Last year I released a book called, Where Rivers Flow. The book was written as a practical guide to help people capture the heart of God and share it across the globe and across the road. It exists to equip you to be the church wherever you live, work, and play. Recently, a young man in England who read the book sent me these thoughts on the book.
Wow, I found it super challenging, especially as someone who has a passion for seeing others come to know God. One thing I’ve found is as I take on more responsibilities at Church or a Christian organisation; I become much worse or at least inconsistent in discipline and talking to my non-Christian friends. My focus had switched to discipling and growing my Christian friends. I wondered if you had any insight or wisdom in finding that balance between discipling new and established Christians?
With his permission I’m sharing with you, my reply.
What a great question. I once heard it said that it takes 7 years for a Christian to lose all significant relationships with the non-Christians in their lives. (As a side note- this is why I am so passionate about church planting as it forces established Christians out of their Christian bubbles).
This can be for many reasons. They may get too busy serving at their local church, they may find it hard to maintain deep friendships with those that don’t have the same passions that they now have, they may feel as if they need to withdraw from some friends as they aren’t “strong enough” to be around them. Whatever the reason, the answer to my question is the same.
Evangelism takes intentionality. Intentional intercession and intentional interaction.
In order to reach those that don’t yet know Jesus, you have to know those that don’t yet know Jesus and you have to pray for them too.
This may require saying no to a Church event so that you can go to a friend’s party or simply drop by his or her home.
You may need to wake up an hour early to pray for those that don’t yet know Jesus.
You may have to walk across the road and meet your neighbors and ask them for a meal.
You will naturally get sucked into what requires less effort. This is why people drown on beaches. They get caught in a rip, and without realizing it they get sucked in.
Church world is safer and often more encouraging. It was the Romans and the Jews that crucified Jesus, not His own disciples.
So, let me provide 3 further thoughts, and then shoot you a prayer.
1. You can’t do everything, but you can do something. Maybe it’s just one neighbor, not all 8. Maybe it’s talking your earphones out as you walk and seeing who you will meet. It might be praying for a stranger on the street. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. See the one, stop for the one. One plus one will eventually equal multitudes.
2. Know your season. At present, I am a stay at home Dad, an author and an itinerant preacher. I’m praying for my neighbors, I’m having and open to conversations, but if I’m honest I don’t have a whole lot of time to invest into many relationships at the moment other than my kids. My number primary times of evangelism at the moment are in transit (planes, trains and automobiles) and when eating out or shopping, because of my season. Last year, I was with non-Christian neighbors daily. This year, not so much. This is my season, right now. What’s yours? God may be asking you to make disciples of Christians at this time, awesome! He might ask you to go live in a monastery, He may want you to move to a country where you don’t even speak the language, these things are ok. Do what He is asking you to do, and achieve what you can in your season. You may be at a place where you have to make “time in time” and take the opportunities you get along the way. I think of the early disciples, they were judged for not fasting while others were, but it wasn’t their season (Matthew 9:14). There is a season for everything. As long as you’re being faithful to your season you will be just fine. I will caution though, don’t use this as an excuse to shut down promptings and opportunities along the way. God is gracious and can still use you “out of season”.
3. Let God build His church. This statement is really two thoughts in one. The first is this, you don’t have to do everything at your local church. No amount of running around or programming will build the church, only Jesus does that. It’s ok to say no to some really good things at church, so that you can say know to some God things that He may be leading you to in evangelizing the world. Secondly, it will be God that draws your friends to Himself, not you. So just as you shouldn’t burn yourself out within the church, don’t do so outside of it either. Be an evangelist, but be an evangelist who uses prayer as his main tool, not busyness. Pray for the lost, sit with Jesus and ask for Him to give you His heart for the lost, and then watch as He gives you opportunities and grace to share His love with those around you, day after day.
Bless you friend and thanks for the great question,
PS- You can get “Where Rivers Flow” HERE or through Amazon, Apple, Nook, Kindle etc. etc. or if you’re in Melbourne, just contact me for a copy.