Are you a missionary? I am. I’m not always a faithful missionary. I’m not always an effective missionary. But I am a missionary… and so are you. All who follow Christ are given the mission to make disciples as we go along the road of life. Some are sent overseas. Some are sent to unreached places. Some are freed up to do this vocationally. But we’re all sent into the world together as communities of missionaries (John 20:21).
We talk about this often with our church. We try to help everyone embrace their identity as a missionary and a vital member of a missionary community (Life Group). For some, this can seem overwhelming, so I want to offer a few practical ideas that can help us approach everyday life as everyday missionaries.
We’ve seen people become a part of our community through relationships built at stores, gyms, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, parks, hospitals and grocery stores. These relationships rarely develop through a single encounter. They grow over time and with regular interactions. Go to the same places for your regular routines. Go to the same coffee shop regularly and build a relationship with the baristas. Go to the same gym at the same time each week and build relationships. Go to the same library at the same story-time session weekly with your kids, and become a part of that community. Shop at the same grocery store at a regular time and go to the same check out each time. Be intentional about visiting the same places for your weekly activities. Get to know the people, remember their names, ask about their kids and their weeks and follow up next time you see them. Before long, you’ll find out that you’re becoming friends.
New friendships require time together — whether it is with your neighbors, coworkers or other people you have met along the road. Eat meals together, go to parks together, watch sporting games together, do hobbies together — just do something together that allows you to share your life, listen, learn and love. In our culture, people will recognize an agenda-driven, salesman approach to friendship. We must actually love people — whether or not they ever come to believe. When you are genuinely friends with someone, they will trust you and listen to your perspective more readily, and they will more readily share their true reasons for not yet believing.
“Show & Tell” the grace of God
As friendships grow, we must model honesty about our own brokenness. Most people imagine Christians to be either clean and put together or hypocrites, so they feel the need to pretend like they have it together. This proclivity to maintain a façade of righteousness hinders us from proclaiming and celebrating the grace of God. Because of God’s grace in Christ, we can be real about who we are — our struggles, our trials, our failures and our joys. We don’t want to boast in our sin, but we do want to be honest about it so that we can boast in the Cross where we have received grace. As friends begin to let us into their lives, we must show God’s grace to them as we accept them, and we must be bold to share with them the good news of God’s grace in Christ.
Invite friends into your community
Introducing unbelievers to your community of believing friends is one of the most neglected, yet important aspects of introducing people to Jesus. Practically, this is the same as building friendships, but it requires finding ways to build friendships with unbelieving friends and believing friends simultaneously. When people see your individual life and your love, they see one good person. When they meet your believing friends, they will (hopefully) meet a community of grace, a community of honest and broken people, a community of servants and a community that loves God’s truth. They will meet the Body of Christ. Your community displays God to the world because God is in you (i.e. y’all). When broken people are accepted by God’s people, they begin to understand that God will accept them too, because of Jesus. Often people come into a real relationship with God after first coming into a meaningful relationship with His people.
Pray like missionaries
If we are God’s missionaries, then we must pray like missionaries. We must pray for opportunities for ourselves and for one another. We must pray for readiness. We must pray for Spirit-filled love. We must pray for patience. We must pray for wisdom. We must pray for awakening. Unless God graciously acts, we will never see people come to new life in Christ. So, above all, we must pray for God to awaken our friends to the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.