The Missional Church
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. — Matthew 5:14-16
God calls us, as his people, to be the light of the world. In a world that is often dark, we are to shine the light of God is a way that is visible to other people. Consider your own life and ministry. How are you reflecting God to the world around you? How are you leading your people to be the light in their worlds?
People that aren’t connected with God can recognize it when authentic love it demonstrated. The world knows what we’re supposed to be doing. When they see it, they recognize it.
Any ministry without an outward focus is dying. Any ministry with an outward focus is serving as a light of the world.
We can help you create and maintain an outward focus. Below are the five points of the cycle of effective outreach, with each one related and leading into the others.
1. Cultivate a heart of compassion
2. Serve unbelievers
3. Build redemptive relationships
4. Bridge toward discipleship
5. Help new followers make more followers
Cultivate a heart of compassion
We are to be people who care, and out of that care, pray that God will bring about his needed work. To cultivate compassion, we need to open ourselves up emotionally and spiritually to the pain and the needs of others.
Jesus modeled that kind of heartfelt compassion for us in Matthew 9:35-38: Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
What do we see here in this passage? First, Jesus was present with the people. He went through their towns and villages, interacting with them, engaging, teaching, and healing. Second, he really looked at the crowds of people and allowed himself to feel compassion for their plight. This compassion then moved him to action.
From that essential foundation of compassion, we are moved to service. The ways we serve in the harvest fields depend on the particular harvest field where God has placed us and what work he has already started there. As Henry Blackaby has said, “Find out where God is working and join him there.”
We need to spend time with the people. Get to know the community around us. What do they value? What do they need? What’s important to them? Given this information, how can we best serve them? Brainstorm options. Don’t feel the need to make immediate connections to spirituality– although it will certainly be connected in your mind from the outset– but just serve freely out of a desire to help people no matter what their response to Jesus may eventually be.
Build redemptive relationships
As we serve, we also need to engage relationally. That will mean being genuine and honest in all areas of our lives, and building mutual, authentic relationships. Our love flows out of the love God has for us.
With whom can you build relationships? With whom do you have interests in common? Be sure also to look outside of your comfort zone. Identify the poor, the marginalized, the disenfranchised. We need to see people through the eyes of Jesus.
Bridge toward discipleship
As we build relationships, spiritual conversations are a natural part of that process.
The early church grew so rapidly because the Christians eagerly and naturally shared the gospel with the people they knew. Among our natural network of relationships, there exist pre-established communities of love, trust, respect and interests. These natural relationships provide effective avenues for evangelism.
As people take steps toward faith, we can then help them become established in their relationship with God.
Help new followers make more followers
A part of promoting healthy spiritual growth in new believers is giving them the opportunity to reach out to family and friends to share what God has done for them. In many groups, this process includes public baptism.
We can see from the New Testament how quickly the gospel spread in this manner as people were baptized and shared the good news of Jesus with those they already had relationships with. In our churches, we can try to create ways to make this process as reproducible as possible.
At Logan Leadership, we can help you broaden the scope of your outreach and incorporate it naturally and organically into every aspect of your ministry. Download our free resource, The Path for Developing Missional Leaders and Planters, here.