One more day and we’ll be in December. All to soon we’ll be saying goodbye to 2010 and hello to 2011.
There’s something about this time of the year that makes me reflective. Call it nostalgia, but I like to look back on things not just for memory’s sake, but because I’ve found that sometimes, looking back helps me to see how far I’ve come. How far God has taken me.
Back to the Beginning
If you look at my missional community now, it’s loud, crazy Friday nights with as many as 22 people showing up at my house, many people find it hard to believe that just a couple of years ago, we had a total of 2 people. Myself, and my co-leader Andre.
A lot of people don’t realize that when we started, aside from a vision to reach college students and young professionals, we didn’t really have much. No regular group, not much of a plan, and certainly not a whole lot of experience leading a missional community. So we did what any Christian would do: We prayed, listened for God’s direction, then prayed some more.
The thing that proved slightly intimidating and challenging was that Dre and I came from a bible study background. In other words, we were used to separating “church” stuff from other parts of our lives. This meant that up until starting this group, we’d usually spent Friday nights attending a young adults bible fellowship at our church, then going to hang out with college friends, most of whom didn’t have a relationship with Christ.
Apart from occasionally inviting them to watch the church production we were in, we didn’t talk much about Jesus to our community. But the more we looked in the Bible, and all it said about taking the gospel to people, we began to realize something had to change. And that something was us.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8
Non-Christians, especially those between the ages of 18 – 35 don’t want to go to church. It is a fact. So inviting them to services or bible studies usually doesn’t result in much success. But here’s the interesting thing. Just because they don’t want to go to those things, doesn’t mean they won’t talk about it. It’s simply a question of who and where.
So in our case, those answers were us, and my house. We left the rest in God’s hands, continued to pray for the group, and before we knew it, the community began to grow before our eyes into what it has become today.
The key to successful missional communities, in my opinion, is taking time to build relationships with those you are reaching out to. This means that besides hanging out together as a group, also taking time to have lunch of coffee with individuals, texting or dropping a facebook message, and always being ready to listen, give a hug, or offer to pray.
I’ve said it before in other posts, building relationships take time. But when I reflected on this year’s happenings, I had to smile when I remember a “breakthrough” moment about a month ago. After watching an episode of a popular TV series, we found the entire group engaging in a spiritual conversation.
Christians in the group shared their experiences with God and reasons why they believed, non-Christians shared their experiences with the church and why they had a hard time accepting Christ. Nobody came to Christ that night, but it opened the door for more conversations, and that is a milestone in itself. After all, when to comes to introducing someone to Jesus, it first begins by being willing to talk about Him.
So here’s my encouragement this week: If you’re doing a missional community, don’t stop! And don’t forget to take time to look back, so you can see how far you’ve come. If you’re thinking about starting one, get to it! People around you need to be reached, and you’re probably the person God wants to use to reach them.
The truth is, sometimes being an ambassador for Christ is simply being willing to step out. So step out, follow God, and watch what He does. You don’t want to miss this.
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20
Justin Christopher12 years ago
Good encouragement for me to keep going in my neighborhood and with my friends. I am praying for a breakthrough.