Everyday missionaries don’t just study, learn, and sit around all day reflection on the gospel in a quiet room. They have an urgency to act — living out their faith in real life. It’s vital to transition from mission foundation to mission practice.
There are four practices that can be identified by studying scripture, the life of Jesus, and the ministry of Paul. Identify the people around you that need Jesus. Invest into a relationship with them. Invite them into true discipleship. Encourage them to increase by sending them to do the same.
You can’t meet the people who need to meet Jesus if you are sitting still.
Identify - people who need the gospel
As followers of Jesus, our job is to identify people in our sphere of influence and share the gospel with them.
How do you do this? Start where you already are. Go where you already go. Just do it with new eyes.
When we combine our natural rhythms or passions with the gospel and use them to build relationships, powerful things can happen. Our passions or placement can help identify opportunities for sharing the gospel.
To identify places where God can work through you, look at the needs that are around you. Look in the margins of the world. Who are the people others tend to shy away from or avoid? Who are the “untouchables”? Often being an everyday missionary requires stepping out and over social boundaries, looking for opportunities to identify the marginalized as you seek to put the gospel on display. After all, didn’t Jesus do the same? Consider his encounters with the woman at the well or the tax collectors. John 4:1, Matt 9:9
Identifying who God is leading you to may be as simple as taking a short walk with your eyes open.
Invest - in others as you share the gospel
The next step is to take action and actually invest into those whom you have identified. True missional living goes beyond just recognizing needs. It involves finding direct ways to meet those needs. Investing into others also means more than just identifying the fact that someone that you’ve come into contact with needs Jesus. Investment means you actually take steps to pursue relationship with them. The process of investment into another person acts as a primer in your relationship. This primer is what provides the ability to communicate freely about the gospel throughout your relationship.
Don’t misunderstand me, it’s not always necessary that you develop a deep months old relationship with someone before talking about Jesus. Sometimes the spirit empowers us to have conversations about Christ with a total stranger. We should all be willing to be led by the spirit into those kinds of conversations often. However, it’s likely that you’ll find that there are relationships all around you that are waiting to be invested in. There’s a statement that has had a huge impact on me over the last few years. “They won’t care what you know until they know that you care.” Investment into someone’s life is the process of convincing them that you care for them, no matter the cost.
Invite - people into disciple-making relationships
Let the investment you’ve made lead to intentional communication of the gospel message, as people transition from death to life in Christ, walk with them as they grow in spiritual maturity.
Once investment is made you’ll begin to realize the areas of the person’s life where they desperately need the gospel to intervene. And then you’ll find that they’re willing to hear and trust you because of the relational investment you’ve made. You are then free to speak truth into their life. I wouldn’t worry about how to fit discipleship into the relationship you have developed. If Jesus is important to you, then as your relationship grows, He will naturally come up in conversation. When sharing Christ is the sole purpose behind all your relationships you’ll find every opportunity to offer Him up as the solution to the struggles and circumstances in your friends’ lives.
Increase - disciple-making by sending people to make more disciples
After you’ve identified someone who needs Jesus, invest in them with the care and love of Christ, communicate the gospel message and lead them nearer to Jesus, it’s time for them to do the same.
The disciple making process is never fully complete. It’s certainly not complete in any of our own discipleship relationships until those that we are discipling are making disciples. It does not, it cannot, stop with you.
Portions of this post, including the Identify, Invest, Invite, Increase structure is adopted from the book “Life on Mission” by Aaron Coe and Dustin Willis.