If we’re going to faithfully and successfully be the church Jesus calls us to be, we need access to people outside the church. We need to have connections with people who don’t notice God that enable us to help them see Him. At a recent visit to Flatirons Community Church, I heard it called building bridges between people and God and “creating an environment where lost people can bump into Jesus.” That’s a great picture of what ambassadors do, right? They engage in events where the locals in the foreign places they’re living can get a glimpse of the beauty of their homeland and culture, spreading goodwill and building relationships.
But if we forget that we’re not at home here, and we start to behave as if we have some claim or rights to our turf, we run the risk of cutting off access to the very people we’re sent to. We’ll push the “locals” away, rather than intriguing them with and engaging them in the greatness of the God that sent us here. Here are a seven suggestions to make sure you have access to people who don’t notice God (and you’re doing everything you can to reveal Him to them)…
- Notice the broken-ness and hurt of the people around you. Take the time to offer comfort and wholeness. Are there needs in your community that you could help meet? Just for the record, there are. Whether it’s food and shelter or recovery from emotional traumas or the devastation of tragic losses, there is pain in your community that you can help relieve.
- Tell the world what you’re for more loudly and more often than what you’re against. It’s so easy to get this backward and spend so much effort protesting government policies or cultural practices or whatever other hobby horse we want to ride, that we rarely get around to talking about the real Jesus that people need so desperately.
- Don’t be a jerk. Seriously, if you’re claiming the name of Christ, there’s no room for the kind of behavior that pushes people away or gives them more reason to dislike Christians. Take on the attitude of Jesus and treat people well.
- Get involved in community events. Learn to referee youth soccer games or coach little league. Join a civic group that cleans up parks or runs a local farmer’s market. Find some people who are already engaged in making your community a better place, and help them see the One that could make it an incredible place!
- Live with so much hope that people wonder what’s up. The apostle Peter taught people to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Who’s been asking about your hope lately?
- If your employment is on a church staff, get out of the office and work in your community. If we want access to the lives of people who are far from God, are we more likely to find that behind our stained glass windows or at the local coffee shop or stadium?
- Do the best work you’re capable of doing, whether you get recognized for it or not. Someone will notice and wonder why.
- Hang out on your front porch. Do you really know your neighbors? If not, are you going to change that by spending another night in your
bunkerbasement watching Fox News?
Bottom line here: We have to get close to people who are far from Christ if we’re to have any hope of showing them who He is and helping them find hope in Him. We can’t make disciples from a distance.