Crossing Paths: 4 Practical Ways To Be Missional
Guest Blogger: Blog Written By Michael Finley
Recently, Redeemer held our first Turkey Bowl. It was a fantastic and fun time hangin’ out, playing football, and eating too many hamburgers and hotdogs, for the purpose of meeting people who may not normally come to a church gathering. Everyone got to be on a team, and everyone got to play.
One of the awesome things about being a Christian is that when God saved you, he drafted you onto his team and put you into the game. Every believer is called to care, individually and corporately, for those around us by having an outward, missionary focus in our lives (Matt. 28:18-20).
The point of being missional is to be obedient to Jesus imperative "make disciples" and to see people meet Jesus. Recently, I was reading through the fifth chapter of Luke and noticed two things about mission. The first was from the healing of the paralytic (v. 17-26). In that situation men brought their friend to the place where Jesus was teaching in order to meet him and be healed. This example shows how as Christians we often invite people to interrupt their own life patterns and get into Jesus' path in order to meet Him and to be healed. For us today, an example of this approach may be inviting someone to church or a bible study. The person invited goes outside their regular path of life to come into an environment where Jesus is glorified and proclaimed. Many people have met Jesus this way.
However, it seems in this day and age where church-going is not as esteemed as it once was, this approach to mission is not as effective as it was fifty years ago. People do not necessarily believe that there is healing for their circumstances in a church. This is where the second example is so telling. After healing the paralytic Jesus went from there to the tax booth where Levi was working (v.27). Levi was not one to ever set foot into a religious meeting, he was a sinner of sinners and an outcast of his people. What is helpful when reading this is Jesus didn't wait for Levi to come to him but interjected himself into his path of life, revealing Levi's ultimate need for healing; his need for a savior.
As ambassadors for Christ and witnesses to his grace we can look at these passages and see Jesus' heart for sinners and his desire to save. We can also see two ways that people meet him: They get in his path or he gets in theirs. Today, God reveals his grace in numerous ways but more commonly he uses us, we as ambassadors bring people into Jesus' path or we bring Jesus into theirs.
Generally, Christians seem to have more difficulty telling people about Jesus than asking someone to go to church with them. Telling people about Jesus can seem intimidating and awkward, but it doesn't have to be. It's not like cold- clocking someone with the gospel, but rather engaging into their lives with them with gospel intentionality. This means spending time them, loving them, and helping them. All while waiting and trusting that God will provide an opportunity to share the good news of Christ.
Crossing Paths In Practical Ways
This all starts with meeting non-Christians. Entering into the paths of non-Christians seems to be a major barrier, but it shouldn't be. In no way extensive, I would like to share some very practical ways to make the initial step of crossing into their paths.
- "Free Food" - this seems to be the universal invitation that few turn down. My family recently moved to Bellingham and decided to invite our new neighbors over for dinner. We told the neighborhood we are cooking some good food and not to bring anything except yourself. 30 people showed up, 26 who do not know Jesus. We have continued to do these dinners and from them we now have a Gospel Community Group and two Discipleship Groups. We did not have to be weird or force anything. Through natural conversations God gave us opportunities to talk about Jesus and Redeemer Church.
- "The Meet Seats" - When you are out in public there are certain seats in public places such as coffee shops provide good opportunities to meet people. At a local coffee shop I frequent for studies, I purposely sit in one of four seats that awkwardly face each other. Almost every time I have sat at one of these seats I have met and engaged with someone new. Not so long ago the conversation naturally presented a significant opportunity to share Jesus.
- "Pub Hubs" - Another spot I found to be a great meeting spot was local restaurants and pubs. In these establishments community is already being promoted by having big family style seating where strangers regularly sit together. The difficult part of engaging is removed. So sit at one of these tables instead of by yourself. On a date recently with my wife, we met two sets of folks at a table like this and two of them, broke art students, are now planning on joining us for a dinner and game night. Like I said everyone likes free food especially broke artists.
- "Party Like Levi" - When Jesus saved Levi, Levi threw a party and invited all his buddies who didn't know Jesus. The bible says he threw a great banquet. In other words, he didn't hold back; his party was off the hook! Good food, good drink, good tunes, I mean a good party. And why wouldn't he? He just met Jesus! There are many reasons we throw parties: birthday parties, graduation parties, candle parties, costume parties, and holiday parties. Those are all good reasons to party, but not as good knowing Jesus. There is no good reason why non-Christians shouldn't be invited to those with you. My wife and I use every party we throw as a way to meet people who don't know Jesus and cross our paths. It brings people together for a common reason, to celebrate, and into your life. We invite coworkers, neighbors, family, church family, and people we meet at coffee shops and restaurants. Sure they might say no but we have found more times than not, they say yes.
The translation for the great commission can be read "as you go, make disciples". This means as you go about doing life, entertainment, relaxation, shopping, or getting a cup of coffee remember you are on mission and an ambassador for a God who pursues and saves. Some may not accept an invitation to come to church but many will accept an invite to your dinner table.
As you pursue others, remember You are not alone; Jesus is with you always. It's not awkward, it's loving. It's not weird, it's obedient. If you are willing God will provide opportunities for people in your life to respond to Jesus' call, "Follow me."