I have a confession to make.
I HATE doing the dishes.

I’ll cook you anything you want to eat, whip up salads, bake desserts, but dishes? Forget it. There is a reason why God inspired the invention of the dishwasher, and I for one am all for making full use of that contraption.

Yet most, if not all Fridays, a group of people flood into my house, play loud, stay late, and when it’s all over and done with, I am left with a once beautifully arranged living room in complete disarray, and a pile of dishes in my double sink that leaves me shuddering just looking at it.

Why, you might ask, do I subject myself to this seemingly masochistic torture week after week? The answer is simple – this is my community and this is how I serve.

Stop looking for your mission field – you’re already standing in it.

The word mission conjures up interesting images for many Christians. We hear the word “mission” and immediately think of people in ravaged third world countries like Africa and Cambodia, children without clothes, shoes, food or running water. The poor and needy, desperate for rescue, hungry for a God who can save.

While the above is true, the reality is that a mission field isn’t just some distant faraway land with terrible living conditions. It’s anywhere there are people without a relationship with Christ. Jesus himself said, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Translation? Start with your city, then the region, then the rest of the world.

Unless you’re someone who only interacts with other Christians on a daily basis (also known as the dreaded Christian bubble, but that’s another topic for another post), you probably know someone who needs Jesus. So what are you waiting for? Quit looking around for the pastor, start talking!

Think Justice League, not Lone Ranger.

We have an interesting mix on Fridays. Some don’t know God, others are struggling and questioning, and some are consistently journeying with Christ. Yet the one thing they all share is the attachment to this group. Sometimes I’m not sure how I’m supposed to reach and love everyone. Fortunately, I’m not in it alone. I’ve got some of my best friends working right alongside me.

I think Jesus hit it on the nail when He sent his disciples out in pairs (Mark 6:7), and I think He did that for a couple of reasons. Partnering in mission helps keep us focused. Having others around to pray with me for our community reminds me that there’s more at stake that just hanging out and goofing off. It also means that if one of us has a down week, we rally round, support and encourage, and continue on mission.

Our job is to love, NOT convert.

If you go into a community with the intent of converting people, you are setting yourself up for failure. God is the only one with the power to move to person’s heart, and if you try to take that on, you might end up just getting in the way. Jesus didn’t say “convert the masses,” on the contrary, He said, “love others as I have loved you.” (John 13:34)

I’ll be honest. Being missional is not easy. Loving other people takes hard work. It requires commitment, time, effort and investment. But despite challenges, the joy that comes from seeing people we care about touched by God is like no other. That we get to be used by Him and participate in this process is a privilege and one that I would never give up.

So what am I saying? You are where you are, not by accident, but for specific purpose. There are people in your life only you can reach, and you shouldn’t be afraid to step out into that. Life is more than just growing up, getting a job and getting married. It’s about reaching others with the love that God so graciously bestowed upon us.

So I still don’t like doing dishes. But on Fridays, even if the pile horrifies me, I know that every dirty dish represents someone who has come into this community and left knowing that they are loved, they are accepted, and they matter.

And suddenly, the dishes don’t seem like such a big deal anymore.