Good Habits for Everyday Missions

Life on missionBiblical Christianity is not just about a belief or a meeting. Its is a life that we live following Jesus.  A motto we have adopted that encompasses an important theme of the Bible (beginning with the Garden of Eden Genesis 1-3, and culminating at the great end time family event “the Marriage Supper of the Lamb Rev 19:7-10, 21:9) is,  “God’s Spirit filled family together on His mission.” Christianity is not just about a belief or a meeting. It is a life that we live following Jesus. Click To Tweet

When we understand that Christianity and church isn’t a meeting or organization but a way of life (with God’s and His family) it affects the way we engage in everyday mission. Missions and evangelism isn’t a program or event but an everyday life’s journey.  It’s to be a way of life not an optional add on.  

We need to see God come into our everyday patterns of life that we already live.  What are the areas of life that everyone engages in?  Rest, Eating, Work, Leisure, and Celebrations.  Celebrations are things like holidays, birthdays, and weddings etc. (Jesus first miracle was at a wedding).  Leisure can be vacations, recreation, and sports etc.  Work is self explanatory whether it be work around the house or your job site.  Physical and emotional rest is something everyone needs.

Rather than missions and evangelism being a program added on to our already busy life, what if it really became part of our everyday life patterns/rhythms?  We either invite others into ours or we join them in theirs. 

Building Everyday Missional Habits among God’s People Missional Habits

Like any area of life good habits help us to develop and walk in beneficial endeavors. Here are two acronyms I have heard that contain ideas in developing good habits for everyday missions and evangelism.

VISA (Visit, Invite, Serve, Ask):  All foreign missionaries have to get a visa to go to their mission field.  

  • Visit – visit with your friends and neighbors showing interest, friendship, and offer to pray for them.
  • Invite  open your homes and lives to show hospitality (making people feel welcome and valued).  Invite friends and neighbors over for a meal, dessert, or conversation etc. Jesus did quite of a bit of His mission around meals.  Almost all of the book of Luke records accounts of Jesus going to a meal, eating at a meal, or coming from a meal.  Conversations around meals can be openings to talk about deeper things.
  • Serve  look for ways to practically serve neighbors or people in the community.  We are looking for ways to show the love of God through serving and caring.   
  • Ask – we are looking for ways to ask God for them.  Pray for them, and with them when you can to release the presence and power of God.  

BELLS (Bless, Eat, Listen, Learn, Serve):

  • BLESS – Bless means “to speak well of or to praise.” Later the meaning shifted toward “pronounce or make happy.”  Today Christians use the word “bless” in a variety ways. Even blessing someone who has just sneezed is an expression of goodwill and a desire for continued health.  In blessing someone we want to bring encouragement and help lift the burden of life even for a few moments.   How can we bless someone?

Words of Affirmation  This is the simplest way to bless someone.  Speak or send people words of affirmation or encouragement through a note, an email, or a text.  Let them know you’ve noticed something valuable about them. This isn’t flattery, but something God helps you notice to bring His light on.   I’ve heard it said that a word of encouragement is like oxygen to the soul.

Mark Twain, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” 

Acts of Kindness  Who doesn’t feel blessed when someone does them a favor or provides some kind of practical support? Cutting someone’s lawn. Babysitting an exhausted couple’s kids. Helping a neighbor move. These acts of kindness lift up and bring strength to others.

Gifts  There is a thoughtful element behind giving a small gift that shows we value and care for someone.  

  • EAT – Eating was an important part of life and ministry with Jesus, the disciples, and others.  Much Kingdom activity in the Gospels happened around meals.  We need to see eating missionally.  Eating is a normal rhythm of life. You won’t need to add a great deal into your already busy schedule. You already eat 3 times a day. That’s 21 meals a week. We simply want to see people come around some of those 21 meals.  

The table is the great equalizer in relationships.  When you sit across the table from people it is easier to open up.  When we eat together we rediscover the value of people. We share stories, hopes, fears, and disappointments. People open up, and we can open up to them to share things, including our faith in Jesus.

