Hopefully, you are convinced that planning is important when cultivating a heart to make Christ known (see discussion in last blog). So, what steps do you take in making a plan? Below are a few things you might want to include when planning how to minister on your block or when training others how to minister.
First: Learn and Commit
Learn your culture. Engaging college students will be very different than serving in the inner city.
Love your community and be invested in it. Ask God to teach you to love where he has you.
Pray for the place in which you live, work, and spend your time.
Pray specifically for your neighbors.
A buddy of mine made map of our street, with blank squares representing the homes on our street. As we meet our neighbors we desire to fill in the plots with the names of our neighbors and in doing so create a prayer sheet. The workplace, regulars at the gym, regulars at the barber shop, etc. are great examples of prayer lists.
Think through ten people in your community that you would love to share the gospel with. Write their name down and spend extended time in prayer specifically for them. Ask God to give you courage and opportunity to engage them in Christ.
Write down specific prayer request and prayers answered. You will be able to see and remember evidences of God's Grace as he does things in you and through you.
Third: Schedule and Plan
Carve out time in your day where you will live outside your home and get to know your neighbors. For example, Tuesday at 6-7:30 is your mission time. You definitely can go out more than the time specified. It is simply accountability to ensure you at least engage weekly.
Begin writing down the specific plan for you, your family, and/or your disciple to be missional in your community.
Go door to door and meet or reacquaint yourself with your neighbors.
Research community functions, gatherings, club meetings, parties and decide which ones you would like to get involved in.
Regularly walk your community and be willing to talk to people who are outside.
Take unsolicited gifts that can bless your neighbors periodically, i.e. cookies, muffins.
Have people over for dinner. Sara and I try to have someone over for dinner in our home from our local body twice a month and someone not from our church but in our community twice a month.
Schedule time to rest and have fun. If you don't recharge your batteries in Christ, burnout will be highly likely.
Periodically reassess your plan. Prayerfully consider you plan, and be willing to change it if necessary.
A Quick Note:
We often find ourselves doing many things on the list above but yet struggling to make the gospel clear. This is because of many reasons, two in particular:
1. Usually the gospel doesn't just come up. This is true. However, the gospel will come up when we bring it up. Let's be courageous as we neighbor.
2. I think because of our passion to make Christ known we begin to make neighboring too complicated. The result is that we stop being obedient and replace it with will based, strategic friendship tactics. This reality is easily detected because you will start acting more like the unbeliever and less like yourself in order to be liked or respected or whatever your aim is.
Let's remember together to be who we are and not compromise for approval.