#SmallGroups: New Wine Podcast #010 How can small groups help us be more missional?

Do small groups help or hinder followers of Jesus becoming more missional?  My answer: depends on the groups!

 

I answer this question in my latest podcast.  You can listen to it on the bottom of this post, on iTunes, or on Stitcher.

If you like it, would you please rate it and even leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher?  That would be super cool!

Thanks!

 

 

The Ugliness of Envy How to ensure that you'll be unappealing and unattractive!

I think we all have that one friend, co-worker, or family member who insists on being annoyed that anyone else has anything good going on for them.  Do you know what I’m talking about?

This condition is called “envy” and it is really pretty unseemly and downright ugly!

But I think if we’re all honest, then we know that we exhibit lots of envy in our lives too.  So that means that our behaviors, words, and attitudes make us pretty ugly to others too.  (Did you see what I did there…”pretty ugly”…get it!?)

Envy

Green with Envy

Envy Invades Us All

Recently my wife and I were having a conversation and I was talking about someone that we both know.  Everything in his life has seemingly just come together without much effort while many things in my life have taken great struggle and persistence.  I went on and on and eventually I veered off into envy territory.  I started saying things like “Well, if I were him…” and “It would be nice if my life were as easy as his…”

My guess is that this story resonates with you.  Envy is real and its reach extends to each one of us.

The Impact of Envy

What’s so bad about envy?  Some people argue that envy doesn’t really hurt anyone, so why would God tell us not to envy what our neighbors have (cf. the 10 commandments)?

Well, I think there are two reasons, at least:

  1. Envy is a sign that we can’t be content with what we have.  Envy is primary side effect of the disease known as “I wish I had that other stuff over there.”  Honestly, envy communicates loudly that our desire for things we don’t have trumps our desire for God and his will in this world.  And I’m pretty convinced that it is envy that drives our desire for more stuff, more stuff, and more stuff.  If someone else has it, then I have to too!
  2. Envy impacts the people around us.  Check out John 4.1-2: “Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John — although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.”  Do you see it?  The envy of the Pharisees about who was more popular led to Jesus leaving Judea and returning to Galilee.  Their envy impacted Jesus’ plans.  The same is true in our worlds — our envy impacts the people around us.

Envy Solution

So what’s the answer to envy?  Well, I don’t think there’s a quick fix.

Honestly, I think we have to start by being totally satisfied with God and God alone.  If we lost it all but still had him, would we be okay?  Would we be happy?  Or are we so tied to our stuff and relationships that we can’t exist without them?

A second area to work on would is being content with what we have (cf. Philippians 4).  Do we really need more shoes, more gadgets, more square footage, and more fame?  Will it ever be enough?

And a third way to combat envy would be to surround ourselves with community, the kind of community that will love us, correct us, encourage us, and hold us accountable.  So when we start exhibiting signs of envy, they can call us on it and help us change.

Lastly, a fourth way would be to pray.  We need to ask God to help us.  We can’t do this on our own — we’ll always default back to envy.  We need the internal power that only God can provide through the indwelling presence of the Spirit.

 

What do you think?  How big of a problem is envy and what can we do about it?  Let me know in the comments below.

#DecisionMaking: New Wine Podcast #009

This is podcast number nine and here’s the question we’ll try to answer this time: How should a follower of Jesus make decisions?

Have you ever found yourself in a position where you need to make a decision but you have many options, most of which seem quite good?  What did you do?  How did you choose between the options?

I have recently found myself in this very position.  The future direction of my professional life could go many different directions and I’m at a place in my personal life where I need to choose which way to go.  And I can tell you without equivocation that making a decision in circumstances like these is extremely difficult!

How do we proceed?  And does being a follower of Jesus cause things to change?

 

I answer this question in my latest podcast.  You can listen to it on the bottom of this post, on iTunes, or on Stitcher.

If you like it, would you please rate it and even leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher?  That would be super cool!

Thanks!

