A couple of weeks ago, Tyler described the concept of incarnational mission, as “living life among the culture of the people you are trying to reach.”
Hopefully we are continuing to understand our culture, and determine ways to integrate the gospel into the lives of those in our culture. There are two primary means of accomplishing this. One is through what Joe wrote about last Friday, called missional rhythms. Remember those? As Joe said, missional rhythms are all about “creating specific ways of orienting your life and routines so that you will come in contact with people who don’t know Christ and that you will use these encounters to build relationships that will eventually create an open door for sharing the Gospel.” Missional rhythms are when we consider ways to intentionally integrate the gospel into the lives of folks we encounter as we go through our normal routines of life.
A great Biblical example of this would be the woman at the well. In this story, we don’t see Jesus asking His disciples to organize a evangelistic outreach in Samaria. He was simply journeying from one place to another. He was tired and thirsty, and sat down by Jacob’s well (Starbucks might be our equivalent today), and used the opportunity to introduce the Kingdom of God to a woman who was going about her daily routine. That’s a missional rhythm.
The other primary way of accomplishing missional living is through what we’ll call missional events.
Typically when we think of “events” in church life, we think of things that revolve around the church building or even the church calendar. We’ve seen festivals, car washes, scrap-booking events, wild game dinners, etc. These are what I would call “attractional events”…things that the church does, and the church plans, on the church grounds, according to the church calendar in order to attract the lost to the church. All of these are valid means of evangelism and outreach, and are probably worthy of a future post on this blog; however, attractional events are not missional events. Attractional events are those that typically seek to attract people to the church building (or an obvious “Christian setting”) in order to expose them to the gospel. Conversely, missional events are those that seek to attract people to YOU in order for you to expose them to the gospel.
There are several key factors to consider with respect to missional events:
Relational – the event should generate conversation and promote relational connection with your lost friends. Going with them to go see a movie might not fulfill this criteria; however, gathering at a coffee shop after watching a movie together in order to talk about the movie would be a great idea.
Common points of interest – If you have folks in your workplace who enjoy sushi, then go grab some sushi together. But, if you don’t like sushi, don’t fake it just to spend time with them…..they’ll see that your interest is not genuine, and you may get sick – neither of which will be helpful in communicating the gospel.
Not overtly “spiritual” – This further distinguishes missional events from attractional events. A missional event is where you share a common interest, build a relationship, and expose them to the gospel over time, but it is not a bait-and-switch scenario where we lure them into our home to watch a college football game, and then at halftime we have our own little evangelistic crusade. We must do these events with integrity – remember, the point is to build a relationship and expose them to the gospel. Its also important that your lost friend not be the only unbeliever in a room full of Christians. Try to keep the ratio more balanced.
Gospel-focused – Don’t forget the point. We want to faithfully proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to our lost friends. Don’t get so caught up in the event that you lose focus, and it becomes all about the event itself. Through the relationship that you build with your friend, share the gospel with him or her as soon as you can. Don’t wait till a year of gathering together on Friday nights to scrap book has passed to tell them about the most important thing in your life. If you’ve waited that long, then it’s either NOT the most important thing in your life, or you really don’t care for your friend as much as you think you do – none of those are things we want to communicate.
So, what are some examples? I’ll throw some out there….you pitch in and keep the conversation going….your ideas may generate additional ideas that may result in someone coming to know the Lord!
- UFC Fight Night – have guys from work over to watch “the fight” on your big screen
- Frisbee Golf Tournament – pile in the SUV with another family or two and head to the park for an afternoon of throwing frisbees (discs, excuse me)
- Backyard BBQ – its time-tested and it works…just invite a few neighbors over to sample your grilling mastery
- Scrap-booking – Briefly mentioned this above as an attractional event, but why not have one of these in your home once a month?
OK, your turn…..