What is No Place Left?
overview from Scripture: (Click here)
What is “No Place Left” (“NPL”)?
The apostle Paul, in Romans 15:18-24, writes to the church in Rome that he and his co-workers have “fully proclaimed” the gospel from “Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum” (v19). He concludes, “there is no more place for me to work in these regions” and asks for the disciples of Jesus in Rome to help him on his way to Spain (v23-24). Paul and his co-workers aimed to continue taking the gospel and kingdom of God to the gaps: “where Christ was not known” (v20).
Two observations are noteworthy with Paul’s statement in Romans. First, we know that Paul, by himself, did not “proclaim” the message of the Gospel to every person who lived in that geographic region, which encompassed a sizable portion of the Roman empire in the 1st century. Estimates indicate there were millions (link) of people who lived within these geographic bounds. Proclaiming the gospel to every one of those people would have been an impossible task for any single individual. Second, we have an in-depth record from Luke’s account of Paul and his co-workers’ labor in the book of Acts that coincide with letters Paul wrote during this same period: Galatians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and Romans. From this record, we know that Paul’s usage of the word “proclaim” indicated much more than simply presenting an explanation of the gospel to one person and then moving on. Instead, we see that Paul was able to say there was No Place Left within these regions for him to work because over an estimated 15-year period (Acts 13 to Acts 20) Paul, along with his co-workers, faithfully “proclaimed” the Gospel by 1) abiding in Christ as they entered into various cities led by the Spirit. 2) Upon entering a city, they would proclaim the message of the Gospel of Jesus along with performing signs and wonders that gave evidence to the message. 3) They would then make disciples of those who believed the message, immediately baptizing them, and gathering the new disciples for teaching on obedience to Christ’s commands. 4) These new gatherings of believers were identified as churches. These churches, meeting publicly and from home to home. 5) To help these new churches persevere in health and generational growth, Paul and his co-workers would call for the appointment of local leaders to shepherd the new disciples (or appoint elders themselves). Paul and His co-workers would then exit the location due to the Spirit’s leading to other work in other locations or as a result of persecution. Paul and his co-workers continued to stay in contact with these churches through letters sent through co-workers like Timothy, Titus, Silas, etc. This pattern of ministry and mission, as observed in the life of Paul and his co-workers is key to understanding what the No Place Left vision is and how we are laboring to see the accomplishment of that same kind of outcome.
By the time that Paul writes Romans 15:18-24*, he and his co-workers could confidently say “I fully proclaimed” the gospel throughout all the cities from “Jerusalem to Illyricum” because of the disciples they had made, churches they had formed, and leaders they had developed who were continuing the work of the Gospel throughout the regions surrounding every major city from Jerusalem to Illyricum. This holistic strategy or pattern of ministry over a 15-year period is what preceded Paul making such an audacious claim that there was “No Place Left” for them to work in those particular regions.
This No Place Left vision, however, is not confined to Paul. We clearly see this vision from Genesis to Revelation. This is God’s vision for mankind to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” with His image (Gen. 1:26-28). This is God’s vision to see that His “blessing” through the seed of Abraham extends to “All the nations” (Gen. 12:3; Gal. 3:16). This is God’s vision in Christ that His gospel would be proclaimed “throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt 24:14). This is God’s vision that we would be His witnesses empowered by His Spirit from “Jerusalem” to the “ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). This is God’s vision, who will one day reap a harvest from every “nation, tribe, people, language” to dwell with Him in a restored creation at Christ’s second coming (Revelation 5:9-10, 7:9-10). A No place left end-vision is the core of our Father’s heart for His Glory throughout all the world (Hab. 2:14).
