- Host An Easter Egg Hunt. Get together with your small group or Missional Community and hold a neighborhood Easter Egg hunt. If you have connecting lawns (i.e. without fences) talk to your neighbors on either side of you and make arrangements to hide eggs on their lawns as well. Use mostly plastic eggs with Candy inside, but you could also have some hard boiled eggs as well. Send flyers out to all the neighborhood families with Kids 2 weeks in advance.
- Have an Easter barbecue. On the Saturday before Easter, invite people over for the first barbecue of the year. Have games like washers, Hill Billy golf, beanbag toss, etc. for the kids and adults to play.
- Have an Easter brunch. On Easter invite your neighbors to come over Sunday at noon for Egg bake casserole.
- Create Easter Snack Baskets For Your Neighbors. Especially if your neighbors don’t have children or grand children, they might not have much reason to get Easter Candy. Make a little gift bag for each house on the block and hand them out with a simple message, “Happy Easter from the _________Family.”
Now if you noticed I didn’t say much about overt evangelism in any of the above suggestions. That can be done. Yet, your initial goal might just be to get to know your neighbors and to create a greater sense of community in your neighborhood. Depending on where you are with building trust and friendship with your neighbors, you might want to add some Gospel elements into any of the above suggestions.
- With an Easter egg hunt, you could hide some resurrection eggs amongst the kids. Mark each Resurrection egg with a Cross. When the hunt is over, gather all the kids afterwards and talk about each item that they found. Make sure you trade a great piece of candy for the Resurrection eggs.
- Share an Easter story book or video with the children to share the real meaning of Easter. This is also a great time to give the parents a break by providing them snakes and drinks. Get to know the parents while the kids are busy with the story and supervised in the other room.
- Decorate Easter cookies. Bake plenty of Easter themed sugar cookies. Have the traditional eggs, ducks, and bunnies, but also crosses and any other biblical Easter cookie shapes you can find. Talk about how each one connects to Easter.
- Do an Easter craft. Decorate crosses, foam door hangers, wreaths or create your own resurrection scenes. There are some great resources for doing crafts and telling the Easter message.
- Hand out age appropriate Easter tracts, books or videos.
I hope this helps you take a step towards building relationships with your neighbors and possibly witnessing to the love of Christ. It almost goes without saying, but you can always invite your neighbors or friends to church Good Friday or Sunday Morning. These days are often some of the most compelling and evangelist sermons of the year and often have cool experiential elements as well in many churches. Whatever you do, do it prayerfully and know that God’s working through it.
You might also like:
Picture found here
Millions of people are getting ready to watch the Super Bowl this Sunday. Personally, I’m not a huge football fan. Usually the Super Bowl is the only game I watch all year, but even though I don’t love the game, I love hanging out with people. The commercials and the food are always good as well. Yet can one use the Super Bowl as a chance to witness?
Here are a few things to think about being Missional with the Super Bowl:
- Don’t hijack the Super Bowl. Don’t have a bible study during the half-time show or the commercial breaks. People aren’t going to appreciate a bait and switch, especially if it means missing things something they really enjoy on Super Bowl Sunday.
- Host a Superbowl party and invite some unchurched people to get to know them better. Also invite at least 2 or 3 members of your Missional Community so that relationships are formed between both groups. This will make it easier to invite them to join your MC for the Story later.
- Make it better. If you’ve been invited to a Super Bowl party already, how can you “Bring the better wine” as Jeff Vanderstelf often says? Bring the best food or drinks. Be the biggest helper to the host. How can you make things better for everyone so that people are glad that the Christians showed up at the party?
- Listen to others. As you discuss sports, the commercials, and life, listen to the stories others are telling. They will give you clues to where the Gospel can be spoken into their lives.
- See this Sunday as an opportunity to serve. Ask the host if they need you to show up early to help set up. Be quick to pitch in as needs arise, and stay to help clean when the party is over.
- Pray. If you’re hosting, share a quick prayer of thanks for the food and all your friends. Pray before, during, and after, that God might show his love thorough you and that relationships and trust might be built.
Any other suggestions?
You might also like:
Picture found here along with some great Super Bowl appetizers
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?
Picture found here
Above is a picture of a Web of Relationships. Scripture says we’ve all been put in our own web of relationships so that we might win people there for Jesus. The Apostle Paul says in Acts 17:26-27,
From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.
Paul says that God has placed every person where they are at, and when they would live, so that they might perhaps find the living God and Savior of us all. Paul also says, in Romans 10: 9-17, the only way (outside of supernatural means) that people find God is through others sharing the word of God with them. So then, with these two passages together, I’ve always thought that God has placed each Christian exactly where they are because they have friends, neighbors, coworkers, family, accuatances, etc. that need to know the love of Christ.