 

#Prayer: New Wine Podcast #006

What is prayer and what does it have to do with following Jesus actively in the real world?

In this podcast I attempt to answer this question.  I discuss prayer, its connection to being on mission with Jesus, and a few examples of how prayer has impacted some of the missional efforts I’ve been a part of.

 

You can listen to it on the bottom of this post, on iTunes, or on Stitcher.

If you like it, would you please rate it and even leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher?  That would be super cool!

Thanks!

 

Thanks!

 

ISIS: A Response

I don’t even know where to begin other than with sorrow.

My heart is full to the brim with sorrow over the deaths of 21 Egyptian Christians on a Libyan beach at the hands of ISIS militants.

And where there is sorrow, many other emotions can quickly follow.  I know for me there’s an indignation that wells up in response to this extreme persecution.  I want these ISIS militants to pay for what they’ve done.

But almost at the same time a real feeling of helplessness arises too, since I know that violence almost always only results in more violence.

So how should I, a follower of Jesus, respond?  What’s a gospel-centered reaction?

 

ISIS

ISIS Militant leading their Egyptian captives to the place where they would be beheaded.

Initial Reaction to ISIS

It’s hard, if not impossible, to control one’s first response to something.  It just happens.

And my first response to the news out of Libya was sadness.  My heart fell for the families of the slain.  I was deeply saddened by inevitable damage done to Christian-Muslim relations.  And I was heartbroken at the way that so many would surely talk about God, violence, and retribution, whether Christians or otherwise.

In fact, as I first heard this news one line of Scripture continued to run through my head: “Darkness is my closest friend” (Psalm 88.18b).  This must be the sentiment of so many right now: the family, friends, and neighbors of the deceased; most people living in Egypt and Libya; many of my friends here in the US who originate from Egypt; most Muslims; most Christians; all Coptic Christians; and, frankly, most people in the world.

 

Now What?

The sorrow caused by the actions taken by ISIS is real and can’t be minimized.  No words or actions will mitigate it.  Time will not erode it.  It will just be there — to be sure, more acute at some times than others.

But sorrow can’t be the last word of this story.  Sorrow can’t win the day.  There has to be a broader response — a reaction that will embrace the darkness but prepare us for God’s glorious light.

And that response is trust.

Don’t get me wrong, trust is probably the hardest thing to do right now.  Who can we trust if people are capable of this sort of evil?  What government can we trust to keep us safe if buildings in the USA, offices in France, and beaches in Libya are all compromised?  And how can we trust God if he allowed this atrocity (and ones like it) to happen?

This is my contention: We must trust or the only choice we have is to give in to the darkness.  And I, for one, will not give in to the darkness!  I refuse to let the shadows of this life cause me to forget that the light that’s on the other side of the thing casting the shadow.

And this is no pie-in-the-sky kind of hope I’m talking about.  No.  What I have in mind is a level-headed, open-eyed trust.

This is what it might look like…

Trust in the Wake of ISIS

How can I trust anything or anyone, much less God, in the wake of the horrific crimes committed by ISIS? Here are a few initial ideas that might help.  However, I fully realize my limited perspective and expertise and I am fully willing to listen to any other ideas that you might have.  Please share them in the comments below.

