How to Do Relevant Missions in Your City
Living our life on mission means to embrace the opportunities that we have on a daily basis in our own city. The Lord has placed each of us on a particular street for a distinct season to be a living demonstration of the hope found in Jesus. Acts 17:26 states, “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.” Our mission is to go and make disciples of all nations. (Matt 28:19) Therefore, we must open our eyes to see the strategic opportunities around us to reach the city – one disciple at a time.
Embrace your city, street, and neighbors with the lenses of a missionary to view the endless ways to engage the lostness all around you. Here are a few ideas to spur your missional journey.
Pray for your city like you never have before! Use prayers filled with scripture and pray over your city with power and truth. (Go here for more on how to pray using scripture.) Pray as you drive by the hospital, schools, & government buildings. Pray for leaders, teachers, policemen, and children. Pray for your neighbors house by house. Pray as you walk the dog. Pray as you wait in line at the grocery store. The key to seeing transformed lives in your city is prayer. A.T. Pierson emphasized the power of prayer: “There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer.”
Engage People Groups
We are currently living in an unprecedented time where the people groups are coming to us in droves! Our cities and towns are now filling with different languages, cultures, and remote people groups. Why should we care about this? Because God does. His heart is for the nations. He has always had people groups in mind with His Gospel plan of salvation and transformation. Begin by seeking out ways to engage and serve our foreign friends. Invite them to your home, share a meal together, join sports or hobbies to interact with various people, eat regularly at ethnic restaurants, etc. Think long-term relationships and invest in people, not a project. Developing genuine friendships will naturally allow us to share our faith and lives with others. Check out ethnéCITY.com for tools and resources.
There will always be more ministry opportunities and needs than we are able to meet effectively. It is vital to depend upon the Lord for guidance and wisdom as we make commitments. Strategic relevancy occurs when you are empowered by God to focus in upon a particular person, group, or location with a desire to see disciples multiplied.
Community service with homeless ministry, ESL, school partnerships, etc. are platforms for ministry in our cities that we can use as a starting place, but these should never be the end game. These avenues allow us to build relationships with people and families in order to share God’s truths with them. Ultimately, we should use these platforms as catalysts for making disciples. Avoid seeing missions as a “project” and rather embrace it as an ongoing lifestyle.
Think beyond occasional volunteering and donating to your local charity to a deeper place where you are regularly developing relationships and discipling others. We are to pour into lives of others “teaching them to observe all that [the Lord] commanded” (Matt 28:20). Ask God to help you find one or two people to invest in deeply with scripture and truths about how to live life as a Christian. This may be someone who is already naturally placed in your life, or it may be the young mother from India whose child attends school with yours.
Evangelism and discipleship are complex. We encounter diverse people with diverse worldviews every day. In order to love people well, we need to become perpetual learners. Carefully listening to others as they express their thoughts, hopes, and questions will help us to love them more fully and share God’s truth with them more effectively. Of course, this takes time. Commit to intentionally invest long-term in the relationships you are building. Jesus was our model as he discipled the twelve and then went deeper still with Peter, James and John.
Each of us is called to be on mission in our city. Though how this looks in individual lives will be diverse and multifaceted with each person and context. Charles Spurgeon made the bold statement, “Every Christian here is either a missionary or an impostor.” Transition your mindset to seeing yourself as a missionary and believe that your feet are the beautiful feet bringing Good News to those around you! (Rom 10:15)