Think thorough the following five areas of your life and think of who you introduce to Jesus:
- Vocation – Every Christian is a full time minister. God just route our paychecks through different routes. God has placed you in your job so that you could serve others well through those means, but also so that you might be a witness to others. Who do you know at work that is unchurched? Do you ever get together with them socially? If not, how can you engage them to grow your relationship?
- Location – All of us live in a place surrounded by people,. Even if we live in the country there are people around us. Do you know you’re neighbors? Do you know who are churched or unchurched? If so, who can you start engaging or growing in relationship with? Who can you invite to hang out with other MC members, join you in serving others, or to hear The Story? If you don’t know your neighbors, get to know them. Bring them over some extra soup, invite them to a party, or serve them in some way.
- Recreation – All of us have hobbies that we enjoy. God’s given us all different skills and interests. God has also given us all unique relational connections to others. How can you use your passions and interests to connect with others? Who are you already in relationship with that you can connect to other members of the MC or invite to an event?
- Relations – Who in your family needs to know Jesus? Can you invite them to social gathering of other MC members? Would they enjoy The Story? Would they join us in service projects?
- Frequentation – being a Patron or being a regular somewhere. “Sometimes you want to know where everybody knows your name.” How do people get to know your name, when you take interest in their names and engage in their lives. Where do you frequent? Where are you a regular? Have you stopped to learn the names and stories of the people you see regularly at the park, bank, theatre, market, restaurant, pub, etc? If not, where can you start?
- Walk this week with eyes open to the people in the background of your life. Do you know them?
- Make a commitment to try to meet 3 new people each week and grow in your relationship with one person you have met or already know who is unchurched.
What do you think? Is this list helpful? Why or why not? What do you think of the terms that are used. They’re all real words, yet some, such as frequentation, doesn’t get used all that much these days. I’m interested in your comments and suggestions.
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.
Holy Week, especially Good Friday and Easter, is probably one of the best times to invite someone to a gospel presentation of some sort or to attend church with you.
In our Mother Church, we handed out bible tracts to all of our members. Each tracts simply told the story of Easter and why it is important. In each of those tracts was an invitation to one of our Good Friday or Easter Sunday services. We could have advertised over the radio, in the newspaper, or in mass mailings, but most people give a church a try because someone personally invited them. We encouraged each member of our church to hand that tract and invite to someone they know who was dechurched or unchurched and invite them to come to church with them.
Since we are in the process of starting a church and haven’t started formal services, I encourage you to invite some people to attend church with you at St. Paul. You could use the bible tracts if you’d like, but all of you know the Story and have been trained in telling it. You could share the tract or simply invite them to church. At Some point, be ready to tell the Story. Remember what can happen if you’re not prepared to tell the whole story. Telling them “Christ is risen” is indeed the central message of Christianity and Easter, but if you don’t expand on who he is, why he had to die, and what his resurrection will bring, the Easter Story won’t make much sense.
Again, Follow a Creation –> Fall –> Redemption –> Restoration pattern
Explain the God Created everything Good. The world was as it should be. Everything was perfect. We lived with God, others, ourselves, and creation in perfect relationships.
In the Fall, humanity joined in the rebellion of God’s enemy. They rejected God’s love and protection and sought life elsewhere. Their rebellion, called sin, broke all the perfect relationships we had at Creation. All creation began breaking down. Pain, suffering, natural disasters, war, violence, sickness, and death were all a result of our rebellion.
Yet God sent His Son into the World to Redeem all of Creation. He loved us so much that he was willing to carry all the burdens of our rebellion and to experience the worst of it as he died an excruciating death on the cross. He died the death we deserved and we receive an exchange. He took on our guilt on the cross so that we could take on his right standing with God. We are considered innocent because Jesus stood in our place and took our punishment as the guilty party. Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morning and proved he had defeated death. Now we have the assurance that because He lives, we’ll live also.
Jesus ascended back to His Father in Heaven, but before He left he gave us His Spirit. Through His Holy Spirit, Jesus now dwells in us. He has begun to restore us to the people we were meant to be as we have a new relationship with God and he has chosen to use us to start restoring in part the world around us as we display God’s goodness in our actions and share the good news of what He’s done with others. One day, God will bring all things to a full restoration. All the bad things of this world will no longer be remembered. God will restore all things as they were meant to be. The world will be perfect again. We’ll live in pleasure forever in the presence of God.
We all have this great hope. Make sure you share it with someone this Easter.
Over the last few months, our core team has done a lot of training and talking about Missional Communities, Planting a Church, and reaching out to the lost. Yet there’s a real danger in this, that we might continue simply talking and mistake it as faithfulness. We need to not only talk about the faith and about mission, but live it as well.
Watch the following video and consider the questions below:
- Have you given into this same theory of the Christian life?
- How can we keep ourselves from falling into living as a theorist rather than a practitioner?
