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6 Ways to be Missional with the Super Bowl

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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:

4 Ways to be Missional this Easter

7 Ways to be Missional this Christmas

9 Ways to be Missional this Thanksgiving

13 Ways to be Missional this Halloween

Picture found here along with some great Super Bowl appetizers

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Who Has God Put Into Your Life That Needs Jesus?

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?

Action Steps

  1. Walk this week with eyes open to the people in the background of your life.  Do you know them?
  2. 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.

9 Ways To Be Missional This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is two days away.  How are you going to use this day to show the love of God.  Below are 9 ways to be missional this Thanksgiving:

  1. Thanksgiving is a day of abundance.  We celebrate God’s provision for all we need for our body and life.  We celebrate this with the greatest amount of food and we celebrate with family.  Yet not everyone has family they can celebrate with.  Is there a neighbor or coworker that doesn’t have anywhere to go this year?  Jesus loved the unloved and the unlovable.  Practice Christian hospitality and invite them over.
  2. Make Thanksgiving a time of remembering the love of God.  Tell each person at the Table why you thank God that He has placed them in your life.
  3. Rather than give a quick prayer before the meal, ask people what they are thankful for this year and encorporate what they say into your prayer.
  4. Focus on the things that matter.  Thanksgiving can sometime become a time when you have to sit and talk to that relative with allegiances to different political parties or a different football team.  Don’t use this as an opportunity to start a fight.  Rather, make every conversation an opportunity to show God’s love.
  5. Don’t try to be a perfect host.  Remember, God is Gracious so you don’t have to prove yourself and God is Glorious so you don’t have to fear what others think.  Be yourself, love others, and let God control the way other’s look at you.
  6. One of the best times to grow relationships is around a dinner table, and we spend a long time around the table on Thanksgiving.  Make the most of your time with others.  Get to know them better.  Ask them about their jobs, their past, their kids, their hopes so you’ll get to know where the Gospel can speak into their lives.
  7. Get to know the Kids around the table as well.  They can often be overlooked or excluded in conversation.  Love on them and let them know your house is good place to be at.
  8. Not everyone likes sports, but if you have some people who want to watch the football game, turn it on.  Sit down and enjoy their company and get to know them better.
  9. In my house, we end up always cooking way too much and have more leftovers than what we’ll want to eat for the rest of the week.  Make sure you send some food home with your guests.  Do you have any neighbors who don’t cook?  Send them over a plate if they didn’t join you for thanksgiving.

You might also like:

4 Ways to be Missional this Easter

6 Ways to be Missional with the Super Bowl

7 Ways to be Missional this Christmas

13 Ways to be Missional this Halloween

Picture found here

Missional Training # 19 – Sharing the Gospel…with a little help from your friends

Sharing the Gospel or inviting someone to a church service, missional community, or a small group can often feel intimidating.  Christians all know that we’re called to make disciples of all nations, to be witnesses of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.   We know we’re called to be the light of the world, the salt of the earth.  We even want to be effective at this mission.  We want to see or family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers know the life and love they can have in Jesus. Yet, at times we don’t know where to begin.

We have all  seen or heard about a lot of high-pressure evangelist encounters that seemed more like an argument than a sharing of the hope we have in Jesus.  Maybe you’ve actually been the one pressuring someone else to come to become a Christian.   Or maybe you’ve sat there and heard a friend or coworker vent about someone who was “trying to push their faith” on them.   Perhaps, you were just minding your own business and some well-meaning Christians kept pushing tracts in your face, forcing conversation, and if you, a fellow Christian, felt uncomfortable.  We know we don’t want to reach out that way, but we are left unsure of how to go about it.

For most of us we have one big problem with evangelism.  We fear others.  We’re afraid of what people might think of us after we mention the name of Jesus or the word, Church.  We are afraid of what might happen when we step on a stranger’s door step.  We’re even a bit afraid that they might view us as that angry judgmental person.  Perhaps we have all these fears and negative emotions because we view evangelism in the wrong way.

