I recently reconnected with a former supporter and ministry partner from my early days of ministry. I shared with him what I’ve been up to lately with my network of house churches, ViaCordis, and described some of our work in the recovery field. I told them how it feels like God is really blessing our efforts to be the hands, feet and voice of Jesus and helping people becoming followers of Jesus. What it feels like we’re not doing such a great job with, I explained, is getting additional house churches started. We have discipling groups with lots of transformation, but not actual house churches.

As I told him more about the people we’re working with in transition centers, he said, “It seems like you’re dealing with a bunch of Peters.” He’s exactly right. Peter was the impulsive type: the one who wanted to cut off the guard’s ear, the one who wanted to step out of the boat to walk on water. Peters are enthusiastic, not always educated, leap-before-you-look and not always great about the follow through. Yet that’s the one to whom Jesus said, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matt 16:18). He took the least likely, the most erratic, but the most passionate—and that’s who Jesus chose to be the foundation of his church.

So what are the implications of this insight for my church? How did Jesus work with impetuous Peter? I’ve just begun thinking about this question, but here are a few of my thoughts so far. Jesus maintained focus. He had a vision of what Peter could be in the future—the amazing person he could become. He was patient even when Peter made mistakes or didn’t follow through… much more patient that I generally am. Jesus showed grace and forgiveness. He used experiential learning to help Peter understand ministry, capitalizing on life experiences to move forward. He treated Peter with dignity and respect, never disdain or condescension.

What do you think– are there some lessons for me moving forward? I think so….