shape culture and create a movement of people to church. Let’s learn more about who Gatherers are and what they do.
Gatherers in Scripture
One of my favorite examples of a Gatherer is found in John 4. In this chapter, Jesus engages the Samaritan woman at the well. Through a conversation with Him, she not only comes to realize with whom she is speaking but she responds to the news by leaving her water pot and hurrying into town to inform others. Just a few verses later we learn that many Samaritans came to believe in Jesus because of her. She was excited to share her experience and gather others to Jesus as He and his disciples came into the city. Amazingly, this woman had no formal training or education, simply a heart to engage other people in her culture. Such Gatherers still exists today and have a profound impact on our churches. I know because I see and hear the stories within the VisionUSA network!
Gatherers in Florida
My wife and I planted a church at home in Florida and we quickly became connected with a couple of strong Gatherers. Billy and Ashley are married with two kids and are some of the most impactful Gatherers we have worked with. Neither of them spent a significant amount of time in the church growing up and only recently truly committed their lives to Jesus and His mission. It’s been a blessing to watch. Ashley consistently brings people from her work to our church. Billy engages his neighbors daily and is always sharing about our church plant and bringing neighborhood kids to our gathering. There is not a person either of them couldn’t engage and build a relationship with. They have built a culture of inviting others to our church, and we are happy to have them. We always count on new families engaging our church through Billy and Ashley. They are true Gatherers.
So, are Billy and Ashely an exception? Absolutely not. In fact, I am sure you can think of a few people or stories like the story above. Unfortunately, many of these Gatherers do not know they have a gift and are vital to the mission of Jesus.
Recognizing and Encouraging Gatherers
So how do we help them? VisionUSA continues to train churches and church planters to understand and use Gatherers. That is the hardest part, believe it or not. Because Gatherers naturally gather, they just keep doing more of it once the church encourages them to gather intentionally and resources them to do it well. Like Billy and Ashley, once Gatherers understand they have the freedom to gather to the mission of Jesus, things begin to change. Gatherers will continue to shape a culture of gathering and create movements of people to the church.
Who do you know that can begin gathering for your church today?
“He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters”
-Jesus (Matthew 12:30)
If you think you are a Gatherer or may know someone who is, take our free Gatherer assessment.