Furthermore, it is our Father’s heart to work through the faithful obedience of every one of His children to accomplish His No Place Left vision. Every follower of Christ, upon repentance and belief in Jesus, is made a new creation, ambassador for Christ, and empowered by His Spirit. We are immediately adopted into God’s kingdom family as priests who must proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness and into the light. We immediately begin the lifelong journey as disciples who are called to grow in Christ as we go to make more disciples of Christ. We are baptized and commanded to baptize. We are taught to obey the commands of Christ and commanded to teach others to obey the commands of Christ. Jesus, through His Spirit, is with us until the end of the age, as He is with every Jesus follower we disciple. As disciples, we regularly gather as churches from our local neighborhoods to the nations. Individually as disciples and collectively as churches, we must faithfully pursue Jesus and His vision for No Place Left until the mission is complete (or until he takes us home). We must love God, love people, and make disciples of Jesus until there is literally no place or people left on God’s earth. Every single man, woman, and child must be given an opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel of grace as we eagerly await Jesus’ return.
The below tables are further articulation of what the No Place Left vision is (expanding upon the previous summary), how we practice pursuit of this vision, and how we relate to one another as we pursue the No Place Left vision.
* Paul wrote Romans during a 3 month stay in Achaia at the end of his third missionary journey [Acts 20:1-3]; the letter was carried to Rome by Phoebe, a deacon from a church in Cenchreae [Rom. 16:1-2]
We agree the No Place Left vision is:
The Father’s Heart
Compelled by the Father’s heart for His Kingdom to come and will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. As the Lord of the harvest, He desires to reap a harvest among all peoples on earth. We, along with every Jesus follower, are sent to labor in His harvest. Therefore, we faithfully labor to expand His kingdom among every people and place as we anticipate Jesus' second coming to bring judgment and restoration to all things. (Matt. 6:9-10, 9:35-38, 13:39, 24:14; Luke 10:1-2; 2 Peter 3:7-13; Rev. 14:15)
Christ centered (word, Spirit & Mission)
We are Christ-centered, being reliant on His word as recorded in the Scriptures (John 15:1-16; 2 Tim. 3:16-17), empowered by His Spirit (John 14:23-26), and committed to His mission, bearing witness to all nations. (Luke 24:46-49; Acts 20:24)
The Great Commission
We carry forth Christ’s kingdom by following Jesus - both His word and His ways - as we obey His Great Commission. We believe the ultimate model for obedience to Jesus’ great commission is fully embodied in the pattern of ministry as shown by Jesus and His disciples in the New Testament. We desire local ownership of this core pattern of Jesus' Kingdom work* among the people and places where a church foundation exists and where one does not exist. (Matthew 28:18-20; 24:14; John 12:24; Acts 13:2, 14:26; Rom. 15:18-24; 1 Cor. 3:6-9; *see practice section about core pattern of Jesus' kingdom work)
Global in scope
We acknowledge the global scope of God’s vision, and desire His Kingdom to be expanded throughout all the earth until He decides there is no person or place left. With this scope in mind, we intentionally target the “gaps” where the gospel does not have a sustainable presence of local disciples and churches. We trust God’s sovereignty and timing in the completion of His mission and the second coming of Christ; so we simply and faithfully obey His mandates until the Father decides His vision is complete on the earth. In pursuit of seeing His vision for No Place Left complete, we foster interdependent partnerships in mission between autonomous churches and apostolic teams locally and across the globe. (Matthew 24:14, 36; Acts 1:8; 2 Peter 3:9; Rom. 15:18-23; Phil. 1:5)
Local in Stewardship
We celebrate locally stewarded faithfulness to Jesus and fruitful multiplication of disciples and autonomous churches. We encourage local disciples and churches to have limited dependency upon outside leaders. If we are considered an outsider (different language & culture) to a people who we are discipling, then we seek to raise up local leaders from within this people group (same language and culture) who will lead their people into faithfulness to Jesus and fruitful multiplication. We believe seeing 4th generation multiplication is one indicator of a sustainable and locally stewarded presence of the Kingdom among the lost. (Gen. 1:26-28; Matt. 13:31-33, 28:18-20; Acts 6:7; 14:21-23; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; 2 Tim. 2:2)
We practice and pursue God’s No Place Left vision through commitment to the following:
We make every effort to walk in the humility of Christ as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling. When pride is found in our hearts, we repent and humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. In humility we strive to live by His grace, honor one another in love, and continue as lifelong learners of the Word, works, and ways of Jesus and His kingdom (Phil. 2:3-13, James 4:6-10; Rom. 12:9-11; Mk 1:15). Discipleship is messy, and conflict is inevitable within God’s kingdom family throughout NPL. Because Christ commands quick reconciliation (Matt 5:23-25), forgiveness (Matt 6:12), and a clear process for achieving restoration through humble repentance (Matt 18), we strive for the oneness He desires of His Body that the world would believe the Father sent Him (John 17:20-21).
