Missional Focus Week – Day 4

Here is some more fodder for your missional imagining adapted from Tim Keller’s book, Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 283-84.

He says that mission for a believer is a matter of everyday life – of developing nonsuperficial relationships with your neighbors, colleagues, and others in the city. Here are some practical, simple ways to do this:

Engaging neighbors

· Take regular walks in your neighborhood to meet others who are out and about. Keep a regular schedule. Go to the same places at the same time for groceries, haircuts, coffee, shopping. This is one of the main ways you get to know those who live geographically near.

· Find ways to get to know others in your building or neighborhood – through a common laundry area, at resident meetings, and in numerous other ways.

· Find an avocation or hobby you can do with others in the city. For example, don’t form a Christian backpacking club; join an existing one.

· Look for ways to play organized amateur sports in the city.

· Volunteer alongside other neighborhood residents at nonprofits and with other programs.

· If you have children, be involved at the school and get to know other parents.

· Participate in city events – fund-raisers, festivals, cleanups, summer shows, concerts, etc.

· Serve your neighborhood. Visit the community board meeting. Pick up litter regularly. Get involved in neighborhood associations. Find individual neighbors (especially elderly ones) and seek ways of serving them.

· Be hospitable to neighbors – when and where appropriate, invite them over for a meal or a movie, etc.

Engaging colleagues, coworkers, and friends

· Do recreational activities with them – watch sports (live or on TV at home or in a nightspot); go to a theater show, museum exhibit, art gallery exhibit, etc.

· Invite them to join a sports league with you.

· Invite them to work out with you at a gym.

· Put together a movie night.

· Go out of your way to eat with them as often as possible. Invite people over for a meal in your apartment or home or just invite them out to try a new restaurant.

· Plan trips or outings – a trip to a beach, a historical site, etc.

· If the person has a skill or interest, ask them (sincerely!) to educate you.

· Organize a discussion group on something – politics, books, etc., inviting mainly non-Christians.

And remember: part of being engaged is to be willing to identify as a believer. Engaging relationally without doing so could be called “the blend-in approach.” Many Christians live in a social world of non-Christians but don’t think much about their friends’ spiritual needs, nor do they identify themselves as believers to their friends. Their basic drive is to be accepted, to avoid being perceived as different – but this approach fails to integrate a person’s faith with his or her relationships in the world. Moreover, if you only briefly admit to being a Christian, but never share the gospel, you can perpetuate the false notion that being a Christian is simply being a nice, moral person.

Keep brainstorming ways that we can engage the lost, especially those living in the UIC Area, with the gospel…