We preach to our congregation that we need to be sharing the Gospel with people around us. We encourage them to bring their family members and friends that are far from God to church. We remind them that everyone has a story and they need to be willing to share theirs with the unbelievers they meet because everyone needs to know they are loved by God.
The real question yet remains: are we living this out daily? When is the last time you invited someone new to church? When was the last time you shared your story with someone who doesn’t know Jesus personally? Can you even name one person you have a close relationship with who is not a believer?
It is so easy as a busy pastor or church leader to become completely disconnected from those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus. Our days become filled to overflowing with relationships and commitments that are entirely focused on believers. We spend our time discipling, counseling, and teaching Christ-followers. We have a heart for the lost, yet we are completely disconnected from them.
If we don’t figure out a way to intentionally bridge that gap and seek out opportunities to connect with unbelievers, we will stay disconnected long-term. So what does that look like? When our paths only cross people who belong to our congregation, where do we even begin?
First things first, pray. Ask the Lord to open your eyes to see those who don’t know Him. Ask Him to stir your spirit and develop compassion in you for the lost. When we become so far removed it is easy for us also to become numb to their need for Christ.
Then consider these 4 questions:
- Who do you see everyday? Is there someone you don’t have a relationship with, yet you see them just about every day? It may be someone who is merely a passing acquaintance, but when you think about it, you actually cross paths with them almost daily. Maybe it’s the gas station attendant, the cashier at the grocery store down the street, your mailman, or the crossing guard for your child’s school. Look them in the eye. Ask them how they are doing and pause to really listen. Pray for them and once you have had a dozen or so conversations, ask them how you can pray for them. Once you stop overlooking them and begin to treat them as a person with a soul, you will be amazed at the relationship that can develop. Sharing Christ and His love begins with establishing a real relationship.
- Who do you see weekly or monthly? It may be your child’s teacher, the pest control man, the cashier at the dry cleaners, or the receptionist at the gym where you work out, but there is someone you cross paths with frequently that you know nothing about. Work intentionally to change that. Greet them and start a conversation with them. Ask them questions and take the time to listen well. Begin to get to know them and develop a relationship. This is necessary before you can earn the right to speak Truth into their lives and share the Gospel.
- Who haven’t you seen in a while? An old friend, a sibling you haven’t seen in years, or a member of your congregation who left under negative circumstances. Allow the Holy Spirit to bring someone to mind you need to reconnect with. Reestablish the friendship or relationship and build on it. People come in and out of our lives during different seasons, but if the Lord brings someone to mind as you pray, then follow that leading and reach out. Trust Him to prepare their hearts and your heart for whatever His intention for that relationship. It can feel risky, but what a tremendous feeling it is when you see God move as a result of your obedience.
- Who do you want to see? If you take the time to think and ask the Lord to direct your thoughts, He will bring to mind folks who simply need Him. It may be someone you know through your child’s school you need to invite to church. Or your son’s coach who you need to begin to deepen that relationship so you can have the opportunity to invite him to join you at church. This can again feel risky, but all He asks is for you to be obedient and trust Him with results. And perhaps this friendship does not lead to you seeing them accept Christ but investing in someone and loving well is never wasted. God will do great things with that small obedience.
We don’t ever want to become apathetic and simply live in a bubble surrounded by people just like us. That is certainly not the way our Savior lived.
So which question resonates with you and which step will you take this week to intentionally connect with someone who does not know Jesus personally?