  1. Don’t be surprised.  When something awful happens we’re always surprised.  What’s up with that?  It’s as if we’ve forgotten the reality of what it means to be human.  We’re horrible to one another.  Horrible.  People have always done disgusting, inhuman things to one another. And yet we’re always surprised.  And it seems that Christians might be the most surprised group of all.  Why?  Have we not read our Bibles?  Have we not read the words of Jesus himself?  Jesus said, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15.20).  He also said that with blessings come persecutions (Mark 10.30).  Jesus knew that his message of the good news of the kingdom of God will butt heads with the kingdoms of this world.  He knew that danger and drama could be real possibilities for his followers.  And this has come true in each generation of followers of Jesus.  Persecution is a reality that we must deal with until Jesus brings his kingdom to fruition when he comes again.  So, friends, let’s not be surprised when it comes!  Instead, let’s prepare for it, trusting in the goodness of God in the face of the greatest evil humanity can muster!
  2. Pray.  There’s no way to move forward through this mess without prayer.  What ISIS has done (and will likely continue to do) is horrible.  And our chief response shouldn’t be warmongering, hatred, and wide-sweeping generalizations about all Muslims.  No.  Our chief response to the horror brought on by ISIS should be prayer.  Let’s turn to God with our complaints, pains, and confusion.  Let’s seek his wisdom during this volatile time.  Let’s pray like Nehemiah, the Psalmist, and others, begging God to deliver vengeance on behalf of his people.  Through prayer we are reminded of our place in this world — and that place is certainly not on the seat of judgment and revenge.  That is God’s seat alone.  But our prayers should also be for peace, the comfort of those who are mourning, and a swift resolution to this crisis.  Moreover, our prayers should also be for our enemies.  Jesus couldn’t be clearer about this: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5.44).  Could there be a harder command to fulfill right now?  How are we, am I, supposed to love and pray for ISIS?  I’m not sure exactly, but here’s a starting place.  I need to remember that I am a sinner, through and through.  I’m worse than I know that I am.  I’ve done more wrong that I can recall, I’ve left more good undone than could ever be recounted, and I’ve consciously and subconsciously participated in systemic sin from the moment I was born.  I’m a wretch.  And if it wasn’t for the grace of God in Jesus Christ, I would be far, far from God right now.  I’m in no place to judge anyone.  Is what the ISIS militants did wrong?  Of course.   Unequivocally.  But I’ve done so much wrong in my life too.  Only God can judge us.  So what can I do if not judge ISIS?  I can love them by praying for them.  I can pray for God to intervene in their lives.  I can pray for God to give them dreams of his love and beauty and healing.  I can pray that they will experience the same life-giving grace that I have in my life.  I must pray for them.  Why?  Because otherwise I will hate them and not love them, which is in direct violation of Jesus command to love my enemies.  In order to trust God through this ordeal, I must turn to him in prayer.
  3. Embrace the mystery, the unknown, the scary, and the awkwardness. In order to move forward and to trust again, I must simply embrace the fact that this world is messed up.  There are many things that are beyond my comprehension and control.  I can’t understand how ISIS could do this heinous act.  I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that God did not intervene.  I can’t deny the fact that I have experience some truly illogical fear over the last few days.  And I can’t get over the frustrations I feel regarding each of these things.  But, if I’m honest, there is so much of life that is mysterious, unknowable, scary, and awkward.  I shouldn’t be surprised that these events have reminded me of this reality.  Friends, we must admit that we can’t figure everything out.  There is a God, and not one of us is him.

 

Well, that’s all I have.  We must learn to trust God again.  We can’t let time-bound circumstances influence our eternal relationship with God.  We have no choice by to turn to him, to place our full faith in him, and to continue to follow him.

 

If you have any thoughts you’d like to share, please do so in the comments below.

 

(Just FYI, I will be moderating the comments carefully, so please abstain from hate speech, racist remarks, bad language, and the like.  Thanks!)

Praying on the Spot

Maybe you’re like me and you have a hard time remembering things.  I’m horrible with dates, names, places, directions, and on and on.

In fact, I was so nervous that I would forget my wife’s birthday that I set it as my password for everything when we were dating.  Then I did the same thing with our anniversary date when we first got married.  (I have since changed it, so don’t try to log-in to my stuff!)

So it should come as no surprise that I almost never remember to pray for someone when I tell them I’m going to.

 

Praying on the Spot

So, in response to my poor memory, I started praying for people on the spot.  I began with my close friends and family.

Sure, it was a bit awkward at first, but once we all got used to it, things were great!

I then extended the “praying on the spot” circle to include other people in our church community.  That went well too.

