Principles from the Gospels used in diaspora ministry

June 18, 2018

Held accountable to “welcome” the stranger in our land (Matt. 25:35), we recognize that loving the foreigner launches the greater work of the spread of the kingdom. In Luke 10 and John 4, Jesus provides us with principles for sharing the good news with the unreached, unengaged diaspora communities in the two main contexts in which we are likely to engage them.

Luke 10: Engaging diaspora communities
In Luke 10, Jesus details how to enter these communities with the gospel as he sends out the 72. Believers engaging the unreached in other nations follow this passage, and it is also an excellent guide for strategically engaging unreached peoples in America. The following are three principles for entering a diaspora community for first-encounter gospel sharing.

First, Jesus sends his disciples in groups of two with no resources (vs.1, 4.) Pairing up with another believer encourages boldness through accountability, provides support through prayer, and frames the witness of the gospel in the context of the unity of the body. Being empty-handed sets us up to accept the hospitality of the people we are engaging (vs.8.) Taking a drink of water or stepping inside for shelter provides an environment of mutual respect in which the ones receiving the gifts of hospitality leave their host with the gift of the gospel message (vs.9.)

Second, Jesus tells his disciples to pray for laborers to go into the harvest (vs. 2.) Since they are being sent out as laborers in the harvest, this seems an odd request. One implication is that they are praying for themselves, that they may truly be used in the harvest. Another inference is that believers cannot fight over the fruits if we want to reach the unreached. The number of unreached souls in these communities is so great, that even if whole churches divided into gospel-preaching pairs, there would never be enough to engage everyone. There will always be a pressing need for laborers to join with us, a pressing need for prayer, and the hope that God can raise up new believers among the unreached who will also join as laborers.

Finally, Jesus prepares his disciples to invest in the “son of peace” who is open to their message and to move on quickly from rejection (vs. 5-7.) As we enter diaspora communities for first-time sharing, we evaluate the response to the gospel message and react appropriately. Some believers represent these responses as green lights (very interested,) yellow lights (open to hearing more,) and red lights (not interested.) Encouraged to respect the wishes of those who outright reject the message (vs. 10-11,) we are welcomed to invest deeply in those who do accept it.

John 4: For Unexpected, Holy Spirit-Given Encounters
In addition to missional entry into communities, reaching the unreached involves relational gospel sharing with people we encounter unexpectedly. Jesus models how to share the gospel in this kind of situation through his conversation with the Samaritan woman in John 4.

Briefly, here are six principles gleaned from His example:

  1. Be needy (vs. 6-7.) Jesus does not hide His physical weariness and thirst. By accepting a drink from the woman, He helps lower her guard and provides a window for conversation.
  2. Reach across societal, racial or economic boundaries (vs.7-9, 27.) Jesus reaches out to a woman whose ethnicity and moral choices have made her an unappealing target of conversation to most upstanding men in His community.
  3. Put the gospel first in the conversation, literally (vs. 10.) The first words out of the woman’s mouth are a defensive question, but Jesus finds a way to respond immediately with a gospel invitation.
  4. Avoid distractions and be gospel-focused (vs. 13-14.) As the woman raises historical controversies, Jesus continually pursues the thread of God’s salvation plan.
  5. Be straightforward about repentance, salvation by faith, and the person of Jesus (vs. 16-26.) Jesus is kind in His approach but direct in response to questions on these issues. 
  6. Let a new believer feel empowered to talk about their experience (vs. 28-30.) Deep discipleship is a must for any believer, but from their first true encounter with Christ, new believers are equipped to introduce Him to others.

Conclusion
Luke 10 provides guidelines from Jesus for intentional and strategic entry into diaspora communities of unreached peoples. In John 4, Jesus models how believers can share the gospel with people from those same communities as they encounter them in daily living, at work, school, shopping, dining, working out or running errands. The message of Jesus stands out among all other religions and is worth sharing. Not only does He give us His presence and authority for sharing (Matt. 28:18-20,) but by giving us these principles in His word, He guides us on our way.


by Liz C  
/  Contributing Writer

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