Tim Chester and Steve Timmis suggest that evangelism is actually meant to be a team activity, that we’re meant to share and show the faith together, over time, through relationships.  We recognize here that not everyone shares the same gifts.  Chester and Timmis suggest that there are a few ways that everyone can be involved in witnessing: Building relationships, Sharing the Gospel, and Introducing to Community 

In their book, Total Church, they share this diagram to show how multiple Christians can be involved in witnessing to one person:

Building Relationships

As Christians we should always be interested in knowing new people and getting to know the unchurch people around us.  Especially in a church plant, it is essential that all of our member are regularly starting new relationships with people on the fringes of their life, and depening relationships with the unchurched people they know.  There are people who are extremely gifted at meeting new people and starting relationships with them.

Sharing the Gospel

When we live the Christian life in front of an unbeleiving world, people will take notive of the way we love, sacrafice, and serve and will ask us of our faith.  All Christians all called to be ready to answer when someone asks the reason of our hope.  When we have opportunity, and the Spirit moves us, we’re called to speak.  Yet, for some this come much easier.  Some people can turn everyday conversation into a exhortation to beleive in Jesus.

Introducing to Community

Most of us have people in our lives that are unchurched or dechurched.  The difficult thing is trying to figure out how to get them to church or to sit down and talk about Jesus in a productive way.  Yet, often times all we have to do is to introduce them to the wider community.  It’s hard to just start up a religious conversation and it seem natural.  Its even difficult to simply get someone to agree to go to church, yet its pretty easy to ask them to a barbeque or a movie.  Somepeople are naturals at connecting people.  Someone great in this area might host great parties or plan some great events or they might be simply good at inviting a unchurched friend and beleiving friends to the same place.  The more relationships built, the better, because the unchurched person sees the Gospel play out in the lives of Christians.  There is also, then, a greater chance that the unchurched person might really connect with one of the Christians, which can open the door to greater Gospel converstaions.

When evangelism becomes a community project, it becomes easy and fun.  Everyone has a part to play.  No matter your gift.  God can use you.  He’s save you for this very purpose.  Trust in his Spirit to lead you.

Questions:

  • Who do you know that is far from Jesus?  How can you start to build relationships with them?
  • If you’re not gifted at sharing the faith, who do you need to introduce them to?
  • What kinds of events or settings can you imagine your unchurch and your church friends mingling at?
  • What strand or strands of evangelism are you most comfortable and gifted with?  What other types of Christians do you need to partner with to help reach your friends?

Read more about outreach in missional communities here

Images found here

It’s a Dangerous Business

“It’s a dangerous business,” Frodo shares with his fellow Hobbits as they are about to leave the Shire in Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings.  Filled with excitement and trepidation at leaving home for the first time, Frodo shares the wise and whimsical council of his beloved Uncle Bilbo:

He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary. ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,’ he used to say. ‘You step onto the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.

It’s a dangerous buisness, opening your mouth, as well.  The conversation can bring you anywhere.   James says, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness” (James 3:9).  Our words will often flow into curses of our neighbors and God. They can set the course of our life on fire.  Yet, God didn’t create words and speech for that.

Every word and conversation is really meant to flow through the tributaries of casual conversation to the deep and powerful rushing waters of theology.  That great river of the Gospel flows into a river of life, it’s the road to God.  Every conversations was meant to point there, every road meant to lead to Him.  Why?  Because we were meant to “live, move and have our being” in Him (Acts 17:28).  We were created to find all our joy, purpose and meaning in our God and Father.    In the Fall we ran away from God, yet in the Gospel, God Redeemed us and calls us to to Jesus, the way and road home (John 14:6).  He desires for us to be prepared to share the faith, to season and frame all our conversations with God’s Story and Love, and to trust the Spirit to guide in showing the way to others.

Since we have been redeemed, since we’re on our way home, we have something to share, something to talk about.  We’ll run into many people on our journey home.  We’ll have the opportunity to invite them along, to tell them where we’re going.    Just as “it’s a dangerous business” in going out your door in the uncertainty of where the day will take you, there’s always uncertainty, every time a conversation starts.  We don’t know what paths words will lead us down, but what we do know is that God desires to use our words and our path to lead people home.   God’s called every person we meet to intersect with our path so that somehow, the direction and ultimately the destination of their life might change.  God’s Spirit will present opportunities to speak and give us words to say to lead others home.

