This is a great (and short) video from Caesar Kalinowski on two ways of viewing mission: Proactive vs. Reactive Mission.
What is your Missional Community’s Proactive Mission?
What reactive Mission opportunities is God revealing to you as well?
Go to the GCM Collective’s website and check out the great illustration that Seth McBee made to illustrate the difference between proactive and reactive mission.
In luke 10, Jesus sends out the Seventy Two into the villages of the surrounding countryside to prepare people to meet Jesus. Before they go, Jesus gives them some instructions on what they should do. Remember how he sent them out? What was his first instruction? He sent them out, two-by-two.
It’s odd that Jesus sent out the Seventy Two in pairs to share the gospel, yet we usually see witnessing and evangelism as a solo experience. We see sharing the faith as our duty or burden that is seems so difficult that we never actually do it, or are not very successful at it. Maybe the reason we aren’t great in witnessing to Christ is that we try to go it alone.
Our Missional Communities are not just support groups for individual missionaries trying to accomplish their individual missions, but they are a group of people who are called to be on mission together. In our MCs, our most successful witnesses are ones that don’t go it alone but invite other Christians on the mission. The sending of the Seventy two shows us that this was Christ’s intention. Now we don’t necessarily need to split into groups of two in order to reach people successfully. But we increase our chances as we reach out in groups.
Some of our members continually try to reach their friends and coworkers and eventually invite them to come to participate in the Story. Yet, they end up not getting very far. I often wonder if it is simply too intimidating to come to a get-together when you only know one or two people who will be there. It gets even more intimidating when you add religion to the evening.
What if we introduced everybody we were trying to reach to other members of our MC and church? Some of our members do this. They invite the people their trying to reach, and another Christian couple from their MC, out to dinner a couple times. Others throw parties regularly and invite their MC members and also the people they are trying to reach so everyone gets to know each other over a number of months. Then when it comes time to invite them to the Story, they already know a number of people there and aren’t afraid of not knowing anyone.
Don’t go it alone. Witness with the help of others.
Consider the following questions and challenges:
- Who have you been trying to reach recently?
- Have you introduced them to other member of your MC?
- Who in your MC would connect well with the person/people you want to reach?
- How can you introduce them? What kind of event, party, dinner, hang out, or entertainment would both parties feel comfortable in?
- Make plans to introduce these two groups in the next 2 weeks?
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Christmas is one of the most magical times of the year. While there are a lot of distractions from its true meaning, Christmas is still a great time to share the message of God’s love through Jesus Christ. Below are seven ways you can reach out to others and show God’s love this Christmas.
1. Give gifts to people who really need help.
- There are scores of organizations that help you give a Christmas Gift in the name of Christ. We do a giving tree at our church and collect toys and presents that have been request from poor parent’s for their children. Toys for Tots is another great tradition. Let you kids help and see that Christmas isn’t about them and their presents but giving gifts because of the gift we’ve receive of Jesus and the eternal life He brings.
- Give a Life-Giving Gift because of the Life-Giving Gift we’ve received in Jesus. World Vision and Living Water are great places you can give life-giving gifts of water, food, or animals to improve the lives of children across the world. You can give a gift on behalf of another in addition or in replacement of a gift you would normally give.
- Is there someone in your neighborhood or at work that is in need of something this Christmas? Don’t just spend money to spend money, but if you know a need, try to fill it.
2. Give Small gifts to your Neighbors
- My wife loves to bake. Every year, she makes a number of goody sacks to hand out to our neighbors. Then we go door-to-door and hand them out to people. It’s a great reason to knock on a neighbor’s door and spend a couple of minutes getting to know them a little better. We just had a neighborhood bonfire last month. When we invited one neighbor, she immediately asked if we were the people who came over and gave them cookies two years before. She still remembered and it seemed to make it easier for her to join us because of the groundwork that was laid two years before.
3. Invite someone to your Christmas Celebration
- At certain times in our lives, we know people who don’t have anywhere to go on Christmas. Some just don’t have family. Some Just live too far away for their families to get together. Is there someone like this in your life, Maybe a college student or an elderly neighbor? If so, make sure you invite them to join your family for Christmas. You don’t have to invite everyone, but if you see someone who will be alone, invite them into your family for that evening.
- We have a Christmas Celebration every year. Our Church has a few Church services every Christmas Eve. We have people over between 5 and 7 that night. We invite anyone we know to come over for some chilli, soup, and a lot of Christmas snacks and beverages. We invite friends who volunteer and have to be at each church service that night so that they have somewhere to go to kill some time. But we also invite some neighbors to stop by if they like. Surprisingly, a number of them do. We then reserve Christmas Morning just for family.
