Please read my blog post from yesterday to see why it’s dangerous to idolize overseas missions.
As my friend Dena pointed out on Facebook, the phrase “I’m Not a Missionary” is pretty inaccurate because every believer is a missionary wherever they are. We are all joining with God on His mission to save the world and glorify Himself.
Before I begin my list, I want to remind you that the key to being missional is not good ideas or relationships or situations, but love for the Gospel. (Even reading the title of this great blog post from DG challenged me: "Don't Get Organized, Get Enthralled.")
The problem is not that we don’t have good systems for evangelism, but that our desire for Christ to be glorified is weak and unprovoking. So---no surprise here---if you want to know how to better love others, love God. It’s cool how He makes all that work.
The most mobilizing thing you can do is read your Bible and find yourself in awe of how worthy God is to be worshipped. Enjoy Christ and be broken over how much the lost are missing.
So here’s the list. Please keep in mind that though I can recommend some of these from experience, I am nowhere near where I want to be evangelistically, and I can afford to
-Go after the messy people in your life.
There are women and girls that I know who need to hear the gospel, but in my mind these people are “exceptions” to my missional to-do list because I really don’t want to get involved in their lives (maybe they’re annoying, rude, etc.)
I want to go overseas to make God known to people that I perceive are just waiting to worship Him (which is a totally idealistic notion anyway), but God is just as worthy to receive praise from the “messy” acquaintances, friends, or family members that are already in my life.
In other words, the command “love your neighbour as yourself” is a lot easier to obey when you tell yourself “I’m totally going to love my neighbours when I move to Uganda!” as you pat yourself on the back for your future-tense obedience. But we need to reach out to those people who are actually in our lives now, even the ex-Christian who really hurt you.
May we dare not say "I'll invest in anyone but her! She's not worthy of my time and effort!" Praise the LORD that, despite our severe unworthiness, He invested in us!
-Embrace people of other cultures!
When I found out my neighbor is from Turkey, I started researching Turkey like a madman and even learned some Turkish phrases, thinking maybe this was God calling us to be missionaries to Turkey. I don’t know if that’s the case (it probably isn’t), but I definitely know God is calling us to be missionaries my neighbour! She was absolutely enthralled when I said “İyi akşamlar!” one evening and it really makes her feel loved when I ask about her home country. (Plus, it’s really interesting to hear about it!) I am so grateful that God has allowed me to know her!
When I was still researching going overseas, I decided I really wanted to be involved in an English-speaking international church at a port city where people from all over the world come to work. These churches are so strategic because people from all nations---even restricted nations---are hearing the Gospel, becoming followers of Jesus, and going back to their home countries and sharing the Gospel there!
Then I realized I live right outside Tampa! The pastors of my new church strategically came to Tampa to plant a church because of how diverse the culture is---geographically, socio-economically, etc. etc. This place exudes global influence. May I view my city with the same missional intent!
-Go to the same cashier at Walmart, ask for the same banker at Wells Fargo, etc.
Build relationships where you are. I know someone who has gotten to share the gospel with people in both of those situations I mentioned. It took a lot of time and some intentionality but she said it was totally worth it!
-Use your skills or situation to get involved in the community.
Go to the skate park or play basketball. Join La Leche League or go to library events for children. See what our city has to offer and get involved with other people there.
Just don’t go so far in the “friendship-forming” process that you become a cowardly people-pleaser. (This is a major struggle for me!) I do not want my lost friends to say “If Jesus is as important as you’re saying, why have we been friends for so long without you telling me I need Him?”
I read a really good quote on Twitter the other day: "If you don't live a life that demands a gospel explanation, you probably won't share the gospel very much." -Jeff Vanderstelt
-Read your Bible, talk about it, or work on scripture memory in public places.
That sounds totally Pharisaical and boasting-about-your-righteousness, so you really have to check your heart on this, but really...show nonbelievers that His Word is life and we need it at all times. Show them the sweet precious Word that sustains us and that we enjoy. Publicly cherish the Word.
-Be open about yourself.
Don’t be afraid to tell nonbelievers that you’re struggling or that you’re going through a hard time. If you act like Christianity is all peaches and roses they’ll probably think you’re trying to sell them a lie. Jesus said it’d be hard...but He said He’d be with us.That is a distinction that we can boast in to our friends and family as we confess our hardships.
Ask God to give you the courage to be real with your friends and family and say things like “I know you’re empty. It breaks my heart. Don’t you think there could be a better way?” or “That’s a really hard situation! I can’t imagine what you’re going through. Do you ever wonder why?” Then tell them how they can be filled! Eternity is urgent; don’t be afraid to express that urgency. (Reading Charles Spurgeon, especially Around the Wicket Gate, has really inspired me to beg and plead with the lost to believe and repent.)
-Give to missions!
How American of us to think we need to get our hands into something for it to be good.
For a good article on why it might be a good idea to cancel your short-term mission trip and give your money to people who actually live overseas long-term, read this.
-Keep it complicated.
(I read a great blog post on The Gospel Coalition that I definitely recommend.) If you want someone to follow Jesus, don’t be afraid to tell them what following Jesus entails, according to the Bible! It’s okay to boast in every bit of God’s character; there are too many weak and diluted views of Jesus being pushed on people anyways. Simply saying “Jesus loves you” to a nonbeliever is most likely something they’ve heard a million times already anyways, and it doesn’t show them their need for a Saviour. Tell them the truth that they haven’t heard.
-Read the Gospels and Acts.
See what kind of people in which Jesus invested himself. See how He did it. See what He said. See what the apostles did and said. Adopt their mission, their strategy.
For example, when I was in Mark last week, I was so convicted when I read about how Jesus cared about the marginalized (like children and deaf and blind people.) I thought about that odd-looking toothless neighbour who walks her dog all day and is a really good target for telling Peter things like “You won’t believe what that weird lady did today.”
May I instead see the “weird” people in my life as souls in need of Christ, not dehumanized objects of snickering. It is so American to objectify others in this way while soap-boxing about how we need to care for the poor and needy.
You may not be able to go for God to the nations, but you can certainly go to God for the nations.
I would venture to say that prayer is the most humble, effective means of ministry.
You won’t get books written about you and it’s likely that nobody will ever know of you labours, but I’m sure that God is using some grandmothers in their prayer closets to bring about major revival across the world.
I hope this helped! Please comment and leave YOUR suggestions for being missional where you are!
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a rad guy, and raising three little people ages 1,3, and 5...and I'm now expecting my fourth. I like chartreuse, calligraphy, Coke Icees, childbirth, crocs, Studio C, and...alliteration.
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