Mike Breen and Alex Absalom talk about the process of building a credible gospel witness and growing your MC in their Launching Missional Communities: a field guide. They speak of five stages of growing an MC, Sowing, Sowing, Sowing, Reaping, Keeping. Below is an illustration of each stage similar to what they present, along with their descriptions of each stage.
As we plant this church and begin our Missional Communities, we will all need to be involved in building relationships with the unchurched. Yet, we do the work together. Your job as an individual probably wont be to bring the person through each of those stages. Rather, each individual will probably be more gifted and inclined to be involved at certain stages. In each case, the job of each member will be to introduce these unchurched people to other members of the MC who can partner with you in loving on, witnessing, and sharing life with them.
Think again of the people who are in your life.
- Who is in your life that needs Christ?
- How are you strengthening your relationship with them? When was the last time you had dinner with them, hung out with them, invited them to a social gathering or event?
- Are you praying for them?
Happy New Year! As we enter into a new year many of us reflect upon our accomplishments and failures of the last year. We then look forward to the coming year and decide how we need to change. We envision a better “me” and then set our goals or resolutions to make that prefered future come to pass.
Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions? If so are they in alignment with God’s purposes for your life?
People say the greatest question is “What is the purpose or meaning of life.” Well that is not much of a mystery when you read the word of the one who created all life. God has created you to be in a perfect relationship with Him and to reflect his image to all creation. (Gen 21:26-28). Yet, we didn’t do that. Sin entered the world and broke the image of God in us and we separated ourselves from Him in our rebellion. Yet since then, God’s will has been to restore what is lost.
- According to the bible God’s first desire is that you believe in him (Jn 6:29). He wants a restored relationship with you. The beautiful this is that God did the work to make this happen. When we were still helpless, Christ died for us. We are justified freely by his grace. We are his children, and so we should desire to know our Heavenly father more and more. Make it your first priority, this year, to read God’s word, meet and learn with God’s people through a church, and to pray or talk to God daily.
- Secondly, God has also created you to love Him with all that you are and to love you neighbors as yourself (Matthew 22:34-40). He wants you to be in a good a loving relationship with both God and everyone else. This is part of God’s work in recreating the image of God in each of us. As we hear the Gospel, God’s Spirit transforms us and teaches us to say no to ungodly things, and yes to God’s purposes. So then, we desire to reflect God’s love to one another. This year, focus on loving others as God showed such great love to us through sending his Son into this world to save us. (1 John 4:10).
- Lastly, God has created you to share God’s image again by being a witness to who God is and what he’s done (Matthew 28:16-20). You can love others in many ways, but if you never share with them how they can reconnect with their true father and creator, if you don’t share with the way to eternal life, you aren’t all that loving at all.
Have you made your New Year’s Resolution? If so, is it aligned with God’s purpose? This year may we only resolve to know God more and to let him transform us into his image to be used for His purposes. This is the way to the best people we can be. This is the only way to make what we do in this coming year and our lives count forever.
Sometimes a commercial, song, or film can really capture a great idea. Check out this Coke add below.
- What kind of community or gathering does the video depict? Is it small or large? Is it inclusive or exclusive?
- How does the community from the commercial reflect the yearning of the human heart? How close is it to the community of the church?
- How effective would the Christian message be if Christians blessed their neighbors and acquaintances with such a community?
- How often do you gather with the people who you know? Have you held a “Bridging Event,” a community building party for the express purpose of getting to know the friends and acquaintances of your friends?
How can you create this community?
- Consider throwing a party, only don’t invite your closest friends. Instead, invite mainly acquaintances and people you barely know. Maybe ask them to bring someone else. Focus on getting to know everyone better and connecting people together
- Consider working with a few friends or neighbors to throw a party. Have each person invite people they know well and not so well. Ask those people to invite a friend as well. Again, focus on getting to know people and connecting others.
In either case, You’ll be bringing the better wine. You’ll be blessing those around you. This might establish or strengthen relationships. It might prepare the way for later chances to share the gospel.
For my Core Group, for next time read the Gospel-Centred Life Chapter 9, Decisions.
On the night in which Jesus was betrayed, he exorted his followers to live in a community of live. He said,
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
We’re called to be a community that is exemplified by love, and that witnesses through that that community to the love of Christ.
Watch this short video about this man’s attempts to reach others:
- What was his big mistake in planning his large event?
- What eventually built relationships that led to sharing the Gospel?
- Where are people already meeting in your community? How can you engage people in those venues for the sake of buidling relationships?
- What is keeping you from going there? How can other Christian help you
- How does working together with other Christians make evangelism and community building easier?
- What are your Christmas plans? Can you help hold a Christmas party for your neighborhood or social group? Are their already Christmas parties going on that you can “bring the better wine” to?
For my Core group, Read the Gospel-Centred Life Chapter 8, Look Forward to Eternity.
Check out this site as a great resource for reaching out to your neighbors