The following is a guest post by Tyler Recker.
At the risk of oversimplification, I think that folks who aren’t living on mission find themselves in one of two positions. A) They have been swallowed up by Christian culture, so that they honestly don’t know any non-believers on a meaningful level or B) They live life among non-believers but they compromise so that there is no discernible difference in lifestyle between believers and non-believers.
Church folk like myself are tempted to be silent on the first and look down upon the latter, but the fact is that it doesn’t matter which side of the horse we fall off when we’re lying on the ground. Ignoring Jesus’ commands is sin whether one appears more conservative or not.
Likewise, I would say that it is fairly common to run across believers’ who have been neglecting mission and feel convicted about it, but don’t know how to change to be more focused on mission.
The fact is that, conceptually, the process is very simple, even while practically it can get complicated.
Build meaningful relationships with non-believers that lead to opportunities to live and voice the Gospel while trusting the Holy Spirit to do what only He can do.
1. Build meaningful relationships with non-believers
Some people need to be reminded how to make friends…especially if you’re introverted like I am. Strive for “Continuous relationships around a mutual interest over a long period of time…” (credit Tim Sherwood for that phrase…as we sat and talked mission on the deck of the Holloway home one night).
So, you like biking? Join a bike club. Meet people. Go to lunch with them afterward.
So, you read weird books about orcs and dragons? Join an orcs and dragons book club, and meet people.
Your career has a club? National Association of Cubicle Workers? Join. Meet people. Cultivate relationships.
Your kid is on a sports team? Show up and redeem the time by mingling with parents. Invite a family over to dinner.
You get the picture.
2. that lead to opportunities to live and voice the Gospel
After you’ve incarnated in the culture, then it’s time to just abide in Christ, living by convictions, and living the Kingdom and waiting for the Holy Spirit to open doors. Sometimes that means that He lays it on your heart to steer the conversation towards the Gospel. Sometimes He moves the conversation there through the other person.
God is at work drawing His people to Himself long before you get to them. Take comfort. Pray for them. Live as elect exiles…aliens…
Then explain the Gospel.
After you’ve spoken about the Gospel, keep the relationship intact. You’re not selling Amway where you get to just move on, you are preaching the Gospel with your mouth and validating the message with your life.
Don’t throw away the friendship after you’ve “fulfilled” your agenda. Your “agenda” is loving people. Loving people requires sharing the Gospel message, but it also keeps going after the spoken message also. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
3. while trusting the Holy Spirit to do what only He can do.
Ultimately, God has to regenerate the hearts of unbelievers. He does this through the means of faithful Gospel sharing. So share faithfully, but don’t carry the burden of trying to do the impossible. Jesus said that in order to squeeze a camel through the eye of a needle, God has to do the impossible.
If you blow an opportunity, resolve to take it next time. If you stumble on tough questions, remember it’s not about “lofty speech and wisdom” (2 Cor. 2). And if you don’t know the answer to a question….say “I don’t know.”
Jesus built his Church when the Holy Spirit empowered regular folks like fishermen, tax collectors, and the like to boldly live and proclaim the Gospel. He can use you in ways you can’t imagine if you’ll just be obedient and get a little uncomfortable.