Q. I would be really interested on any research or any more details on the PoP particularly in Urban vs Rural contexts. We are in _______ now, although we are preparing for __________ to be in a more rural context (actually a bigger town in the region, but it is probably like 5,000-10,000 people). I have found it difficult to talk to anyone on the street for any length of time, but there is a carpooling service that immediately guarantees a more drawn out conversation. I would DEFINITELY see as the easiest way to get to know locals who you would otherwise never have the occasion of meeting and talking with.
Every time I talk to anyone about how they find People of Peace (PoPs), or any kind of seekers, the “pool” they fish in is almost always different, and the tactics used to discover them are almost always different.
I don’t always agree with the folks at The Upstream Collective, but I have to say their book Tradecraft is excellent when it comes to some of these basic skills. I’m not saying I agree 100% with everything in it, but there’s a lot to learn from it. Tradecraft’s chapter on People of Peace says there are three basic marks: receptivity, reputation, and the ability/willingness to pass the Gospel into their social networks via referral. These seem to be three good things to keep in mind and “search for.” Where might you find people that exhibit these three features (and the reputation doesn’t necessarily have to be “good”–it could be a “bad” person who has been markedly turned around, as in the case of the demoniac Jesus healed).
Keeping in mind what a Person of Peace is can inform the tactics we use for search. But just as searching for something on the Internet can take lots of tries and lots of keywords and lots of failures, so searching for a Person of Peace can be different in different contexts. In terms of figuring out tactics for search, I highly recommend The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Yes, this is a book about technology startups–but there are many parallels between startups and pioneer church planting. The idea of the “Minimum Viable Product” (in your case, an MVP would be a “pool” to “fish” in and a method for “fishing”) and the Build-Measure-Learn loop would be very useful to anyone who’s trying to rapidly test ways to find People of Peace.
With regards to organizing and tracking “search experiments,” I suggest both the Mini Guide to the Experiment Loop (PDF, downloadable) and The Lean Experiments Dashboard at the Lean Brand book website (and the Lean Brand book as well). I have found this approach very useful in rapidly designing testable experiments.
The point I’m making: unfortunately, there’s no “silver bullet”–a method for finding People of Peace that always works. It’s an area where you must try to “fail fast” – try out lots of different things to figure out what doesn’t work, and by process of elimination figure out what does. In order to “fail your way to success,” you must avoid the error of repeating failed experiments. This requires experiment design, testing, and tracking. These tools I’ve linked are very easy ways to do that (I use them myself with other related experiments in communication, for example).
If you’re interested in being part of a CPM/DMM-focused training community that swaps resources, stories, case studies, tactics that have worked in some settings (and may in yours with some adaptation), and encouragement between various movements, email justinlong@gmail.com (and also see makedisciples.net).