Picture found here.

Missional Training #16 – Listening

The church that we are working with Jesus to plant is pretty void of programs.  We want it to be as incarnational as possible where we are in the lives of others.  We want to demonstrate the person of Christ through our presence and participation for the good in the lives of those around us.   The incarnation is when Jesus took on human flesh, became one of us, and moved into the neighborhood.  We too want to enter the stories of those around us and change them for the good by pointing to the one who changed and redeemed our story.

Listen to this five-minute Verge Network video from Michael Frost entitled, “How to Listen to your neighborhood”:

As we start planting Missional Communities, listening is a very important activity in determining how to reach and bless those we seek to disciple.  As you think of your prospects, Have you listened to them? 

  • What is their story?  
  • What do they take joy in?
  •  What do they struggle with?
  • Where do they need help?
  • What will it take for them to succeed, be happy, keep their family together, feel worthwhile, etc?
  • What do they think they need to have in life and what, if lost, do they feel would free them?

How do you feel you can incarnate their world?  In what ways can we as an MC enter into their story and bless them and show them Jesus?  In what ways can we, as an entire church, do the same?

Share God’s Story This Easter

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.

Sharing the Gospel: All You Need Is Story, Part 3

In Sharing the Gospel: All You Need Is Story Part 1,  We mentioned that every Christian needs to know how to share the biblical story of

Creation –> Fall –> Redemption –> Restoration

In Part 2, we talked about how the Christian life and a personal faith story adds validity to sharing the Gospel Story.  Today I want to share why it’s important to always be ready to share these stories.

We all have people in our lives that we know are far from Christ and we feel like we’re called to share the gospel with them.  For my mother, this person was her hairdresser.  She prayed for her daily and always wanted to share the faith with her, but she never saw a natural way to bring it up.   

Every time my mother came home from getting her fair done, she’d stand at the door smiling, waiting to see if anyone noticed her new hairdo.  We almost grew to expect it and we’d keep an eye out for her return so that we would remember to say something about her hair style.

One spring day she went to her hair dresser again.  When she go home, all of us were looked up, ready to check out her new hairstyle, and we noticed that she wasn’t smiling, but she looked like the dog died. 

After some prodding, my mother shared that her hair dresser had asked why my mother was getter her hair cut.  My mom responded that it that she was getting ready for Easter later on that week.  Then the hair stylist asked, “That’s one thing I’ve never understood about Christians.  Why is Easter so important to you guys?” 

My mom panicked.  She simply said, “Oh, that’s when we celebrate Jesus rising from the dead”….and that was all she said.

Now was my mother’s answer wrong? No!  Not at all!  It was spot on. Yet she could have given a better answer.  She didn’t make the most of the opportunity God had granted her.  In fact, her answer probably didn’t make much sense to the hair dresser.  Yet if she was prepared ahead of time, she could have shared the grand story of why Easter is important through: Creation –> Fall –> Redemption –> Restoration.    If she had memorized those four themes, she wouldn’t have panicked and would have given a much greater answer that explained the significance of Christ’s death. 

This encounter wither her hair dresser was years ago.  My mother has been looking for another chance to talk to her about Christ ever since.  Don’t miss your opportunity.  Be prepared to Share God’s Story and to share how it has changed your Story.

Sharing the Gospel: All You Need Is Story, Part 2

Yesterday, in Sharing the Gospel: All You Need Is Story Part 1,  We mentioned that every Christian needs to know how to share the biblical story of

Creation –> Fall –> Redemption –> Restoration

You’ve been saved by believing the Good News of that Story.  You need to be ready to share it as well because God will allow you opportunities to be his witnesses.   Yet what makes that story ring true? They need to see it working in your life.   

Before Peter tells us to be ready to share the Gospel Story, he says in 1 Peter2:12,

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

For people to believe the message of Jesus, they often have to first see it working in our lives.  So, we should try to live our lives as if we truly do believe that God owns everything, that he has given us everything we need in Jesus, and that he will give us life eternal with Him.  When we don’t do this perfectly because we are still sinners, we can’t cover it up and act “holier than thou.”  Rather we need to be honest about our struggles and be ready to live lives of confession, repentance, and forgiveness openly so that others see that the Christian life is attainable and not just for the morally superior.   They also then see the Grace of God in action. 