Because we believe the Lord has all sovereign authority in heaven and on earth, we make every effort to pray and abide in Christ without ceasing. We value private and corporate abiding, prayer, and fasting. We pray for laborers while practicing as laborers ourselves. (Matt. 6:5-10; Luke 10:2; Acts 4:23-31; John 15; 1 Thess. 5:16)
We are motivated by the compassion of Christ for the lost, and the promise that there will be a fulfillment of Revelation 5:9-10 and 7:9-10. So, we work urgently with our eyes fixed on Jesus and the day of His Revelation—Our Lord has not yet come, so there is still work to do. (Matt. 24-25; Heb.10:24-25; 1 Pet. 1:13; 2 Pet. 3:3-13)
New Testament Pattern
Being rooted in God's Word and empowered by His Spirit, we follow Jesus and the core pattern of His Kingdom work as recorded in the gospels. This core pattern of Jesus’ Kingdom work is clearly shown to be reproduced by His disciples as recorded in Acts and the epistles. Therefore, while abiding in Christ:
1) We intentionally engage people with love, grace, and truth (Entry).
2) We proclaim the Gospel and repentance for the forgiveness of sin (Gospel).
3) We make disciples by baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching new disciples to obey all Jesus commanded...including the command to make disciples (Discipleship).
4) We intentionally form and gather together as churches that practice all functions of a New Testament local church (Church Formation).
5) Finally, we do all these - Entry, Gospel, Discipleship, Church formation - in a simple, biblical, reproducing way to identify and develop leaders who may repeat this core pattern of Jesus’ Kingdom work (Leadership Development).
Over the last 2000 years, God has used ordinary disciples who follow Jesus and His core pattern of Kingdom work to multiply and saturate entire areas and people groups with the Gospel. We labor with this same desire, to see the multiplication of God's kingdom saturate all the earth. (2 Tim 3:16-17; John 14:26, 15:1-17; Acts 13:1-4, 14:23-29; 2 Tim. 2:1-2; 1 Cor. 11:1)
We intentionally disciple believers to love God, love people, and make disciples in obedience to Jesus. We rely completely on God's Word, Spirit, and healthy church community to produce fruit and maturity in every disciple. We disciple at the pace of the Holy Spirit's work in each disciple's life knowing that loving obedience is the mark of health, not simply finishing a certain set of lessons or curriculum. We disciple by teaching others to meditate on and discuss the scriptures with the desire that they obey what they hear the Spirit of God say through his word. We disciple with the firm belief that every Jesus follower, upon repentance and faith in Jesus, is immediately adopted into God’s kingdom family, made a new creation, ambassador, and priest in the Kingdom of God with full authority to obey all Christ's commands. We disciple with the intention to help every disciple feel confident, competent, and committed to follow Jesus and multiply Jesus’ kingdom into the lives of others. We disciple by stewarding and guiding others in the short term, long term, or however long God allows us to be with them. (Matt 22:37-40, 28:18-20; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; John 14:26; 15:16-17; 1 Thess 2:8; 2 Cor. 5:17-21; 1 Peter 2:9; Rev. 5:10; Luke 6:40; Acts 11:19-21; John 17:6, 20-21).
