If your social media newsfeed is anything like ours, you’ll start to see many of a certain type of photo this summer. No, we’re not talking about swimsuit and beach photos, although those will also appear quite frequently. We’re talking about mission trip photos. Snapshots of your friends, family and fellow church members building, painting, and ministering to those less fortunate in another nation. They’re doing some great work, following the Great Commission, going into all the world and making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20).
Maybe that’s something you’d love to do, but you can’t. Maybe there’s not enough money for the trip. Or maybe you can’t take that much time off work. Maybe you feel a little guilty that you can’t participate in a big mission trip like that. If so, we’ve got some good news for you. Did you realize that “all the world” includes your community? Your city, your neighborhood, your circle of friends – they’re all included in that “all the world” geographical goal.
Together, friend, let’s take a look at a few ways to reach out to your community for Jesus. First, we’ll see about your closest geographical community. Then, a simple way to impact anyone from closest friends to acquaintances.
CONNECT WITH YOUR NEIGHBORS
Acts chapter 1 opens at the very end of Jesus’ life on earth. Here, the resurrected Savior gives an important command to His followers in Jerusalem before ascending back into heaven. In verse 8, He says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Notice how He starts with their own city? The very placed they already were. Our mission field starts the same way. In our city. In our neighborhood. On our own little street. Since it’s safe to say that God has set you geographically in the place He wants you to be, then your neighbors in your immediate community are part of your mission field.
Chuck Lawless of the International Mission Board shares an excellent list of things you can do to connect with your neighbors, build relationships, and have opportunities to share Jesus. Those ideas include:
- Actually learn their names
- Invite them to a cookout in your yard
- Do acts of kindness for your neighbors
- Grow a garden and give away much of your crop
Getting to know your neighbors doesn’t have to be difficult. But it’s so essential in finding opportunities to share Jesus with them.
OFFER TO PRAY FOR YOUR COMMUNITY
Have you ever thought about the different circles of connections you have? You’ve got your family circle. Your work circle. Your church circle. Your friends circle. Hopefully soon you’ll have a neighbor circle, too. But no matter which circle someone in your community resides, there’s something you can do for each of those people.
You can ask them how you can pray for them.
1 Timothy 2:1 says, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people.” Everyone in every single one of our circles needs to be prayed for. That includes your neighbors yet to believe, your lost friends you’ve known for decades, those Facebook friends you forgot you added, and even the waitress at your restaurant on Sunday afternoon.
But how will you know what to pray for if you don’t ask? An offer of prayer does more than just show an extra level of love and concern for your lost friend. It also invites them to learn more about the God who listens to our prayers. They may even see the way He answers your prayer for them, convincing them all the more that He’s real and that He loves them.