The first step towards being a missionary is leaving. You have to go. You cannot be a missionary to Kenya unless your get on a plane and leave your home. Likewise, you cannot be a missionary to the city you are in unless you leave your comfort zone and step into the culture.
Throughout Scripture we see God calling people to “go”, “get out”, and “follow” him to where he is calling. Here a few examples of God’s calling to leave:
- In Genesis 12:1 God instructs Abram to leave his family, comfort, and security. “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.”
- God calls Jonah to go into a city that was of a different race and culture and preach God’s word. “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” – Jonah 1:1
- Jesus called the first disciples to leave their family, job, and lifestyle to follow him. “”Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” -Matthew 4:19-20
- Jesus left heaven to come down to take the form of human to save man. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” -John 1:14
So how can leave and go into the culture God has placed us in? How can we act as missionary where we live?
Leaving is an action that God calls us to do. We can have great dreams and visions of God moving through our ministry and on our campus, but nothing will happen unless we go. God won’t use us if we are not in a place to be used.
So in order to be missionaries the first thing we need to do is shift where we are. Here are a few practical ways to leave your comfort zone and get into the culture:
- Spend your time studying/reading in a coffee shop instead of your home and be a regular.
- Do things you like to do, but in public settings. (Example: I love playing soccer. Instead of playing in the church gym with my friends, we formed a team with unbelievers and played in indoor soccer league. We were able to build many relationships with our teammates, other teams, refs, and management)
- Go out of your way to get to know your barista, server, teacher, classmates, etc.
- Intentionally look for ways to talk to people. It’s amazing at how open people are to talking. Get to know who they are.
Do everyone a favor and don’t try to evangelize. Don’t worry about having the right thing to say, don’t go out and practice presenting the 4 spiritual laws… just get out and be in position for God to use you. Become part of people lives. We will talk more about what it means to be an influence in people’s lives, but right now, just go out and build relationships!
The Tangible Kingdom, by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay, gives great insight and guideness on how to leave. Here are a few questions they ask in regard to being in the culture:
- What are some things you love to do that would be easy to invite others to do with you?
- What are some things that might be a struggle to give up in order to spend time connecting with people?
What are some other ways of leaving and stepping in the culture?