Wouldn’t it be great if your community knew that your church is the place that people get help? If your congregants were known on the job and in the neighborhoods as people to go to when you need help?
What if your computer genius was known for finding creative solutions to programs that made a difference? If your executive was known as a mentor throughout the business community?
What if your entire congregation thought of themselves as missionaries – and lived their lives accordingly?
I have friends that are missionaries. Many of them work in a secular job on the mission field and just love people as they are. They share their faith in a community that doesn’t know Jesus. They share their mental and emotional resources to be Christ’s hand to those who have only known judgement.
I think the answer starts on the pastoral team. I think that when we see our people as those we have to please, they become consumers. I think when we see them as missionaries, they become missional. It will change how we talk, how we preach, how we disciple and how we lead.
Most of us serve in older churches that don’t turn overnight. We think that change comes through changing programs, changing traditions. The real change comes inside us. What do our people need us to do to make them the best missionaries they can be?
The fresh wind of the Spirit doesn’t mean we have to upturn the apple cart – a lot of times, it just means that we look at the apple cart differently. Your (local) missionaries need a place to connect with each other. They need discipleship to build strong families and strong marriages. They need equipping so that they use their talents, personalities and strengths to make a difference in the world. They need to know God’s voice and His character.
There have been times when I saw the bottom line of my effectiveness in how many people were in the seats on Sundays. I still find value in knowing how many lives are touched – but the truth is that every body who comes on Sunday will touch a lot more people during the week. Those are the people on my heart. How can we reach them? How can we help our church attenders see themselves as missionaries?
I have a couple of ideas, but I am sure you can add many more:
- Change our language. Assume that every Christian has a ministry and talk about that from the pulpit. Instead of talking about being Christ’s representative (a very democratic word, I think) talk about finding out what God is doing in people’s lives and shining a light on it.
Draw a parallel between missionaries on the field and missionaries at home. This might really be fun. What if we had a missionary that we support do a google hangout with our congregation on Sunday and talk about what daily life is like for them? How does setting up a household in a foreign land and setting up a household in our city parallel?
Now it is your turn. What are ways that you help your congregants love people who don’t know Jesus?