These days, I hear a lot about churches trying to be more evangelistic or missions-minded. Church leaders may create a new program or come up with a new idea to attract people to the church in order to reach their communities. While the intention behind these programs and ideas may be right on target, I believe evangelism and missions can be much more personal. The special events and weekly meetings of a church are not designed to do the work that we as individual followers should do daily.
As I understand it, Jesus did not talk about how the church needs to have creative programs in order to reach people. Instead He gave that job to each one of us as His followers.
Consider what Jesus says in Acts 1:8:
• You will receive power.
• You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the Earth.
• I will be with you.
We are all missionaries.
Some people are called to live out this calling in another cultural context, but all of us are called to live it out wherever we are. That’s what living missionally is all about.
Living missionally doesn’t come down to a formula, but I must admit: I was inspired by a certain brand of computers in regards to how to think and live missionally wherever I am. This little non–formula is called “iPOC3.” I am not a huge fan of acrostics, but iPOC3 reminds me of some basic things that I can do on a daily basis, no matter where I am, to work toward that end:
Pray: Prayer should be the foundation for all we do. Through prayer, I have seen people who were previously closed to spiritual things really open up. I have seen hard–to–reach areas become receptive through prayer. Prayer is the essential piece for living a missional life. We often make time for prayer during our quiet times, but prayer should also be an active part of the rest of the day. As you move about in your daily life, pray. Pray for open doors. Pray that God will show you people with whom you can talk. Pray for opportunities. Pray that God will open up the hearts of the people wherever you are.
Observe: As you pray, you also observe where God is at work. Observe the people and discover possible needs that you can meet and ways that you can connect with them.
Connect: This final point can involve almost anything as you relate to people. Connecting with people can be striking up a conversation with a post office clerk. It can be walking with an elderly person as he or she crosses the street. It can be helping someone carry his or her groceries when it’s clear the load is a little too heavy.
At the end of the day, I believe evangelism today is more than a simple formula. It is your actions toward people. Evangelism is highly relational, and God will provide you opportunities to connect with people.
Continuously seek to have spiritual Conversations: The second and third Cs of iPOC3 would drive home the importance of continuously seeking to enter spiritual conversations with people as you connect and as God opens doors. You may even be able to strike up a lasting friendship with someone you connect with during a typical day. If that’s the case, who knows? You may even find that the person is interested in spiritual things and might be open to hanging out regularly to talk about life and spirituality. From my experience, that is a much better, less threatening, often more sensitive option than simply taking that person to a local church in order to be taught more. That’s because I believe that, as followers of Jesus, we are all equipped with the ability to speak truth into their lives and tell them about Jesus. If that sounds intimidating, go back to that Acts 1:8 thing. “You will be my witnesses,” Jesus says. He will give us power and help us in this. He promises.
To recap, iPOC3 comes down to ...
I connect with people Continuously Seeking to have spiritual conversations
In conclusion, I need to add that iPOC3 is not a program or something else to do in your church. For me it has been an easy way to remember what I should be doing as I go about my day, but there’s no magic formula. Living missionally is about who we are and what we are becoming. Pray and seek out what God might want that to look like in your daily life.