In Luke 10, Jesus gave His followers instructions on how to enter the cities, homes and lives of the people they would encounter in the mission He’d given them. Now, as then, most of the unreached will not come to us. We must go to them.
As His followers go about the mission of making disciples today, entering the lives of the lost is one of the first objectives to address. As well as learning what to do, we must also learn what not to do. There are several potential hazards we may encounter. By avoiding these common hazards, we have a better chance of building genuine relationships that open the door for sharing the gospel of Jesus.
Relying too much on events or programs.
One of the most common missteps happens when churches focus so much on events or programs that there is no energy left for building relationships. The goal of entry is always relationships that lead to gospel conversations and disciple-making. Events and programs can play an important role, but the goal is not just to have a big event or a big program. We must make sure our events and programs result in building and developing relationships.
Many times, a focus on the event or program as an end in itself can be counterproductive. The event may be too large, or the program too cumbersome, to facilitate real relationships from forming. Often, the outcome of entry efforts like this is that the church “feels good” about what has been done, but no real missional advance has been made in the field.
As His followers go about the mission of making disciples today, entry into the lives of the lost is one of the first objectives to address.
Moving too quickly.
Another common misstep happens when churches undermine trust and confidence. Many charitable efforts can be perceived by those the church wishes to help as dehumanizing or condescending. An effort to move to gospel presentations too quickly without building authentic relationships can feel like a “bait-and-switch” tactic. These situations can hinder the witness of the church in the community in ways that are difficult to overcome.
Failing to see the big picture.
One additional misstep churches often make is failing to keep entry as a piece of a larger missionary task. An effective entry event will not necessarily conclude with impressive numbers of souls saved or members added to the congregation. Effective entry will, however, result in members of the church building relationships with lost people in the community. It is through those relationships that the gospel is shared, disciples are made and lives are changed.
By avoiding these and other potential hazards in making entry, Christ-followers can build authentic friendships with the lost. In the context of these relationships, the love of Christ can be demonstrated as the gospel is shared on a personal level, leading to great missional impact as disciples are made.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article examines entering new mission fields, the first of six steps in the missionary task, which is adapted from “Foundations,” a publication of the International Mission Board.
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