Do you consider yourself a disciple of Jesus?
Discipleship, in much of the American church, has become associated with Bible studies. Don’t get me wrong—the Bible is always central to discipleship! But we can be tempted to separate Bible study from actually living it out. But for Jesus, the call to follow him as a disciple necessarily entailed living it out—particularly by joining in his mission. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said to the first disciples, “and I will send you out to fish for people” (Mark 1:17). And lest we think this calling applied only to the first disciples: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19-20).
I have found that the biggest barrier to embracing this missional calling is my own heart. I don’t always want to live this way. I’d rather relax at home. I don’t always like my neighbors. I don’t think I have the time to invest in new relationships. And so, on one hand, I know I should pursue opportunities to share the gospel, but, on the other, I don’t always want to. So what should I do? The temptation is to settle for guilt-driven legalism (obey even though I don’t feel like it) or license (don’t obey at all). And this temptation reveals my ongoing need for the gospel for myself. It reveals my selfishness and lack of love; it reveals heart idols (such as comfort and ease). I need to repent and preach the gospel to myself, reminding myself that God loved me when I was his enemy, that Jesus left his comfort and privilege in heaven to pursue a relationship with me. As I experience the Gospel precisely at the points where my heart resists my calling to do the same, I have found that it softens my heart and motivates a desire in me to “engage the Least and the Lost with the transforming power of the Gospel” (GRC’s Mission Statement).
And summer is a great time to do that. I don’t know about you, but I never see my neighbors during the winter. Warm weather presents additional opportunities to build bridges. Here are some simple ideas to “be missional” this summer. Prayerfully consider being intentional about a few of these, or use them to prompt similar ideas not on this list.
- Pray for your neighbors as you walk your dog (or just walk) through the neighborhood.
- Invite neighbors over for dinner.
- Attend parties invited to by neighbors.
- Have a game night (yard games outside, board games inside).
- Grow a garden and give extra produce to neighbors.
- Do a summer BBQ every Friday night and invite others to contribute.
- Host a sports game watching party.
- Start a play date for other stay-at-home parents.
- Volunteer to coach a little league sports team.
- Roast s’mores in the backyard; have a front yard ice cream party in the summer.
- Intentionally eat lunch with co-workers.
- Pray for your co-workers on the way to work.
- Avoid complaining and look for ways to encourage others.
- Be a regular at a local café, gym, pub, park, etc. and engage the staff and people that you regularly see there.
- Hobby with non-Christians: city league, running club, sewing, piano lessons, board games.
- Serve your neighbors (mowing, repairs, tools, etc.)
- Participate in civic events and festivals.
- Throw a 4th of July block party.
- Start a discussion group or book club.
Whatever you end up doing, be intentional about following Jesus by fishing for people in the coming months.
Steve Sage is our Pastor of Discipleship.