We relate to one another as we pursue No Place Left in the following ways:
As we pursue No Place Left, we relate to one another as family; as brothers and sisters in Christ in God’s kingdom family. For some NPL is family. This usage of family language is not meant to be interpreted as NPL being some type of “sect” or “faction” that demands some greater commitment to NPL above other brothers and sisters in Christ who are not a part NPL. Those who see NPL as family are simply celebrating and enjoying the reality that upon meeting others who are pursuing NPL across the globe, there is an immediate camaraderie because of the pursuit of a common vision through common practices. For others, NPL is seen simply as a global community of practice who network and work toward the common vision of No Place Left. Both views of NPL as family and as a community of practice are celebrated. With this in mind, (1) NPL is "open-membership" - any disciple of Jesus aspiring to His vision, submitted to His Word, Spirit and priesthood of believers may volunteer freely (Psalm 110:3). (2) We are "open-source" - Freely we were given these Biblical principles from the doctrine and practice of Jesus, His Disciples, and the first churches as recorded in the New Testament. So freely we give away all training, tools, resources and expertise helping others to practice these principles today (Matt 10:7-8; 1 Cor 4:7). (3) We are "open-handed" in our interactions (Prov. 11:24-25).
No place left is not an organization with associated hierarchies or defined leadership structures. Leaders are serving in various volunteer capacities throughout NPL. These leaders have grown into influence through faithfully serving others and bearing fruit. Whether aspiring to lead within the plurality of elders in a local church, lead by serving on an apostolic team, or lead by serving as an example to the priesthood of all believers, leaders throughout NPL are equal at the foot of the cross and lead by serving. These leaders do not hold special positions, nor do they have specified titles; nor are leaders identified by academic degrees or denominational accolades. We each voluntarily submit to the leadership of others who have proven faithful to God, effective for His Kingdom, and committed to His Vision (Acts 21:1-38). Leaders throughout No Place Left extend spiritual authority, they do not extract it or use authority to dominate others. (Matt 20:25-28; Acts 15; Acts 20; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Tim. 3; 1 Peter 5:1-6)
Not a Funding Base or Conduit
Laborers throughout NPL pursue funding in a variety of ways and mechanisms, but No Place Left is not a funding conduit itself. In other words, there is no way to "give" to "No Place Left." If you desire to make gifts or contributions to individuals who are pursuing NPL, please reach out to these individuals personally. (Matthew 10:5-8)
NPL is not defined by any single denomination, organization, regional initiative, or venture bearing the name "No Place Left."; these may simply be manifestations of NPL in its various forms. NPL is not restricted by or in direct affiliation with any one church, denomination or organization. To make it simple, if you believe that: 1) The Bible is God’s inspired word as recorded in the 66 books of canonized scripture; 2) you believe that Jesus is the Son of God who came in the flesh, died, rose three days later and is coming again; 3) you believe that there is salvation by repentance and faith in no other name than Jesus, then we welcome you to labor alongside NPL in any capacity toward the completion of God’s mission to take his Gospel to all people in all places. (Luke 9:50; John 17:20-21; 1st Cor. 15:1-5; 1 John 4:2-3; Acts 4:12; Eph. 2:8-10; 2 Tim. 3:16-17)
Across NPL, we attempt to maintain regular rhythms of communication. Without “communication” we would not have the New Testament. The writer of Hebrews encourages believers to not neglect to meet together as some are in the habit of doing, but to gather and encourage one another to love and good deeds all the more as the day of Christ is drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25). NPL regularly communicates its vision on a broad or global level online through the website, email, social media, and any other helpful avenues. Regular communication on a local level is determined by the local disciples and churches in that area. The main point here is that we must regularly gather and communicate in every way possible to spur one another on to love and good deeds all as the day of Christ approaches. If you have questions on this, click “get connected” on the website: www.noplaceleft.net
VISION - We agree the No Place Left vision is:
Compelled by the Father’s Heart and Will for His Glory
Christ-Centered in our reliance on the Word and the Spirit, with a focus on God’s mission
Carried forward through following Jesus - both His word and His ways - as we obey His great commission
Completed globally when the Father has determined that all nations have had an opportunity to hear and respond to the testimony of the gospel, and Jesus returns
Celebrating the evidence of locally stewarded faithfulness to Jesus and fruitful multiplication of disciples and autonomous churches
PRACTICE - We practice and pursue God’s No Place Left vision through commitment to the following:
Commitment to Humility
Commitment to Prayer
Commitment to Urgency
Commitment to follow the person and pattern of Christ and His disciples as recorded in the whole New Testament
Commitment to Discipleship
RELATIONSHIP - We relate to one another as we pursue No Place Left in the following ways:
We relate to one another as family; as brothers and sisters in Christ and as God’s kingdom family
We relate to one another through decentralized leadership.
