Our Life on Christ

Sunday, November 27, 2011

How to GO and Make Disciples: A Few Simple Ideas That Don't Involve a Church

For the last few months at church, we have been discussing how we can actually reach the people who God wants us to reach; how we can burst our nice, shiny “Christian” bubbles and be disciples.

God has called us to make disciples. Sometimes it seems that the call is too great. It is so easy to go to church, let the pastor preach, listen, then go home. Is that what God has asked of us? Not so much. I’m pretty sure in Matthew 28:16 Jesus did not say, “Therefore go and be good church attendees, make sure you wear the right outfit, say “hey, how you doing” to at least one person, and always be in attendance on Easter.” This may seem a little crazy but, here goes: God actually wants us to DO some things during this life.

I found a few sites that give a few easy examples of how to be what we call “missional.” It is basically just living a regular life but being intentional about it. The point is: it is more likely to turn people to God if you have a relationship with them. The below situations will help to foster relationships. If you are not a church-goer, that is cool--it is not a requirement.

These first eight ideas I got from Church Planting Novice blog.

1.    Eat with Non-Christians. We all eat three meals a day. Why not make a habit of sharing one of those meals with a non-Christian or with a family of non-Christians? Go to lunch with a co-worker, not by yourself. Invite the neighbors over for family dinner. If it’s too much work to cook a big dinner, just order pizza and put the focus on conversation. When you go out for a meal, invite a non-Christian friend. Or take your family to family-style restaurants where you can sit at the table with strangers and strike up conversations (Mighty Fine Burgers, Buca di Peppo, The Blue Dahlia, etc). Have cookouts and invite Christians and non-Christians. Flee the Christian subculture.

2.    Walk, Don’t Drive. If you live in a walkable area, make a practice of getting out and walking around your neighborhood, apartment complex, or campus. Instead of driving to the mailbox, convenience store, or apartment office, walk to get mail, groceries, and stuff. Be deliberate in your walk. Say hello to people you don’t know. Strike up conversations. Attract attention by walking the dog, taking a 6-pack (and share), bringing the kids. Make friends. Get out of your house! Last night I spend an hour outside gardening with my family. We had good conversations with 3-4 neighbors. Take interest in your neighbors. Ask questions. Engage. Pray as you go. Save some gas, the planet.

3.    Be a Regular. Instead of hopping all over the city for gas, groceries, haircuts, eating out, and coffee, go to the same places. Get to know the staff. Go to the same places at the same times. Smile. Ask questions. Be a regular. I have friends at coffee shops all over the city. My friends at Starbucks donate a ton of left over pastries to our church 2-3 times a week. We use for church gatherings and occasionally give to the homeless. Build relationships. Be a Regular.

4.    Hobby with Non-Christians. Pick a hobby that you can share. Get out and do something you enjoy with others. Try City League sports. Local rowing and cycling teams. Share your hobby by teaching lessons. Teach sewing lessons, piano lessons, violin, guitar, knitting, tennis lessons. Be prayerful. Be intentional. Be winsome. Have fun. Be yourself.

5.    Talk to Your Co-workers. How hard is that? Take your breaks with intentionality. Go out with your team or task force after work. Show interest in your co-workers. Pick four and pray for them. Form mom’s groups in your neighborhood and don’t make them exclusively non-Christian. Schedule play dates with the neighbors’ kids. Work on mission.

6.    Volunteer with Non-Profits. Find a non-profit in your part of the city and take Saturday a month to serve your city. Bring your neighbors, your friends, or your small group. Spend time with your church serving your city. Once a month. You can do it!

7.    Participate in City Events. Instead of playing X-Box, watching TV, or surfing the net, participate in city events. Go to fundraisers, festivals, clean-ups, summer shows, and concerts. Participate missionally. Strike up conversation. Study the culture. Reflect on what you see and hear. Pray for the city. Love the city. Participate with the city.

8.    Serve your Neighbors. Help a neighbor by weeding, mowing, building a cabinet, fixing a car. Stop by the neighborhood association or apartment office and ask if there is anything you can do to help improve things. Ask your local Police and Fire Stations if there is anything you can do to help them. Get creative. Just serve!

These next ten ideas I found on Youth Ministry 360 blog.  Some of the items are similar (not exactly the same, but similar) to the above ideas but read them anyway! If you are part of a youth ministry, these will be great for you. If you, however, cannot say you have the joy of dealing with the dramas of today’s youth in the capacity of a ministry, you may not think the below ideas will apply to you. Try to think of ways you can use them in your own life—sans teens.

9.    Make time to eat with students. Most people eat three meals a day. (Well, students usually eat at least four!) That’s over 21 opportunities a week for you to sit and engage in listening to and conversing with students. Eating a meal with someone is a great way to build  friendships and grow deeper relationships.

10.    Work in public places. If your pastor allows some flexibility, hold your meetings or prepare messages in coffee shops and restaurants. You may see a student working or find a parent. You may even hear conversations of parents talking about their teenagers. Working in public on a regular basis allows you to learn what is going on in the life of your community.

11.    Find out where God is at work and join Him. Churches are notorious for thinking they have to start ministries from scratch (many do so because they want their name attached to it). Find out where other ministries and churches are at work and join them. Help students get a healthy perspective on the Kingdom of God. When students see you are not territorial, not only will they learn from you, but they may just model the same spirit of cooperation.

12.    Don’t always be a homebody in the evenings. Take your family to a movie, out to eat, or to the park. Go eat dinner with a neighborhood family who has teenagers. Be out where you can meet your students’ friends who you may never see at church.

13.    Turn your garage into a front porch. Front porches use to be where neighborhoods came together and conversed. Clean out your garage, fill it with drinks, snacks, music, and games. Then, invite people who walk by in the neighborhood to grab a drink and chat. It’s a great way to share life with your neighbors. Or, plan a night to invite groups of students to just hang out with your family. No agenda . . . Just you letting missional relationships happen naturally.

14.    Have a consistent night of the week where your house has an open door policy. If married, make sure to talk with the wife first, okay guys. If you or your wife have the gift of hospitality, it’s a no brainer. Open up your home on a consistent night of each week for your students to invite seekers to hang out. Make it an intentional place for your students to bring those on the fringe. Eat, play, and have fun.

15.    Prayer walk. Take your students prayer walking around their school. Use what you see as cues for prayer (football field, classrooms, etc.). Ask God to fill your heart with a love for students and a desire to see revival break out in students’ hearts.

16.    Be a better listener. If anyone is known for storytelling and talking, it is youth ministers. Be a listener rather than often thinking how you have a funny story to tell. Listen with gospel ears. Just as the Bible is the story of creation, fall, and redemption, every person has these categories in their story. Where do they find purpose (creation)? What are their struggles (fall)? Where are the looking for fulfillment and satisfaction (redemption)?

17.    Adopt a local school. Get your entire church on board with pouring their time and resources into serving a local school. Build a better relationship with the principal and teachers. Find out the needs of the school.

18.    Pray with the restaurant’s server. One of my former pastors would always say to his server, “We are about to pray over the food, is there anything we can pray for you about?” Sometimes you get a smirk and a simple “no” but other times, you will hear the story of someone broken and in desperate need. It is a great way to be an example to your students.

There are so many GREAT ideas from these two blogs. One thing to remember:

Even if you just focus on ONE of the above activities, you will probably be doing more than you are doing now and will surely make God smile.

TELL US: What other things have you done (or heard of other people doing) that you think are good ways to be missional?

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