Jesus modeled a deployed lifestyle. He left heaven—that’s really leaving home base—to live among people. He talked with, prayed for, cried with, and touched countless individuals. Jesus showed up in all kinds of places—from synagogues to water wells to private homes to fishing boats. Jesus attended weddings, funerals, dinner parties, and other gatherings of family and friends. He taught people how to become His disciples as a natural part of daily interactions with them. How can you be more like Jesus in this regard? After three decades of practicing, plus watching others do this effectively, here are some practical keys to having a more intentional gospel awareness of people around you. Do these things if you want to develop a deployed mind-set as a believer on a mission.
Be engaged. When you are with people, are you really with them? Or, are people around you part of the wallpaper? Do you even notice them? Are you distracted by other tasks or priorities? If so, make the choice to turn off your cell phone and declutter your calendar so you can focus on genuinely connecting with people.
One man heard me teach on reaching friends with the gospel and was particularly intrigued by our family’s outreach through youth sports. While our children were growing up, all three played multiple sports. We were always on the way to or from some practice or game year-round. Young athletes tend to play multiple sports with the same other youngsters so we were frequently with the same parents at practices, games, team parties, and fund-raisers. We didn’t need a visitation program to spend our evenings with lost people; we were with them multiple nights every week. Over the years, we were intentional about engaging these friends with the gospel. Several of them have become Christians—by far the most rewarding part of our family’s sports lifestyle.
Inspired by our story, this fellow told me, “That really works for you. I’m also heavily involved in youth sports but don’t seem to have the same opportunities to share the gospel you do.” We talked about his situation, but I had no real solutions for him. A few weeks later, however, we happened to be at a game where our children were playing against each other. During the game, I talked with various parents/friends—catching up on their families, talking about problems at work, laughing at the funny things happening on the field, and following up on past conversations (like updates on sick parents, etc.). My friend spent the entire game on his cell phone. He made call after call, no doubt doing something more important than engaging the people watching the game. His problem was simple: he was at the game, but not really at the game. His thoughts, focus, and energy were someplace else.
Jeff Iorg, Unscripted: Sharing the Gospel as Life Happens (Ashland, OH: New Hope Publishers, 2014).
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