But lately I’ve started praying for people I barely know, like cashiers and other people I run into in my daily life.

Well, as many of you already know, my wife and I are in the process of finalizing the adoption of our little boy Jude Myron.  Here’s an obligatory picture:

praying

Jude Myron, posing for his newborn pics.

For part of Myron’s time in the hospital after he was born, he had to stay in the NICU’s nursery due to some particular adoption regulations.  Well, as you might imagine, we saw some tired and stressed out parents and family members in the NICU (which is short for neo-natal intensive care unit).

Praying in the Hospital

On one particular day a woman walked out of the NICU and it was clear that she was really shaken up.  She was sobbing as she walked by in her hospital-issued gown to go back to her labor recovery room.  My instincts were telling me to reach out to her, to console her, and to pray for her.

But I thought it would be awkward, her being in a gown and all.  So I let the moment slip by.

I saw her early the next day and she was with a friend.  They were chatting and things seemed better.  I naively thought, Well, I guess the worst times are behind her.  I felt okay about passing on the opportunity to pray for her the day before.

Then, later on that same day, I saw her exiting the NICU again.  She was in tears once more, but this time she was wearing street clothes.

All the excuses were gone.  Now was the time.  And since Myron was about to be discharged, I wasn’t going to get another opportunity.

As she approached the area where I was seated we made eye contact.  When she was right in front of me I finally gathered the courage to talk to her:

“Are you okay?”

“Not really.”

“I’m sorry.  How long does your baby have to be here?” I asked.

“Eight and a half more weeks,” she replied.

I knew at that point only one tiny drop of the pain she was feeling.  Myron had been in the NICU for three days and that felt horrible…and he was healthy.  My heart broke for her.

“I saw you the other day and I wanted to talk to you but I didn’t,” I said.

“Was I crying then too?”

“Yeah.”

“Sorry about that.”

“No.  Don’t be sorry,” I responded.  Then I paused for a second or two.  We were still making eye contact.  I knew that I was about to ask her if I could pray for her but I was scared.

“I know this might sound weird…but can I pray for you?”

“Sure,” she said as she brightened up ever-so-slightly.

I motioned her to move closer to me since there were half a dozen people in the waiting room.

“What’s your name?” I asked.  She told me.  “What’s your baby’s name?”  She shared that information with me too.

Then I offered my hand to her and she took it.  I paused, trying to gather my strength, and I prayed.

I simply offered a prayer for her recovery and the health of her child.  I had a really hard time holding it together though.

I finished praying and I looked up and we shared a nice little moment together.  She then told me some more of her story and how hard it was to have such a tiny baby.  I wished her the best and told her I would continue to pray for her.

 

Conclusion

For every one story like this that I have, I have twenty where I did nothing.  Praying for someone you don’t know can be difficult and weird.

But praying for a stranger can sometimes be the best missional ice breaker ever.

What’s the worst that could happen?  Someone could ask you not to pray for them?

The missional benefits outweigh the “risks.”

Praying for someone who is far from God can be the catalyst to put them on the path toward Jesus!

 

What do you think about praying for people on the spot?  Is praying in this manner difficult or weird for you?  Or do you find it easy and natural?

 

If you’d like to help us with our adoption finalization costs or if you want to read more of our adoption story, then please CLICK HERE.  Thanks!

Grocery Store Healing

I’m starting to learn that following Jesus is a full-time calling.

And I’m not talking about this government-regulated 40-hour work week stuff.  No.  I’m talking about every waking moment.

Now I’m not saying that we have to be “on” and doing “ministry” at every moment.  But what I am saying is that we need to be open to whatever God wants to do in us or through us at any moment in any place.

Even at the grocery store.

 

Grocery Store

Are you ready to follow Jesus…even at the grocery store?
By: r. nial bradshaw

 

At the Grocery Store

So here’s the story that inspired this post:

The other day I needed to run to the grocery store.  So I left the comforts of home and made my way to the market.