  • LISTEN – We listen for Holy Spirit’s voice and promptings over our neighbors and friends.  It may be a direction or an throught God wants you to share with them in a wise, discreet way. 
  • LEARN – We can learn from the life of Jesus about how He did things.  We do this by studying the person and work of Jesus in the gospels as well as reading good books about Him.  I have done a systematic study of how Jesus engaged in mission on earth in a fresh way going though all the gospels.  I am finding that He tended to do 3 things throughout the gospels.  He indiscriminately blessing and healed people.  He gave clear calls to follow Him.  He challenged people who took comfort in their own ability to please Him.
  • SENT – We need the identity of a missionary everyday.  Missions is everyone, everywhere, all the time.  Everyday missionaries, like Jesus and the disciples, alert people to God’s reign/kingdom through acts of love and kindness as well as releasing God’s supernatural power.  

Let’s incorporate good missionary habits in our everyday life.

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On Mission Everyday All The Time

MissionalJoh 1:14  MSG The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.

When I see people heading  for the parking lot after services on Sundays I wonder if they see any connection between the service they just attended and the other 98% of their waking hours?  Do they see any connection of the Kingdom of God they just touched in the meeting to the same Kingdom within and around them everyday?  Will they see God’s mission in their everyday life? Will they look for a week of opportunities as  His missionaries at their workplace, school, neighborhood, and marketplace?

We put a slogan up over the main exit of our church building, “You are entering  your mission field” as a reminder that we are called to God’s mission everyday all the time.

Contrary to contemporary missional ideas, Christians do not need to move to a Third World  country to make a significant contribution in the mission field.  They don’t have to go overseas to participate in the fulfilling of the great commission. Many times the most significant mission field is right under our nose.

I have heard estimates that America is probably the fourth largest non-Christian nation in the world. Some report that there are 235 million non-Christians in America.  Europe and other nations have similar statistics.

Every Christian spends about 65% of their waking moments at work, school, their neighborhood,  or the marketplace.  There is a strategic nature of these places in the plan of God.

The early church advanced in the first century not primarily by preachers, teachers, debaters, and evangelist. It was the nameless thousands of people who brought Jesus into their everyday life and reached out as His ambassadors. Men and women shared to gospel with their friends, colleagues, customers, and others in their everyday course of life.

Think what would happen if the vast majority of people in Christians became serious about their calling to their personal mission field Monday through Saturday. Here are a three things to remember in order to keep a Godly perspective on moving in our everyday mission field.

  • Remember that God is at work in the earth.  We need to look for His hand at work and join Him.  

We are not on our own as we move in our everyday mission field. This was the secret to Jesus working. Joh 5:19-20…”Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.

Jesus spoke this just after the encounter with the woman at the well in John 4. In the midst of His ordinary day in which He was tired and hungry He sat and spoke to the woman at the well. As He engaged her He saw signs of the Father working and He joined Him in the process.

We are not called to force spiritual conversations on reluctant strangers. None of us, especially introverts, aspire to be Christian telemarketers and high-pressure Spiritual salespersons. It isn’t about cornering and converting them. He wants us to be alert to ways in which He is working or has already broken ground, then join Him in the process.

As Peter tells us, as we live our life out loud we are more apt to respond to questions about why we are living the way we are or why we believe what we do. We respond, not if a rude way, but in an up front, honest and courteous way. 1 Peter 3:15 MSG Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy.

  • Remember that evangelism is often a process not just an event.

Joh 4:35-38 “Do you not say…, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. (36) “Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. (37) “For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ (38) “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor.”
1Co 3:7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Often people take small steps and make small decision that lead to the big decision of giving their life completely to Jesus. God wants to use ordinary followers of Jesus to erode the barriers in their hearts and minds. Like any form of erosion it can take time. It happens through the course of interaction, caring relationships, meaningful conversations, and thought provoking presentations of the truth.

One evangelist, Glenn Middleton uses the analogy of warming the soil. Sometimes we are planting seeds and other times we are warming the soil. The soil has to get to a certain temperature to cause the seed to sprout. No effort is wasted.  The Biblical metaphors of agricultural work in the harvest show us the process of evangelism. Every farmer knows the harvest is hard work, clearing the land, cultivating the soil, planning seeds, watering, and fertilizing, always precedes the joy of harvest.

  • Remember that what we do and who we are is just as important as what we say.

Simple efforts to serve others, express care, and live out the Christian life has as much of a positive impact as our talking points. While we need to speak up, just because we don’t speak at times doesn’t mean how we live isn’t communicating something in the hearts of people.

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Summertime Missions

summer missionsJohn 17:18-21  “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world…(21)  that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. (3 times in this prayer Jesus asked that His people would have the same type of relational life as the Godhead and with the Godhead).  This prayer can be summed up with the motto “God’s family joined together on God’s mission.”

