There’s a dangerous mission field much closer than you think. Just beyond your white picket fence or down your hall is a very high-risk, high-need culture that you’re suited to reach. Your literal neighbors need Jesus as much as those in far-away lands.
There’s no questioning the need
America is home to 195 million unchurched people. The most Bible-minded city in the United States (Knoxville, TN) has 52 percent self-identified Christians, while the least Bible-minded city (Providence, RI) scored single digits. No matter what city you call home, it’s full of people who don’t know Jesus. Yet many American churches still frame mission work with antiquated third-world imagery. This approach overlooks the mission field in which we live.
Why is it so hard?
Talking about faith with your neighbors is scary. If it goes badly, you can’t hide from them—they’ll always be right next door. There’s a degree of safety in traveling hundreds of miles to do missions in another culture. But when we do that and potentially pass thousands of lost people, we risk communicating that God has also passed them by. Fair or not, a watching world will equate our actions with God’s. We represent him, and we can’t afford to ignore the missions in our own hometowns.
3 practical steps for outreach
Invite them to your house—Start by hosting someone—invite them to your house for a dinner party, barbecue, game night, or televised sporting event. Any occasion will do. The objective is to open your life to them. Let them see that you’re a normal person, just like them.
Plan a community event—Do something that brings people together and makes the neighborhood a better place for everyone. Be an organizer—you’ve shown them that you’re normal, now show them that you care. People will notice.
Wait for the question—Sooner or later, you’re going to get the question: “Why are you doing all this?” That’s your opportunity. Don’t rush it. When your neighbor’s curiosity reaches the asking point, they’ll be primed to hear the Gospel.
Nobody likes living next door to a crusader. Don’t hide your faith—live a faith-filled life, and invite others to join you.
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