The grocery store that I went to is one of my regular haunts.  I know most of the cashiers’ faces and a few of their names.  This time, however, when I went to check out, I ended up in a line with someone I had never seen before.

I never caught her name because her name tag was flipped over, but she was pleasant enough.  She made a few little jokes and I politely laughed.  As I have mentioned before, I am an introvert and small talk is pretty much the bane of my existence.  But I felt like I needed to clue in, so I started paying attention.

The cashier was making a small grimace with her face each time she reached for my items with her right hand.  She noticed that I noticed and started talking about the pain in her wrist.  She told me all about it — when it started, what her doctor said about it, how long it takes to get in at the local clinic, and how she has to miss work sometimes because of the pain.

In fact, she talked so much that she was still talking even though I had paid for my items and reloaded my basket.  She kept talking.

Now I need to be honest.  My first reaction was to be frustrated.  My wife was waiting for me at home and it had been a long day.  All my selfish side wanted to do was to shut her down and get out of there.

But due to the fact that my wife and I (and some of our closest friends) have been attempting to make ourselves more available to God, I felt a small voice in the back of my mind telling me to listen up.  So I did.  I put all my introvert tendencies aside and continued to listen.

The cashier talked for another minute or two.  (Luckily there was no one else in line!)  Then I felt a very clear impression to ask her if she was a praying person.  So I did:

“Are you a praying person?”

“What?” she said.

“Do you pray?”

“Sometimes.  Well, not really all that much.”

“Would you mind if I prayed for you?” I replied.

“Uh, sure, I guess.”

I let go of my basket and moved in closer to her and asked if I could touch her wrist where she was feeling pain.  She extended her right hand and I took her forearm in my right hand.  It kind of looked like a Roman hand shake.

Grocery Store

Roman Handshake

I bowed my head and closed my eyes and said a really short prayer asking Jesus to heal her.  When I finished praying, I opened my eyes and we made solid eye contact for a few seconds.  She had gotten a little misty and I told her that I hoped Jesus would heal her.  Then we parted ways.

I went back last night to check on her at the grocery store and she wasn’t at work.  When/if I see her again, I’ll post a short update!

 

Available

So I’m only telling this story for one reason: we need to be more available.  I’ve lived much of my life viewing others as extras in the movie of my life.  This is unfair and selfish on my part.

God sends us to the places where we work, live, play…and shop!  Even the grocery store!

And the only reason this story sticks out in my memory is because it is the exception to the rule: I’m usually unavailable.

I’m distracted, or looking at my phone, or staring off into the distance, or talking to someone I came with.

But when I make myself available for God to use, he does!  And I guarantee that if you make yourself available, God will plug you into the work he’s already doing in the places where you work, live, and play.

Even at the grocery store.

 

(BONUS: This isn’t the first time that something interesting has happened to me at the grocery store.  Click here to read another post about an unexpected missional encounter at the grocery store!)

 

So, how has God used you in unexpected ways?  Has he used you at the grocery store?  Let me know in the comments below!

A Simple Missional Prayer Habit

As I’ve been studying various missional practitioners and their ideas, one thing seems to be overlooked from time to time — prayer.  It’s not that folks don’t talk about it; they do.  However, it is often not a focus.  Other things tend to take center stage, such as strategies, stories, and studies of Scripture.  All of these things are good, great even!, but prayer can’t be overlooked.

A Prayer Habit

Full disclosure: my wife and I aren’t perfect.  Far from it!  But from time to time we get a few things right; and I think the particular prayer habit I’m about to describe is one of them.

We recently moved to a new neighborhood and we want to be a witness of the gospel of Jesus and his kingdom in it.  In order to do so we quickly realized that we need to get to know our neighbors — both those in our immediate vicinity and those a little further away.  To accomplish this my wife had the brilliant idea of taking a walk in our neighborhood each night that we eat dinner at home.