4. Bless those who can’t celebrate Christmas
- Think about the Firefighters, Police officers, Gas Station Attendant who have to work on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. Bring them a gift basket of donuts or Christmas goodies to bless them when they are probably feeling low from being away from their families. Maybe even leave them a Christmas card and a written message about Jesus’ birth. For more check out this article.
5. Rehearse the Christmas Story
- Peter says we must always be ready to give an answer for our faith anytime someone asks (1 pe 3:15). At Christmas time, especially if you’re showing love in unexpected ways, people are going to ask you why. We have to be ready. In our Church plant we are always rehearsing the Gospel Story through the major themes of Creation -> Fall -> Redemption -> Restoration. It’s real easy to be ready to tell a shortened version of this story with an emphasis on the expectation of the messiah and the birth of Jesus. Don’t just tell people “This is the day Jesus was born.” Explain to them the whole story and why Jesus’ birth is important. If not, people won’t understand the message.
6. Invite people to your Christmas Church Services
- As Christians, we should be in the habit of inviting people into our lives before we invite them to church. Yet if there is any day when unchurched or dechurch people are willing to go to church it might be Christmas. During the Christmas season, many are hurting and longing for something more. They’re searching to reclaim some magic in the world. If you know someone who isn’t going to be going to church, invite them to join you. Pick them up, sit together, and talk about the message, the music, and anything else that can further the conversation.
7. Gather your MC and sing Christmas Carols
- I was hesitant to put this one down. I’m not sure if caroling is really helpful in the Christian witness. It seems a bit intrusive like cold-call evangelism. Yet, I do believe this could be done right. I think elderly people would be more accepting of this gift of music. It’s something they experienced or participated in as a youth and is likely to bring warm feelings of nostalgia. The other group I think would benefit this is if you went caroling at people’s homes that you’ve been sharing life with through your Missional Community. If enough ground work has already been laid, Caroling could be a great way to sing the Gospel message and show love, yet not seem too strange.
Halloween is a great time to meet new neighbors. If you have kids, you have the permission to go door-to-door and introduce yourself to your neighbors. If you don’t have kids, many neighbors will come to you seeking sugary candy. Yet you can give them something much better, friendship. How can you bless your neighbors this Halloween?
Here are some thoughts on how you can make Halloween serve Gospel purposes of getting to know your neighbors:
- In the week before, Have a Community Pumpkin carving party at your house. You can even have all the kids judge the pumpkins and give out prizes. Have some games, snacks, and beverages available.
- Halloween is important to kids. Make sure to hand out candy. Turn some lights on so kids know you’re home and so parents know you’re welcoming.
- Buy some great candy and don’t be stingy with it. When I was a kid, I knew who gave out the full candy bars and who gave out the grandma candy that tasted like rotten peanut butter.
- Make a big deal about the kids’ costumes. Have fun and make them feel special when they come to your door.
- In many places, including Jackson this year, it’s going to be pretty cold. What can you do to help freezing parents and children warm up? How about free hot Apple Cider or Hot Chocolate? In addition to free drinks, do you have a portable bonfire pit? Set it up in the front yard and invite people to sit down and warm up before they move on to the next street.
- Why just hand out Candy? Give them a little toy from a dollar or party store. Glowsticks or bracelets would be a great hit!
- Learn the names of any of the adults that come by. Ask them where they live and make a little small talk. Try to remember the names of any kids that you see playing in the neighborhood as well. Write down the names and addresses of the people you meet so you can remember them later.
- How are you going to follow-up with the people you meet? How about handing out invitations and having a Halloween after party for the Adults to have some festive adult beverages and snacks? Or, how about inviting people to a party on the following weekend?
- Create a community facebook page and hand out invitations to everyone who comes by.
- Team up with the neighbors you know. Be the really fun groups of houses so that you draw more people down your street.
- Go trick or treating with at least one other family and pick up more in your group as you walk along. It’s a great opportunity to get to know mom’s and dads better as you walk along.
- Decorate a little so kids think your house looks fun and inviting. Don’t go overboard and get too scary or parents might not be happy and the kids might not stick around long enough to talk.
- Invite your Missional Communities to join you in handing out candy, going trick-or-treating, or anything you’re doing on Halloween. You’ll have a greater chance of connecting with other neighbors with a couple more people by your side.
No matter what you do this Halloween, pray that God might open doors to good conversations and friendships and that, through His Spirit, they people might see a hint of God’s Kingdom and His love.
If you have any other ideas, feel free to comment below.
