One important identity we carry as the church is to see our everyday life as a mission trip. There are unsaved people both at the ends of the earth and at the end of our block.
We are a sent people (“As the Father sent Me, I also send you” John 17:18-21, 20:21, Matthew 10:5-13, Luke 10:1-12, Mark 3:14-35). Jesus sends us into the world to be a testimony of His gospel in the middle of everyday life. This includes both the nations and our neighborhoods. It is important to remember that across the street is just as important as across the ocean.
Throughout the Bible, God gives us instruction for this everyday missional life with the family of God
- Matthew 28:18-19 As you go, make disciples.
- Colossians 4:5 Walk wisely towards outsiders making the most of every opportunity you have.
- Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be seasoned with salt so you know how to respond to people.
- 1 Peter 3:15-16 Be prepared to give a defense for your hope and do so with gentleness and respect.
Our neighborhoods (where we live, parks and recreation areas, restaurants, the marketplaces) are important to God. Do you see these places as an essential part of God’s mission? Here are four questions to answer to awaken us to God’s mission all around us, including in our neighborhoods and marketplaces.
- Do I believe God loves the people in my neighborhood as much as people in other nations?
- Are the lost in my neighborhood as important as the lost in faraway places?
- Are prayers for my neighbors just as important as prayers for the nations?
- Is He at work there to redeem them?
We are called to be aware of seasons in our everyday mission.
- 2 Timothy 4:1-2 I…preach the word; be ready (present, in a friendly way) and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
- Ecclesiastes 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heavens:
- Galatians 6:9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
Most of us are in the middle of a season of warmer weather and summertime activities. Warmer months are a special time for living everyday life with missional intentionality. Because of the warmer weather, more people are engaged in outdoor activities. It is easier to see, and be seen by people during warm weather seasons. It sometimes helps to have some practical ideas to prime our Spiritual/creative pumps. Often the profound is in the simple! Everyday things that people are already doing can be engaged with missional intentionality.
Practical Ideas to Take Spiritual Advantage of our Current Warmer Season
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. Let’s be intentional to get up and get out among people.
Go for a walk or, better yet, go with God’s family. Jesus sent His disciples out two by two (Matthew 9-11, Luke 9-10). 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 an intentional mindset to meet people, say hello, and initiate conversations. Give them a blessing, as Jesus instructed. It is simply loving and taking an interest in people. Ask questions, serve, show the love of God, pray for people, and bring up the good news of Jesus and His kingdom. Get out of your house and get into the stream of people.
Prayer walking is a good thing to do as well. As you walk and pray, you will often get INSIGHT by the Spirit as you are ONSITE in the neighborhood. This helps in God-directed prayer for people, places, businesses, and yourself to have God’s heart for people. Also, ask to pray for people on the spot to release the power of God.
Look for people moving into the neighborhoods and give warm welcomes. According to Census data from 2019, nearly 31 million people moved in the United States. That’s 9.8% of all Americans moving. Taking the average American household size of 2.3 people, this means 15.3 million American households move each year. Most of the time they move between May and August due to the weather.
Take an 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. Offer to lend a hand to someone moving in or out. If possible, bring others from your church family into this process to multiply efforts (This is one reason He sent His disciples out in pairs Matthew 9-11, Luke 9-10).
Eat with someone or invite them over with hospitality (making visitors feel desired and welcome). 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” (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 descriptive statement. How did Jesus come? He came eating and drinking. Warm weather often makes it easier to bring people to a meal, picnics, cookouts, and snacks in and around our decks/porches.
One of the missional strategies of Jesus seen primarily in the book of Luke often included a long meal stretching into the evening. He did evangelism and discipleship around a table or a fire. The whole book of Luke records events surrounding Jesus while He is either going to, eating, or coming from a meal. In the Bible, meals were a powerful place of hospitality. You can express the welcome of God as you eat with gospel intentionality. (Doug)
Adopt a local park, coffee shop, or ice cream shop to visit regularly. You will become known when you are a regular.
Have meetings, study, or read in public spaces like coffee shops and parks. It will naturally help you engage in the surrounding culture. You may do so with fellow church members, who can overhear your discussions. It will surprise you 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. These could include softball leagues, fishing, workout groups, golf, or swimming groups. You can be missional and have fun at the same time.
Let’s get out there and take advantage of the warmer season with missional intentionality to see the power of God and the Gospel made know in our neighborhoods.