We relate to one another generously from disciple to disciple and church to church. However, we do not see “No Place Left” as an organization, funding base, or conduit to distribute funding.
We relate to one another from a variety of local church, denominational and/or organizational sources and perspectives.
We relate to one another through regular in-person and/or online communication.
History of this statement
"Who We Are" was originally written in 2016. The original statement was composed by Steve Smith after an SC (Strategy Coordinator) Training in South Florida. There were many of leaders who shared their thoughts while Steve simply articulated the thoughts out in a coherent statement. The original statement (page 1) written by Steve Smith can be found here: (click here)...you may also notice on this document the amendments on page 2, which were added In 2017. If you would like to watch this training from 2016, a youtube playlist can be found here: (click here)
In 2017, after the promoting of Jeff Sundell and Chuck Wood, the original statement had 5 amendments added on a second page. The process was done through emailing remarks back and forth over a time period of about a month. Those who helped amend the statement in 2017 are the following:
Troy & Rachel Cooper; Jeff & Angie Sundell; Chuck & Deb Wood; Daniel Solid; Daniel Reese; Garret Lawrence; Nathan & Kari Shank; Fred & Melissa Campbell; Steve & Laura Smith; Zach Medlock; Ron Surgeon; Ryan Alberson; Ray & Sara Vaughn; David & Ann Miller; Carter & Hannah Cox
In July of 2022, a host of people from across the No PLace Left global family gathered for a 4 day collaborative summit. At the end of the summit a motion was proposed to initiate topical workshops to address the needs across NPL. Daniel Solid along with Carter Cox volunteered to orchestrate this effort. One of the workshops proposed was an overhaul of the original "Who Is No Place Left" statement.
An anonymous form was sent out through Facebook, Email, and other form of communication that networked the global family together. On the form were the suggested topics, and a place where anyone could volunteer any name of any person associated with No Place Left to assist In the topical workshops. The following names were anonymously volunteered for the first workshop wherein the "Who Is No Place Left" statement would be modified to more clearly reflect the "vision, practice and relational structure" of No Place Left:
Anthony "Tony" Vail
Chuck & Deb Wood
Jesse & Shanee Snodgrass
Joey & June Gordy
Justin & Rachel White
Kyle & Amy Peirson
Matt & Cassie Foshee
Nathan & Kari Shank
Ray & Sarah Vaughn
Rick & Jenny Preato
Ryand & Lexi Swedberg
Troy & Rachel Cooper
Over the course of several months, various levels of contributions were given to bring revision and clarity to the original statement. Carter Cox, with the assistance of Daniel and Cathrine Solid, Peter Lindell, Will Smith, and others put pen to paper (or rather finger to keyboard) to articulate the statement above based upon the contributions of everyone who volunteered to help. The statement went through 4 draft phases and many emails back and forth. We do not presume this will be the final revision of the original statement. However we do believe that the statement In Its current state more clearly and biblically represents the vision of NPL, practices and relational ethos of this family of believers.
For any further questions on this process please feel free to contract us as www.noplaceleft.net