 

How To Share Your Story

Besides being willing to live the Christian Life,  we also need to be prepared to Share how God’s Story has affected us.  The best way of doing this is by following this outline:

  1. How Was I before Christ?
  2. How Christ came into my life?
  3. How He changed me and my life?

I’m Lutheran, so in my church body we baptize as infants and teach our children the faith from infancy.  Many of us can’t remember a time that we didn’t believe.  So instead of talking about when we became Christians, the pivotal point in our story is when our faith became our own and not just what our parents taught us, or when our faith was tested and how it brought us through difficult times.   So our stories might look a little different.  It might go something like this. 

  1. I was raised in the faith
  2. When I made my faith my own/ how I grew in it
  3. How it changed me

or

  1. I was a Christian
  2. I faced a horribly difficult situation
  3. How my faith gave me hope and strength

 

My Story

Personally, I’m a mix of both story methods. 

1) I grew up in the faith, but I was never taught why I should believe.  I walked away from God and became a selfish individual.  Everything I did was for my own benefit.  I was in every relationship I had for only as long as I got something out of it.  I was willing to lie, steal, or to hurt anyone to forward my own agenda of become successful. 

2) Yet I ran into difficult times which forced me to reexamine the faith.  After much study I found out how real God was, and how reliable his word was.  I was floored by the love that He showed us by sending his Son to pay for all the bad things I had done.  I soon realized my life shouldn’t be about me, but really everything was about Him.

3) Now I try to live every day of my life for God instead of myself.  I don’t do this perfectly, but I continue to try to serve God with my life because of everything he did for me through Jesus.

How would you tell your own story of Faith?  Feel free to share it in the comment section.

Tomorrow I’ll share why it’s so important to always be ready to share these stories.

Sharing the Gospel: All You Need Is Story, Part 1

As Christians we’ve been transformed trough the message, or story, of what God has done for us through Jesus (Romans 10:13-17). The story has been passed on to us, and we’re also called to then pass on that story to others that they too might believe.  The apostle writes in 1st Peter 3:15

In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Peter doesn’t call on all Christians to be evangelists, or street preachers, or those annoying people who harass you until they get you to accept a bible tract.  Rather, what he says is to be ready to share the Gospel.  If you’re living the Christian life, some how some way people will notice.  In their time of need, or plainly out of curiosity, they will ask you for the reason for your hope.  So you must be prepared to share it.  To do this, you’ll need to know the basics of the biblical story. 

How To Tell God’s Story

The easiest way is to remember these four elements.

Creation –> Fall –> Redemption –> Restoration

If you have these four elements, you can tell people of the entire redemptive act of Jesus. 

(Creation) God created this world perfect.  It was everything we yearn for.  The world was good.  We had peace with God, with each other, with the animals, & with nature.  It was heaven on earth. 

(Fall) Yet God had an enemy who convinced humanity that they didn’t need God and that they could run the world better.  So humanity was led into rebellion (that is sin) against God.  Because of that rebellion, the world isn’t how it should be.  There are natural disasters, wars, famine, hatred, suffering, and death.  Yet God couldn’t bear for this to go on forever.

(Redemption)  He sent his one and only son, Jesus, into the war zone of this world to offer a truce.  He paid the price of our rebellion on the cross so that we could be pardoned and forgiven.  He has made it possible for a relationship with God again.

(Restoration) Yet God didn’t leave it there.  One day, he will come back and restore all of the creation to what it was meant to be.  There will be no more wars, sorrow, weeping or pain.  It will be heaven on earth once more.  Everything will be made right. 

This narrative of Creation, Fall, Redemption & Restoration is something every Christian needs to know how to share.  Try to speak or to write the gospel story following Creation –> Fall –> Redemption –> Restoration.  Feel free to leave your attempt in the comment section below. 

Tomorrow, I’ll share what makes people trust the  Biblical Story

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