Home > Blog > Mobilizing People for Mission [Part 3]

October 16, 2018

Mobilizing People for Mission [Part 3]

By Sam Hilton

Click here to read Mobilizing People for Mission, Part 1 and Mobilizing People for Mission, Part 2.

As we have discussed how to build a culture of mission, we are examining the three Cs of building a culture of mission: conviction, connection, and competence. We’re not talking about connection; that is, those things that hold people back from speaking about Jesus.

A lot of what I’ll mention here is drawn from Sam Chan’s Evangelism in a Skeptical World.

Intentionality in Evangelism

People sometimes say, “I don’t know anyone outside of church.” What they usually mean by that is “I don’t have any really close friends who don’t know Jesus.” And the mentality here is that we need to be really tight with someone before the gospel can enter our conversations.  But, close friends aren’t the only ones with whom we can share the gospel.

Most people in our church work with people who aren’t Christians or go to gyms with people who aren’t Christians, or their kids are on sporting teams with people who aren’t Christians. At the very least, they live on streets where there are people who aren’t Christians. We need to help people see the opportunities that are before them, and often underlying that is the conviction issue we explored previously.

Our challenge in this isn’t to berate people for it; it is to help them see that my BFF isn’t the only one with whom we can bring up the topic of Jesus. We need to remind each other of this truth, just as Paul in 2 Corinthians 5.  We need to remind each other to see the world through the lens of the gospel so the person I sit next to at work isn’t just some guy who annoys me by talking too loudly on his phone, but as someone who is either outside of Christ or someone who is in Christ.

People Need to See Themselves as Missionaries

If you are a missionary and you move to another part of the globe to get involved in church planting or evangelism, then you think differently than the way most people live and operate in the world.  Every decision you make comes under the lens of the gospel. What town do I live in, and where in that town? To which school will I send my kids? In what activities will I get involved? Knitting groups, soccer teams, or you might decide to learn a new skill so you can meet new people.  Everything that you do comes under the lens of the gospel. You have this acute sense of awareness that everyone you meet is someone who needs to hear about Jesus.

Our default, and the default of those we lead, is to just do life the way everyone else does. We make decisions about where to live and work and eat and play and do school based on what we want to do. But, we want to say to our people: we are missionaries right here and now. In fact, it’s not even the way that many who lead churches think. We get lured into the momentum of life and work and family and church, so we don’t stop and think, Hang on! What am I here for? Why did Jesus save me? How can I live for his glory in this community?

We need to help people think of themselves as missionaries in the community so they begin to look for active ways to connect with those around them.

Not Solo Missionaries

Too often we paint the picture that evangelism is something people do on their own.  But that’s daunting. And it’s tough for a number of reasons. For starters, in the western narrative, Sam Chan says that the perception is that Christians are now the bad guys. We are the ones who oppress, harm, and take away freedom. Things are much more hostile today. And so your average Christian is actually super anxious about any conversation about God coming up.

The other reason it’s hard is that while many people believe in a god or think they’re spiritual, but they don’t believe in a transcendent God who is all powerful, and yet at the same time a knowable God.  So when we talk about God and the Bible, Jesus’ death and resurrection, and having a relationship with Jesus, we may as well be talking about unicorns, fairy-god mothers, mermaids, and martians. When you’re the only Christian in the room, who believes this crazy narrative of God becoming man to rescue us from sin and death, it can be hard to turn the tide.

We need to flip those things on their heads!!  We need to start to help people to live intentional lives for Jesus, and we need to help people to do a better job of mixing their worlds.  

Practical Steps to Help People Connect

1. Pray. 

At Hunter Bible Church, we’ve built into our membership series, our preaching series, and our social media communication ways to keep encouraging people to be praying both for the city as a whole but also for 3-5 people in their various communities who don’t yet know Jesus. It might be a work colleague. It might be someone at the gym. Whatever that looks like for you, you need to keep modeling from the front and persuading people to be praying for those people in a consistent way. Prayer is key. 

2. Train people to mix their worlds.

If you’ve been a Christian for a while, you can compartmentalize your life so that church stuff is here and other stuff is here. People often feel like they’re the only Christian in the room, and they’re doing it all solo.  But the more Christians they meet the more plausible our worldview seems, so we have to mix worlds. That might mean you grab a few mates and build a basketball team and invite your unbelieving friends to join you.  Or if you are going to watch a sporting event, invite others. We have a few mums at church who have joined knitting groups together as a way of meeting unbelievers.

We want to help people see that being mission minded isn’t something you tack onto the week; it is a lifestyle change.  It’s not simply an evangelistic church event or brave conversation that we add into our busy lives. Instead, our whole lives need to become evangelistic. We do this by becoming friends with non-believers. We invest time into our non-believing friends. We become part of their trusted network of friends. We go to their events, parties, and birthdays.  In doing so, our non-believing friends might gradually adopt our plausibility structures.

When this happens, the gospel will also become more and more plausible to them.

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Hilton

Sam Hilton is the Missions Pastor at Hunter Bible Church in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.

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