On December 6, 2009 I published on this blog a post entitled: To Help Us Grow a Missionary Mindset. The post came from a simple tool I created to help folks on our team think and act as missionaries in Northampton. If you read it you would have seen the 8 questions I invited team members to measure their weekly progress against. It was designed to help us all really become missional rather than talk about it. Talking about it is easy to do and weirdly emotionally satisfying. It can take the place of actually doing it. I know, I am quite brilliant at giving lip service.
From looking at the tool lately I have decided to put some flesh on each of the 8 questions I outlined. I will do so in 8 posts detailing one question at a time. I hope you all find it helpful in your own missional development.
The second question is one particularly challenging for me. I am an introvert, not extremely so, but an introvert nonetheless. Going up to strangers has always been a struggle for me. When I was first a Christian the thought of witnessing to people I didn't know was singularly terrifying. Now that I am in Northampton and planting a church I am learning to do what is essential to this mission. I am facing my fear.
2. Did I make a connection or have a conversation with someone I didn't know this week?
We can breeze through a typical week and not have a single conversation with a stranger. Sure, we might give a perfunctory nod or hello to someone, or engage in small talk at the check-out line. We might even take a minute to comment on an event of the day while waiting to get our coffee at Starbucks, but how many of us set our spiritual radar to high alert looking and listening for Holy Spirit nudges to engage someone new when we out and about? How intentional are we to connect?
So perhaps the following will help you to get started:
1. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a compelling love for strangers and a persistent curiosity to know them. Offer yourself to him to be used as it pleases him.
2. Ask him to open your eyes to the abundant opportunities you have in most ordinary days to connect with someone new or different.
3, Ask him to teach you how to engage a new person, to take the initiative in a way that is true to your personality and sensibilities.
4. Ask him to bless you with uncommon courage, discernment and wisdom in engaging strangers. Ask him to give you the words to speak and the way to begin with someone.
5. Ask him to "poke" you when you return to sleepwalking or falling back into your old ways.
6. Resolve to begin "practicing" TODAY. Ask God to give you more than one opportunity.
7. Ask at least 3 people you know who pray regularly, to pray for you as you begin working at this.
8. Recognize it will likely feel quite awkward at first. You will hesitate at times. You could feel very inept and maybe you are. You will fail to connect more than once because everyone will not want to talk with you.
9. See this exercise as being able to learn a skill that God deeply desires for you to learn and be effective with.
10. Allow yourself 6 weeks to establish this as a way of life. Do it every day. Be hopeful. Have fun with it, really.
Being mssional in mindset is always about love and seeing the Kingdom established in the lives of people who are in desperate need of hope, healing, purpose and care (even if they are unaware of that). It all matters more than we realize.
You are a called-out player in the most astounding Reality in the universe, and while you are here, you have the chance to open it to others. Such works (encounters) have been prepared in advance for you to accomplish.
So get after it!