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.
Question 5 takes us deep into the heart of having a missionary mindset and being missional as a primary way of living. It is one thing to connect with new people, pray for them, and take initiative to love and serve them. All good stuff. It is the next step (and deeply related), to devote the time and make the concerted effort to build a true relationship with a person who does not share your faith. Not so easy. Getting to know a person on their terms can take a large dollop of gumption.
Building such a relationship needs a sense of humor, creativity, quiet perseverance, flexibility, wisdom and all sorts of grace. Remember, the relationship I am referring to is one which gradually opens the person to Jesus, not merely having a new friend:
It is strategic, yet genuine.
It is focused, yet natural.
It has a purpose, but is gracious and sincerely loving at the core.
I hope it is abundantly clear I am not reducing such relating to "winning" converts as if we are making sales, and "upping our numbers" for God. Yuck! Seems to me such an attitude reduces the person to a target rather than a precious human soul, a person worthy of respect. Lord, keep us from such insulting practices!
Question 5: Am I Building a Relationship With Someone Who Doesn't Know Jesus?
1. Do I love Jesus to the degree that my heart longs for others to know him?
2. Have I allowed God to "break my heart" for people far from him: the broken, blind, stubborn, and superficially satisfied?
3. Have I asked him to help create more space in my life for building relationships with people who don't share my faith?
4. Have I examined my fears over "imposing my views" on others, and asked God to give me courage and "words salted with grace" toward them?
5. Have I decided to surrender some of my time to make this a way of life?
6. Am I studying ways of being more effective in this regard?
7. Am I satisfied with "God if you really want to use me this way, I guess I'm OK with it?" The passive approach is fine by me. I'm not an evangelist, you know.
8. Am I convinced going about building such relationships is the Scriptural way of life; being a missionary is just another way of saying Jesus-follower or Christian?
Take some time with God this week. Reflect on the questions. Pray and listen to God. Engage a fellow Jesus-follower and talk them over with him or her. Use these questions in your small group and commit together to engaging this adventure.
May Jesus take you and me far into the freedom and joy of building relationships with people who do not know him. May our lives be more and more characterized by the missionary mindset and way of life.