So, last week some of the people I am working with decided to do something on their own.
This is very exciting. You may not think it’s all that much after you read it. You may think it’s a little thing. If you have ever led a program or started a ministry, you may see it as pretty small. But trust me, it’s huge.
Last weekend we were out of town for a wedding – I’ll write about that some other time. Without consulting with me or asking for my okay, the hosts of our missional groups organized events to connect with their neighbors. Norma and Andrew stepped out and invited their immediate neighbors over for a pot luck (about eight homes.) Taking a page out of Mike Breen’s book, Leading Missional Communities, they were intentional about including Cathy Durham from their MC in the gathering. Kent and Kris organized an ice-cream social with their good friends Andy and Stephanie – who have been involved in our missional communities in the past. Kent invited everyone on their street (about ten homes).
Yep. It’s huge.
Okay. Why is it huge?
1) God has given them a love for their neighbors, and they did something with it. Taking initiative to love your neighbors is huge. Jesus called it the second greatest commandment.
2) They saw themselves as sent by God to bless their neighbors. Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” (John 20:21) That’s apostolic.
3) They took the opportunity to plant seeds of love and grace. Yes, we’d love it if these folks came into our missional communities, but they didn’t invite people over to pull them in. They simply lived missionally in their neighborhood. I believe those actions reveal something of the love of Jesus and by doing them we will find the people Jesus is drawing to himself.
4) They did it on their own – in response to Christ. I didn’t push for it, organize it, lead it, or hold them to it. I had talked about it off and on for some time – recently a bit more. I had prayed for this sort of thing to happen – for that matter, a few weeks ago, I began inviting Andrew outside before we would meet for discipleship in order to pray for his neighbors. They welcomed whatever advice or encouragement I could give. And Heather and I have modeled this sort of thing with our family. But really, they did it on their own on when we happened to be out of town.
I’m excited and grateful – for what God is doing in the lives of Andrew, Norma, Kent, and Kris, for what God is doing in their neighborhoods, and for the joy of seeing God at work. I am praying for a movement of mission and discipleship on the First Coast and this has some of the trappings of movement!
So, was it a big success? It depends on how you measure success. They were not overrun with crowds. Nobody who came decided on the spot to join the associated missional community. In both cases, a neighbor who promised to come, who seemed excited about the event, did not show. There’s some disappointment there. But…
The neighbors who came appreciated it and were open to doing something like that again. Andrew, Norma, Kent, and Kris made connections at a deeper level with neighbors they had not really known very well before hand. And they had fun. Those who came were a mix of Christians and non-Christians, churched and un-churched, discipled and undiscipled. And Jesus was there at work in neighborhoods on the First Coast.
So organizing a pot-luck or ice-cream social isn’t all that hard to do, is it? Inviting neighbors you don’t know may be a little uncomfortable, but it’s really pretty easy. It just takes a little initiative and thick enough skin to handle a bit of rejection. It’s a little missional baby step. But from my perspective, that baby step is huge.
Please join me in praying for God to do a wonderful work through these huge baby steps.