As Christians, we know we have good news to share with the world around us; that we can know God, and be reconciled to him through Christ Jesus. Here is the problem: many Christians in local churches experience a mystery. That mystery is that for some reason they get plugged in to a church they love and become sleepy Christians. They don't think of mission or how they can reach the world around them. Mission is just this strange thing that happened oversees in the 1950's with Jim Elliot and a few other guys. So they don't think about lost people or planting churches locally even though there are thousands of people around them who do not know Jesus. As we are planting a church we cannot get comfortable and sleepy. We must think like missionaries. We must think of how we can reach the world around us.
How can we start to think like missionaries?
1. ASK YOURSELF SOME QUESTIONS
Who are the people that live around me?
What do they do for fun? What do they do for entertainment?
What kind of music do they like?
What kind of jobs do they have--Blue collar or white collar?
Who lives in my neighborhood? What do they do around major holidays?
What activities do I see happening on the weekends?
What ethnic and cultural backgrounds do I see?
What language do the people I'm trying to reach speak?
2. LEARN TO SAY YES
About a week ago, my wife and I were hanging out with a couple from church. When a few Mormon missionaries knocked on the door, I was pleased to see what our host did. She invited them in, made room around the table, poured them a bowl of amazing soup and welcomed them into the party. And we all ate together. If you learn to say yes, you will be on the look-out and you will be sensitive to opportunities to share the love of Christ. This simple act of feeding these people gave the host an opportunity to share the gospel in the future. The Mormon missionaries were pretty blown away that they were welcomed with such grace. I know this because they said it. My guess is that they will be back for further discussion because of the kindness shown to them.
3. HANG OUT WITH PEOPLE LIKE YOU
One of the things that I do is to hang out with people like me right in the community that I live in, play in, and work in. I have a long history of wrestling in high school and college. When I have time, I like to go work out at an MMA school and get to know the people around me. My agenda is to get a good work out. But my life is about Jesus all the time. This means that anyone I hang out with is going to hear about Jesus at some point. I learn their names, pray for them, and when appropriate I've invited some to a church gathering. I've shared the gospel, baptized new believers and invited plenty into my life. You too have interests and talents that place you around people that I’d never see because I don’t have the street credit that you have. And you too can utilize those interests and talents for the glory of God when you just hang out with people like you. They are the easiest people for you to reach because you have common ground. Some of you guys surf. Don't surf alone. Instead, take someone with you. And take them to your favorite break. Some of you moms have young children. Get to know the other moms as you are out with the stroller walking with the kids. Some of you have a dog. When that couple says hello and comments how cute your dog is, take time to get to know them and just talk. Some of you love to run. Go for a run with others just like you.
4. TARGET A PEOPLE IN A LOCATION
I heard a great idea from a friend and coach of mine, Brian Howard, who talked about a great idea for a small group. In our context they are Branch Groups. Our groups meet for friendship, prayer, and bible study. However, if a group started thinking outward, I would be their greatest cheerleader. The group might decide that they want to intentionally reach a certain coffee shop. They might know that there are 20 employees there. So they decide to learn their names and whenever they drink coffee they make sure to have coffee at that particular coffee shop. They intentionally pray for those people. Who knows what God will do! I personally try to study at a couple different coffee shops every week and have met people and sometimes they end up coming to Branches.
Consider the neighborhood you are in as well. Since God is sovereign over the details of the universe, I think he has you where you are for his glorious mission of making him famous. Get to know the people on your street. Learn their names, and learn their kids’ names. Have a BBQ and share a meal. And just see what God will do in your neighborhood.
5 LOVE THE CITY YOU ARE IN
A lot of trust can be built with people when we are loving them and the place where they make their home. If we love the city we are in, then we are going to become more than just consumers of the city. We will care about what happens in the city and the issues of the city because there are people that inhabit that city. They care about their children, the school they go to, the places they eat, and how safe they feel or don't feel. If we love the city, we will learn to listen to what is happening in the city. And we will learn to partner with what God is already doing in the city. This April, we joined hundreds of people in an outreach event called “Love La Habra.” I think this was a great start for us to join in and listen to what our God is doing in the city.
So brothers and sisters I ask you to think like a missionary!