Jesus said to “Go!” and make disciples. But where do we go?
A big issue in contemporary church is that most Christians only interact with other church people. If you are a follower of Jesus, how many friends do you have who don’t go to church? Do you need to change that?
I recently did a blog, see below, on how to have spiritual conversations. But where do we go? How do we position ourselves? Well, you go explore your community in new and exciting ways.
If you are a pastor, your temptation is to sit in your office and wait for people to come. Those people would be church people, of course. Not too many unchurched people are going to the pastor’s office.
I am familiar with a senior pastor who would “work” late into the evenings at the church. When the associate pastor wasn’t there, he would turn on the lights in that pastor’s office so that people driving by would be impressed by how hard the pastors “worked.”
And, to be fair, they did work hard. But not at the job God called them to do. Pastors are called to the great commission and equipping others for ministry. Yes, that’s not what most pastors and church people believe. But it is what Jesus says. So I’m sticking with Jesus.
Okay, now that we have you out of your office, where to? There are no set answers. You are the expert of your community. But here are some questions to help you find where God is calling.
- Pray: Dear God, where do you want me to go?
- Who are you looking for? Who are the people God is calling you to connect with in your community?
- Where do those people hang out? Are they at coffee shops, cafes, bars, parks, etc.?
- What are your own passions? Where can you bring integrity rather than being a stalker?
- What are groups that you might join which don’t require a lot of time in service? (You already have a service oriented job which demands your focus.)
- What are the community opportunities like the Chamber of Commerce, concerts, plays, etc.?
You don’t have to be an extrovert. Don’t use your shyness and being uncomfortable as an excuse for not sharing your faith. Such things didn’t work for the likes of Moses and Jeremiah. Really, what is more fun than learning the life story of another person and becoming a part of their story as they become a part of yours?
So be gentle with yourself. Every new conversation is one you wouldn’t have had had you been sitting in your office. Cherish it. Celebrate it. Build off of it. Pray for God to bless it and lead you to wherever the next person awaits you. Evaluate your community, and then “Go!”
So where are the best places you have found for encountering people? Leave your comments below.
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I pastor a church in CT and I have found (much to my surprise) that our town is looking for pastors and churches to be involved, but few churches/pastors seem to be listening to their requests. I started by asking folks at the Chamber of Commerce what were the active community groups in town and began visiting those groups (Rotary, Lions Club etc.) to see if it would be a good fit. Then, I found out where and how I could meet people in Social Services, the Town Manager, town politicians etc. and I simply began showing up and slowly introducing myself and our church and letting people know we were eager to help the town (and them) where we could. I also had smaller children, so I volunteered at school and on sports teams. All of those simple investments of time led to some incredible connections and to a reputation in town that our church (and their pastor!) actually do care and want to help. I now serve on the FD as the Chaplain and on two town committees where the time commitment is low, but the connections are important and now I regularly receive requests to pray at town events, parades and memorial services. Sadly, it seems like few other pastors are doing this.
And one last comment, after I met the Town Manager at a social event, I called and asked him out to lunch to “get his thoughts” on what the greatest strengths and weaknesses were. I made it clear I was buying. We met, had a great time, and he told me that he had been on the job for 3 years and no other pastor had even called him since he had moved into town with his family. We now meet about once a month and he just starting attending our church.
Chris, thanks for awesome comments. It is great to hear how one pastor is living out the sense of call to the Great Commission. May God bless your efforts in profound ways as you are a powerful witness to others.
In our neighborhood (76K in a Chicago burb) people always seem eager and pleasantly surprised to have a pastor in their group. While my involvement in the Chamber and other groups doesn’t always lead to butts in chairs, like God’s word, community goodwill never returns void.
Good for you, Ed! Thanks for your great comment and the ministry you do in the name of Jesus. God bless your efforts!
One of the best places to meet people is at their front door, just after they move in. They appreciate being welcomed to the neighborhood and they enjoy a simple gift of fresh bread or flowers. Then when you leave them with a copy of one of the Gospels and an invitation to visit your congregation,you have opened a door for the Holy Spirit to enter.
Thanks, Charles. More great tips on how to “Go” into our world. I assume you subscribe to a service that gives you addresses for people when they move into your community. Word on the street is that connecting with new movers works again since so many churches quit doing it when everyone was doing it.