By Peter Meier | March 1, 2019
I am looking out my window this morning at my snow covered yard. Back in November, I put Frosty out in the back, and plugged him in. Over the Christmas and New Year holidays he blessed our cold nights with a warm glow. Later in January, I unplugged him. Now he just stands there, cold and frozen like the rest of the yard. At least I don’t have to mow the lawn for a few more months!
Thinking of mowing the green growing grass, I smile. I’m remembering the days when my youngest son, Daniel, would help me mow the lawn. With his little Fisher-Price mower, he followed my steps carefully. This routine helped him to learn to love mowing the lawn. A few years later, he took over the job. In fact, he got to the point where he could do a better job than his dad. I admit it.
One of the neatest things as a grandpa happened last fall. While visiting Daniel and Jessica, I offered to cut the lawn, as Daniel was busy with work. Pretty soon, Jack was right behind me with his little Fisher-Price mower, following my steps carefully. He did this regularly with his dad, learning this important life skill, just as his dad learned from me.
There’s a missional point to this. A mission-multiplication point. It’s called discipling, mentoring, apprenticing. It needs to take place in our families, our groups, our faith communities, our churches.
Sometimes, we think that we’re too small to take those steps. When we get big, or mega, we’ll start to mentor others. When we have more members, we’ll multiply. When we find the people with the right gifts, we’ll invite them to apprentice.
Remember the mower. Now is the time to start. Start small.
Smaller churches and groups may believe that ministry in their community is more of a challenge for them than for larger churches. They have smaller budgets, and a smaller pool of involved people. That is true, but God has supplied them with what they need to do something, to start something.
You may not have much money, or many people. But you have opportunities. There are people around you who need help. You can love them. You can serve them in the name of Jesus. You can get to know your neighbors, your neighborhood school, neighborhood shops, and people of influence. These are people who know the community. Visit them. Ask them questions about their work, about the people they work with, their hopes and dreams for the community. Listen for needs and assets. Write them down. Gather a small group to talk about how you can make a difference.
It won’t just happen. You will need to be intentional. Normal church rhythms, programs, member issues, transactional business – these will keep you busy. If you let them. Set some time aside to spend with people, especially people outside your church. And take someone else along with you. Church leaders – ask your pastor how much time he spends with people in the community. Ask him to “tithe” his time in the community.
Preaching alone won’t get the job done. Pastors may be excellent preachers and Bible teachers, but if pastors and church leaders aren’t in the community, meeting people, making friends, attending high school events, they will only be reaching the already reached. Relationships are key. The Great Commission tells us to GO and make disciples. I sometimes say that G-O stands for “get out” – get out of the church building, get out of the office, get out of the pews, and get out into the neighborhood! That’s where the gospel is shared in real life, real time, with real people.
You can do it. Start small. Start in your own neighborhood. Discover how you can love and serve your neighbors. How can you make it a better place? How can you make God’s SHALOM visible, tangible for your community? You can’t do everything, but you can do something. What is that for you?
We can help. If you are not sure what that is, or if you’d like some help for your church to drill deeper in to your neighborhood or community, let me know. I’ll gladly begin a conversation with you, or deliver some on-line training which will help. You can walk alongside me and learn. Then, it will be your turn to invite someone to follow in your steps, and pretty soon, they’ll be apprenticing another!
Mission Moments is the e-newsletter sent by the Center for U.S. Missions to bring information and encouragement to all who desire to share God's great love in Jesus Christ with others. Permission is given to copy this article for distribution within your congregation or organization. Please credit the author and the Center for United States Missions. For more information contact the Center at (952)-221-0362, or visit our website: www.c4usm.org
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