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 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. Remember it is about gradually developing a missionary mindset, i.e., way of life.
This question is a tough one because it exposes our fears and besetting prejudices. Most of us are squeamish around certain people or certain types of people. Maybe they smell bad. They are dirty. Then there are the loud and obnoxious. Sometimes they represent values or a lifestyle we abhor, even judge readily. Maybe they are unpredictable or threatening in some way. Perhaps they are awkward and hard to talk to. Most people have a hard tine knowing how to relate to street alcoholics and addicts. A few are just crazy.
So, why would I want to talk to "one of them?" Most of us shy away from people in our personal "one of them" categories. After awhile we don't give them a second thought.
I'm pretty sure God finds such attitudes repugnant.
If you are going to develop a missionary mindset, you are are going to have to blow your comfort zone to smithereens, and head hard into unfamiliar territory. The CZ is a suffocating barrier preventing you from learning to relate to the least and most difficult of God's people; the one's most everyone avoids. It steals opportunity for us to experience the mind-blowing power of God to transform the most unlikely people. You will never witness such miracles from the deadening confines of your comfort zone.
You will have to cross the DMZ, your individual no man's land, and extend a hand of friendship, however hesitatingly at first. You will have to take a risk and feel the unsurety.
4. Did I Go Out Of My Comfort Zone to Connect With a Person I Normally Wouldn't?
1. Ask God to give you his love for people you are often uncomfortable with. Ask him to soften your heart and open your eyes to these "image bearers." Ask him to let you see them as he does.
2. Ask him to make your comfort zone less comfortable concerning these people.
3. Pray for increased opportunities to encounter them and the courage to connect as you do.
4. Ask the Holy Spirit to "give you the words to speak" when you encounter someone he wants you to talk with.
5. When you do connect, let it be on their terms. For example, see how they respond and go only as far as they invite.
6. After you make a connect take time soon to reflect on what you were feeling, hoew you encountered God in the interaction and what you learned.
7. Thank him for letting you do this and invite him to continue opening opportunities.
Father, help all of us go beyond our comfort zones. In so doing, shatter our prejudices, overcome our fears, and let us see your incomparable power for transforming people we never thought possible because of our ignorance or blindness.