Here’s how it works.  We eat dinner, then pray for God to bring whomever he would like across our paths, and then we go out for a walk.  Sometimes we bring something with us, like cookies, to give to people.  Other times we simply walk around and strike up conversations when it’s appropriate.

God has been faithful to bring someone along our path each time, someone that we have the opportunity to meet and to bless.

Here are a few examples:

On one of our first walks we met a man named Louis who looked rather dejected.  When we said that we had cookies for him, he flashed us the biggest smile and gobbled them up happily!  A week or two later we were out walking and saw Louis once again.  We called him by name, which seemed to make his day, and gave him some more cookies.

Another time we approached a group of eight or so young people.  We had been nervous about talking to such a large group, but after praying we both felt compelled by the Spirit to go for it.  In so doing we got to meet some really cool people, including one man who has lived in our neighborhood for more than three decades.  We’re hoping to get to know him better so that he can help us learn about where we live!

Last night we went on a pretty eventful walk and were almost back home.  That’s when one our neighbors in our closest vicinity stopped to chat with us.  We made some small talk and then she revealed that she was facing some real drama and pain in her life.  This opened a great door for us to engage in some missional listening and to pray for her when we returned home.

And what led to each of these encounters?  A simple habit of praying for God to bring whomever he wanted us to bless across our paths.

What sort of missional prayer habits do you find helpful?  Let me know in the comments below!

5 Ways to Make Your New Year Great!

new year

By: bayasaa
How can this new year be great?

Every year over the holidays a nagging feeling begins to grow.  We all start wondering how the new year will be our best year yet.  We think about what kinds of promises we could make to ourselves or our loved ones that might help us succeed.

But, you know the drill.  We make 12 resolutions to do this or that.  But by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around we’ve failed at almost all of them in one way or another.

Well, how can this year be different?  I haven’t the slightest!  But I do know that there are some basic things we could all do to help every year be great.

Five Ways to Have a Great New Year

  1. Make no more than five goals.  Don’t think of your resolutions as resolutions.  We all know how we do when we resolve to do something…  Instead, form goals.  Don’t make too many or too few.  Five seems about right.  Don’t shoot too high, but don’t make the goals too easy either.  I like to think of them as stretch goals.  Imagine what seems doable, then stretch it just a bit.  For example: your may have a goal to save 3000 dollars this year for a specific purpose.  Great!  That’s 250 bucks a month.  So to stretch this goal just a bit, up your saving amount to 275 bucks.  Then, each month, check in on your goal to see how you are doing.  If you are able it would be good to find a person or two to hold you accountable to your goals also.
  2. Read at least twelve books this year.  The average American apparently reads around 17 books a year.  That seems like a lot!  But it is encouraging to know that folks are still reading.  So, here’s a suggestion: read one book a month.  It doesn’t have to be huge.  It doesn’t have to be one genre or another.  And it doesn’t have to dovetail with your vocation, but it could.  In fact, it might be good to alternate “useful” books with “fun” books each month.  For me that would mean reading one biblical studies/theology book and then one fiction book.  The purpose of this idea is not to just crowd your house or e-reader with more books.  And the hope isn’t to make you look or feel smarter.  The purpose is for all of us to be involved in some continued development and some stress-reducing downtime.
  3. Make prayer a habit.  I’m not going to prescribe to you exactly how you should pray or exactly how often you should.  But I will say that it’s highly doubtful that in 12 months from now you’ll regret having spent time in prayer.  My wife and I have found praying together and as individuals each day to be helpful.  You may want to do what we do or you may want to do something totally different.  Either way, my encouragement to you is for you to pray and to do so often!
  4. Have fun!  Would it be crazy to plan something once a month or so for the sole purpose of having fun?  You may even want to do it more often than that!  These fun things could be anything at all: taking an architectural tour of the town your live in; playing touch football in the park; going hiking; picking up a new hobby; throwing a party; attending a party; etc.  You really could do anything.  The point, however, is that if you plan to do something fun each month, then you’ll always have that to look forward to when things get tough (and we all know they will!).  So, you have full permission to have a blast!
  5. Invest in your community with your time and talents.  During the upcoming new year it would be awesome if all of us spent more time giving back.  There are literally millions of ways that we could serve folks in our neighborhoods.  Here are a few ideas off the top of my head:
    • Contact the principal at your closest school and ask how you can help out.
    • Find a local foster-care agency and see how you can be a blessing to the kids who are served there.
    • Volunteer regularly at your church.
    • Help kick start or continue a “beautify your park/town” initiative.
    • Be a mentor or a tutor for kids in your neighborhood through local non-profits.