Joh 20:21as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

We are sent by Jesus into the world which is the heart of all missions.  Missions and evangelism isn’t an event.  It is not some add-on program to an already busy life.   It is our life!  It is to be a way of life among God’s people.  “Go and make disciples…Let you speech always be seasoned with salt…be prepared to give a defense for your hope” (Mt 28:18-19, Col 4:6, 1 Pet 3:15) is what we are to naturally live out in everyday life.  It is living with gospel and missional intentionality.

Gospel and Missional Intentionality

Gospel and missional intentionality in everyday life is what Jesus encouraged in the account of the woman at the well (John 4).  He was tired and hungry.  He sat down to drink and sent the disciples to get food (everyday life things).  He encountered the woman and shared the things of God with her causing her to go in to town and bring a bunch of other people to meet Him. When the disciples returned (from doing everyday life things) Jesus told them to “lift up your eyes and look on the fields” (Jn 4:35).  Lifting up our eyes and looking on the harvest field all around us is the idea of missional and gospel intentionality.

The summer months are a unique time for living everyday life with gospel and missional intentionality.  It is warmer and more people are engaged in outdoor activities.  Because of this it is easier to see people and be seen by people.    It sometimes helps to have some practical ideas to prime our creative/Spiritual pumps. Often the profound is in the simple! The normal everyday things that many people are already doing can be engage with intentionality.

Simple Summertime Missional Ideas

It is easy after a long day of work to go indoors and sit in front of a computer, phone, or television screen surfing the internet or watching programs.  Force yourself to get up and get out in public.  You can visit a friend, neighbor, hang out in a coffee shop, park, tropical snow (flavored shaved ice shop), or ice cream shop.

  • Go for a walk or better yet go for a walk with family (church family). Walking is one of the best ways to be seen and engage people in your neighborhood, parks, campus, and other public places.  It is good to be seen and known in your neighborhood. Have the mindset to go with gospel intentionality meeting people, saying hello, and striking up conversations with those you don’t know.  It is simply loving and taking an interest in people.  Ask questions, serve, show the love of God, pray for people, and bring up Jesus (the good news).   Make friends.  Get out of your house and get into the stream of people.
  • Prayer walking is a good thing to do as well (discretely, no shouting, wild praising, or spiritual dancing).  As you walk and pray you will often get insight by the Spirit as you are onsite praying.  This helps in God directed prayer for people, places, businesses, and yourself to have God’s heart for people.
  • Have an idea of taking one evening a week or month to serve neighbors.  Mow the neighbor’s yard, weed eat, weed their garden, or pick up trash in your neighborhood. People often move in warmer weather.  Offer to lend a hand to someone moving in our out.  Try to do it things like this with others for your church following the pattern of Jesus as He sent out the 12 and 70 in pairs on mission (Mt 9-11 and Luke 9-10).   This is both for mutual support and it sometimes makes it easier to talk with others.
  • Eat with someone.  There are three ways the New Testament completes the sentence, “The Son of Man came…”  “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many ” (Mark 10:45); “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10); ” The Son of Man has come eating and drinking …” (Luke 7:34).  The first two are statements of purpose. The third is a statement that is descriptive. How did Jesus come? He came eating and drinking.

Jesus mission strategy seen primarily in Luke often included a long meal stretching into the evening. He did evangelism and discipleship around a table or the fire.  The whole book of Luke seems to be about Jesus going to, eating, or coming from a meal.  We all eat 3 meals a day.  That’s 21 opportunities for church and mission.   In the Bible meals were a powerful place of hospitality.  You can express the welcome of God as you eat with gospel intentionality.  Summer cookouts are easy to do with others in public or home spaces. 

  • Adopt a local park, coffee shop, or ice cream shop you visit regularly with missional and gospel intentionality. You will become known as a regular.
  • Have meetings, study, and read in public spaces like coffee shops and parks. It will naturally help you engage the culture around you. You may do so with fellow church members and you discussions can be overheard.  You will be surprised at who and what Holy Spirit will bring across your path.
  • Look for things you already enjoy doing, find a group that shares that passion, and get involved with missional and gospel intentionality.  Softball leagues, fishing, work out groups, golf or swimming groups etc.  You can be missional and have fun at the same time.

 

 

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