In this post, Daniel Simmons, our North Raleigh Campus pastor, has some great, practical ideas for living missionally.
God has put every person that is reading this in positions of influence. We all have family members, neighbors, or co-workers that we, if given the opportunity, would love to tell about Christianity. However, many people never talk about their faith beyond, “I go to this church” or “I am a Christian.” On top of that, it is easy to get wrapped up in “church friendships” to the point that no meaningful non-Christian relationships exist. How do we move from simply “our faith” to actually engaging in meaningful evangelism? In a world where there is always more to do than time to do it, what are some practical ways to build solid friendships with non-Christians?
Below is a list of very practical ways to begin to do this. One of the keys in building relationships is that it is primarily a proactive thing, not a reactive one. We should be the initiators: praying proactively and then putting ourselves in positions to make these types of relationships.
Below I have put some very practical ways to build relationships with people that God has put in your range of influence. I hope it helps. Also, here is a website that also has some great ideas on it: http://theresurgence.com/2009/05/04/simplified-missional-living
Prayer: We need to start by recognizing that people come to know God because of God. So, while we do play a part, we are ambassadors and messengers (II Corinthians 5:20), God is the one who saves (Acts 16:14, II Timothy 2:24-26, Ezekiel 11:19, and Ephesians 2:8-9). Since this is true, we need to be praying vigorously that He moves in their hearts and brings them to repentance. As Jesus looked at the crowds, He felt compassion, and said to His disciples, “Beseech the Lord of the Harvest.”
Reading about Evangelism: There are some really great books about evangelism out there. Here are a few I’d recommend: The Master Plan of Evangelism, Becoming a Contagious Christian, and The Heart of Evangelism. The benefit of reading books on evangelism is to remember and see why we evangelize, to build vision for evangelism, to kindle a fire in our hearts to spread the gospel, and to learn methods to effectively share the gospel.
Practical ways to begin building solid relationships:
Eat with Non-Christians: Whether it is lunch with co-workers or dinner at a dining room table, dinner is a place where we still get to know one another well. Eating consistently with someone is a sign of friendship, and it almost always gives you an hour to joke, talk, and discuss things going on in your lives.
Throw Parties: People love parties. Whenever a neighborhood has one, people walk away thinking, “We should do that more often.” Why are we as the church not leading that in our communities? Jesus was a fixture at parties in the NT. Parties allow us to open our doors to many different kinds of people, give us a chance to practice hospitality, and allow for a casual atmosphere of conversation and relationship building. One of our campus pastors recently found out that his HOA would give $75 for hosting 3 or more families. Maybe yours would too!
Community playgrounds, pools, and dog parks: There is almost nothing that makes it easier to break the ice with people you don’t know than if you both have kids or dogs. That makes being a regular at play grounds, community pools, and dog parks an easy place to start up conversations. On top of that, you will be modeling in front of your children how to reach out to new people.
Join Neighborhood Committees: Relationships easily and naturally occur when you and another person care for the same thing, and almost all people care about their homes and their neighborhoods. I recently talked to a man who joined his neighborhood committee, and he now has friendships with people he had not been able to even have a descent conversation with.
Play Groups (mom’s): All mom’s need adult conversation and relationships. What a great way to connect with and build friendships with other women in the neighborhood. What a great environment to invite other women to who you may meet through doing community ministry!
Be a regular, meet the other regulars: This one is two-fold. You see someone regularly, and you support something that is very important to them. Ask questions, remember names, bring your friends, and pretty soon, the people who work there will expect to see you and will be glad you are there. Also, there will be other people that after seeing you there regularly will know that you share that in common. It makes a point of contact that leads to conversation.
Be Outside: This simply puts you in a position where you can see and talk to your neighbors. Work in your yard, play with your kids outside, or sit on your porch or in your driveway. This is how almost everyone meets and builds friendships with neighbors. The more you are outside, the more informal touches you can get with the people that live around you.
Volunteer with Non-Profits: Non-profits are a great way to serve your city and to meet people that you would never have a chance to meet.
Participate in City Events: There are many festivals and events the city of Durham/Raleigh put on. Check this out for Raleigh http://bit.ly/kSLMoP and this for Durham http://bit.ly/mUK0Kp. What great places to go with the heart and mind of a missionary!
Hobbies with people: Do what you love with people. Love to run? Join a running group. Love to read? There are book clubs that would love to have you. Do you go to a gym? Don’t just nod and walk past the people you see every day. Talk to them and begin to work out together. Hobbies give people a common ground to start building friendships.