 

What do you think?  What are some other ways that you can make the new year great?  Let me know below!

5 Ways to Prepare to Be on Mission

Like everything worthwhile in life, becoming more missional requires us to prepare.  Does that mean that we have to be rigid?  Of course not!  But it does mean that we need to be thoughtful as we begin to live like a missionary.

Let me illustrate this:

My parents are visiting us for Thanksgiving.  We’ve had such a great time so far!  I’m so grateful for them and their love for us!  One of the realities when they visit, however, is that we need to prepare; we need to get ready for their arrival if we want to be hospitable.

What does that look like?  Well, this time around it meant Alida (my wife) and I carefully planning out our meals, including our Thanksgiving feast (which was a-ma-zing!).  It also means that we need to plan a few things to do.  We don’t want to fill our schedule up, because we want to have some time to just hang with my parents, but we do want to do a few things.  So this year we planned to go to a stage production and on a movie studio tour.  We’ve already had a blast, and I hope it’s going to continue!  And part of the reason this is true is that Alida and I planned well.

What then does this have to do with being on mission as a follower of Jesus?  Well, in my opinion, being on mission requires intentionality.  We usually won’t just fall into being more missional!  We need to plan for it and then we need to carry out those plans!

Here are a few ways to prepare to be on mission:

  1. Seek the Lord’s Guidance: The centrality of prayer can’t be focused upon enough!  We must connect with God and ask him how and where he wants us to be on mission.  If we go out in our own power, then we are setting up a situation where we are the ones who will get all the praise.  Instead, let’s ask the Lord in prayer what he wants for us, and then let’s follow through with our actions.
  2. Build a Support Base: Before going out on mission it’s important to have a solid team of folks who are behind you and with you.  These can be obvious people, like your friends and family, or you could reach out and ask a missional person whom you respect but don’t know all that well to mentor you through this process.  Whichever way you go, hear this: Don’t go alone!
  3. Seek Guidance: There’s an old adage that applies here: Don’t try to reinvent the wheel!  There are tons of people who have walked down this path before you.  Read books by missional thinkers (I suggest the following to start: Tangible Kingdom, AND, and The Forgotten Ways.  Another thing to do is to ask missionary-minded people whom you know what their lives look like on a day-to-day basis.  Don’t be shy to ask this!  You’d be surprised how willing people are to share and how honored they’ll be that you asked!
  4. Read about Jesus Constantly: Our best example of living missionally is in the life of Jesus himself.  So, read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John often.  Read them however makes sense to you.  Here’s what I’ve been doing lately: I read one story at a time (you can cheat and use the headings in your Bible!) and then I write down any insights that I feel the Spirit speaking into my life about how to be on mission with the risen Jesus in my own life.  This is a simple method, but it has proven very effective!
  5. Assess Your Circles: Who are you connected to?  Who are your friends?  If you’re like me, then you might find yourself completely encircled by followers of Jesus.  This is a great thing!  But it makes it a bit hard to be on mission if everyone around you already knows Jesus!  So, think carefully about how you might inject yourself into different contexts in order to become friends with those who don’t yet know Jesus.  One way that I’ve been experimenting with lately is playing pick-up basketball at a local gym.  There are hundreds of other ways.  Be creative!

There are lots of other ways to prepare to be on mission.  Can you think of any?  Let me know in the comments below!