We LOVE this helpful post by Bryan Barley from the SendNetwork last week. Don’t miss it.
Charles Spurgeon said, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor.” Thankfully, with the rise of the missional movement, more Christians have accepted this call to live on mission in whatever community God has placed them. But, how do we engage the sphere of influence God has entrusted us with most effectively? Here are ten practical ways to live on mission in your community:
We begin with the acknowledgement that we are absolutely dependent on God to move if we’re going to make any real impact in our community.
Our effectiveness will be severely limited if we don’t authentically love the people we’re trying to reach. Do I actually love this community and the people that compose it? Do I see them as God sees them?
3. SCHEDULE MARGIN
It’s easy to be so regimented in our schedule that we don’t have time for the glorious inefficiency of a life on mission. Do we have enough margin in our schedule to allow for unexpected relationships and extended conversations?
4. DISCOVER WHERE PEOPLE ALREADY GATHER
We don’t have to reinvent the wheel—someone in our community is already gathering people together for some purpose. Maybe it’s a running club, neighborhood watch meeting or kids story time at the library. Find where people are already getting together and be there.
5. DO WHAT YOU LOVE WITH OTHERS
God has gifted us with unique gifts and abilities, and there are people in our community who share these passions. As we explore how our hobbies can be done alongside others in our community, we’ll find that we already have a greater level of credibility and kinship with those whom we share these similarities.
6. ASK GOOD QUESTIONS
As we connect with people, we want to ask good questions that express our genuine interest in the lives of others. In most conversations, people have to fight to get in a word about themselves. When we carry a posture of servanthood in a conversation by asking good questions, we’re being countercultural and expressing our desire to authentically know another.
People have a boss that will talk at them or a spouse who will criticize them, but few have people who will actually listen to them. As we ask good questions, we want to listen well so we can accumulate information of how the gospel can uniquely speak into someone’s hopes, fears and life stage.
8. SHARE YOUR STORY
While people might initially resist the firm truth claims of the gospel, I’ve yet to meet anyone who isn’t intrigued by how the gospel has shaped your life story. Know how to authentically, winsomely share how Jesus has blessed you and shaped who you are, and be ready to share that story as these people ask you really good questions in return.
9. INVITE INTO COMMUNITY
Because we’re created in the image of a Triune God, we were created and long for community. However, most people don’t feel close to others relationally, even though they might live close to others in proximity. Inviting someone into your church community—where people can taste the goodness of life amongst the people of God—is an incredibly powerful tool for mission. Throw parties, celebrate holidays, watch football and create a culture where the “outsider” is welcome.
10. SHARE THE GOSPEL
Too often the missional movement has been prone to drift towards being really effective at developing friendships with non-Christians without being honest about the ultimate hope of the friendship—to see this person reconciled to God through the work of Jesus Christ. It can be scary to think about altering the dynamic of a friendship, but Christians are often way more scared to talk about the gospel than non-Christians. The gospel is intrinsically powerful—unleash it from its cage and see what happens. Be bold, and be amazed at the way lives are changed.
Living on mission is a difficult, glorious mess, but when we take practical steps of faith to live on mission for Jesus, his assuring words from the Great Commission become more precious and real than ever: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
Published August 17, 2015