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Two of our Missional Communities are starting the Story-Formed Way this week. The Story-Formed Way is a 10 week discipleship course consisting of interactive storytelling and dialogue through the major narratives of Scripture from Creation to Restoration. Below are some tips on how to prepare to lead the Story.
At the beginning of the lesson, there are big picture points that focus on the gist of what the lesson is leading towards. That is for your knowledge as the leader. Read through the Story out loud multiple times. Learn it. Ingest it. Meditate on it. Think of the tone in which the characters would be speaking. You want to story tell, not just read a paper to people. However, remember that the Story has been crafted to accurately convey the biblical story. Don’t change the words. If you misspeak, reiterate what you meant by saying what was written.
- To prepare the manuscript I’m telling the story from, I find it helpful to underline and highlight places where I want to emphasize something important that appears in the dialogue.
- Look through the questions at the end and try to answer them yourself. If there are no answers provided for a specific question, make sure you at least think of what that answer could be.
- When it comes to the dialogue, I look over the questions before hand and try to answer them myself. The leaders guide provides answers, but I try to pinpoint the key answers. If I can think of any others, sometimes I write them down as well. If the question is difficult or unclear, sometimes I’ll write down an alternative question just in case people don’t understand the question that was written
Setting the Tone
- The contents of the bible were originally told, retold, and passed down from person to person, from generation to generation, orally. Ancient Jews, as well as the church up until the 16th century, all learned the biblical story communally through story telling. This didn’t just leave them to try to make sense of the bible on their own, but they had a whole community to help interpret the bible and to retain the accuracy of its telling and interpretation. Two-thirds of the Bible is a narrative. One of the benefits of learning the narrative is that it opens the door to understand everything else in scripture.
- I often relate the Story to being a smorgasbord or a potluck. If only one or two people bring a dish, it isn’t much fun. Likewise, every voice is valuable and contributes. Our discussion is a smorgasbord. The more variety of voices and perspective, the greater the feast.
- Ancient Jewish people would say that there are “70 Facets” to the Bible. It was like a giant diamond with so many facets that at every turn you get a slightly different perspective and insight into the diamond. Likewise, One can study the biblical story over a lifetime and still learn new insights. It’s like an onion. You can keep pulling it back and find new layers of meaning. Each person present is like that facet of a diamond that the Holy Spirit uses to teach us of the beauty within God’s Story.
- Relax and have fun. Make sure that the tone matches the other activities done that night so it seems natural. We want sharing God’s word and applying the Gospel to each other’s lives to feel natural so when we gather officially to do that, we want it to seem like a very natural thing as well.
- After the first week, When you start the lesson, you can ask if someone is willing to review the last lesson or the whole story leading up to the current one. This reinforces the themes of the greater Story of God so that they are more easily connected to the story you are covering. Once the full story is remembered, then you go into telling that night’s story.
Telling the Story (This should take 2-5 minutes)
- When telling the story, I find it helpful to have already underlined or highlighted the most important phrases that are brought up in the following dialogue. This helps me know what is most important, and also helps me keep track of my place so I can look at people when I speak. I practice the story 3-5 times. I try to get to the point where I’m not reading the story, but speaking it and using the manuscript to keep me on track. The Key is to Stick to the Story.
- Stick to the Narrative. Don’t interpret on the fly. Don’t add things from future stories.
- This is where the Story begins to come alive and shape your community. The purpose of the dialogue is to help draw out the truths from the Story.
- Remember set up the expectation that all answers given are to come from the night’s narrative or a past narrative in the greater Story. If someone tries to quote Luther, Calvin, Billy Graham, Buddha, or Deepak Chopra, Joyce Meyer, etc, say, “I don’t remember them being in the story” or “where did you hear that in the story.” This is helpful even when someone starts saying, “I don’t think God would do that!” or “I think God is more like this…” We’re here to learn the biblical story and his truth as the story is interpreted through the individuals of the group.
- If you’re leading the dialogue, you’re job is to keep discussion going through asking questions. It is NOT you duty to answer the questions or to preach. The Holy Spirit works through hearing the word of God. The Spirit will work through the people present to lead the group into the truth.
- It is not necessary that you ask all the questions. There’s usually too many questions to focus on. The questions are meant to spur discussion. Remember, this isn’t a Q and A session. The best questions are often, “What did we learn about God in this story?” “What did we learn about human beings?”
- Make sure you spend some time near the end on some life –application questions. If the group hasn’t already naturally gone there with some of the previous questions, ask questions about how the story parallels their lives, informs their lives, is seen in aspects of their life, etc.