We are called to consistently engage our culture with the gospel in mind, within and outside our normal routines. We should go on mission trips. We should, on occasion, go door-to-door to people we don’t know to engage them in gospel conversation, but we don’t end our engagement there. We should engage others from a gospel perspective in our everyday and every-weekend moments like our school boards, club teams, Home Owners Associations, Parent / Teacher Associations, workplaces, classrooms, charities, neighbors, etc.
We should take others fishing, hunting, golfing, or whatever other recreation activity we might prefer, and we should do it with a gospel mindset and a love for others. Many of us are already engaging our world where we are through social media, neighborhood conversations, sitting at our kid’s practices, etc. We just need to ensure we shift in our mindset, keeping the gospel in view. In addition to just being friendly, we must engage with a gospel mindset that looks for opportunities (i.e. open doors) to point people to Christ and gauging their openness to the gospel.
So, let us engage social issues, personal issues, and church issues, all with a gospel focus.
We engage and love people out of a love for the gospel. In light of that, here are 3 pieces of advice for gospel engagement:
Engagement is intentional. Before you even engage, prepare for that open door so that, when it comes, you are ready.
Think of readiness in terms of your material, your memory, and your mindset.
Material. Have gospel material with you if possible.
Memory. Memorize Bible verses, good conversation starters, and methods for connecting with and ministering to others.
Mindset: Think about questions you will ask and what you will say if an opportunity presents itself. For example, if your child’s ball game is on Sunday afternoon, ask others if they had to miss church. Ask others where they go to church. If you meet someone struggling in their marriage, ask them if they are praying. Ask them if they believe God has a plan for them. Ask them if you can pray for them.
Engage out of love. Focus on caring before curing. God will cure by his Spirit in his timing. We are called to care for others and look for open doors. We tend to get frustrated because we want instantaneous results, yet God wants faithful laborers who will patiently sow seed.
Henri Nouwen said it this way:
Our tendency is to run away from the painful realities or to try and change them as soon as possible. But cure without care makes us into rulers, controllers, manipulators, and prevents a real community from taking shape. Cure without care makes us preoccupied with quick changes, impatient and unwilling to share each other’s burden. And so cure can often become offending instead of liberating. It is therefore not so strange that cure is not seldom refused by people in need. Not only have individuals refused help when they did not sense a real care, but also oppressed nations have declined medicine and food when they realized that it was better to suffer than to lose self-respect by accepting a gift out of a non-caring hand. (Out of Solitude, 37).
We shouldn’t try to be anyone else. We shouldn’t be fake. We are not Bible salespeople (unless you actually are). We are wonderfully made as we are, and God has fully equipped us to fulfill his calling in our lives and to reach the people he has placed in our path.
We do not need more church “programming”; we need more believers engaging our world.
If we can live out this vision of ministry presented throughout the Scriptures, it will revolutionize our past-times, our online activities, our recreation, our social interactions, and the way we view our world.