We all feel it, don’t we? You experience something beautiful, cool, or amazing, and you’ve just got to share it with someone. Maybe it’s a book, place, thought, or discovery. Whatever, you want those closest to you to know! You want your friends and family to share the joy and wonder you feel.
When the “cool thing” is God’s love for the nations, particularly his concern for people currently without access to the good news, your concern is not just that they share the wonder, but that they join in to solve the problem.
So “practical mobilization” really just means “come share this passion and lean your shoulder into this work with me.” In June we looked at 75 Ways to Put Your Money to Missional Use. Our second installment in the summer list series consists of simple, cheap, and effective ways to bring your friends into your obsession.
21 Easy Ways to Introduce Your Friends to the Nations
- Buy them a book. Ridiculously old fashioned? You bet. But also still effective. I am who I am today in part due to In The Gap: What It Means to Be A World Christian, by David Bryant. If you have a book club (and can forgo Amish romantic fiction for a month), suggest a volume that will introduce club members to a part of the world they might not otherwise discover.
- Do your friends lean more toward film than print? Why not make an armchair journey to Africa or Asia?
- Express your need for their help in hosting a class or event. Nothing invites someone in like the words, “You have a skill I lack. Can you help me with this?”
- Take them on an entry-level mission trip. Visit and serve an unreached people group in your city or nearby. Aim for at least half a day, but not more than two days.
- Invite them to join a short-term prayer group, e.g., 15 minutes before church for four weeks. Even lower commitment: Ask your small group if you can lead a global prayer once a month.
- Make your next small group meeting a potluck, and encourage participants to bring something from a different part of the world. Crack open your copy of Operation World and pray for the nations represented by the food.
- Take your friend out for Indian food. Or Ethiopian. Nervousness about the unfamiliar will keep many people from enjoying these fascinating cuisines and the complex and beautiful cultures behind them. Your experience and encouragement might open new doors.
- Take them along to a visiting foreign lecturer at your university. Or leave the car in the garage and watch a TED talk by a brilliant innovator from another culture. This one might be an interesting start.
- Ask them to get on the mailing list of an expat worker or foreign minister you respect. This one would be a good start.
- Invite them to contribute to work focused on an unreached people. Jesus was right about the proximity of our hearts to our treasure.
- Invite them to attend one night of a Perspectives, Pathways, or Kairos course. Try to be sure the speaker is one who will make them want to take the whole course!
- Introduce them to music meant to mobilize, like that of Perry Lahaie.
- Go meet international students together. Find where they hang out and go meet some. It that’s too open-ended, go with the goal of learning a little Arabic or another language of your choice. Few native speakers will shoo away someone trying to pick up their language.
- Invite your friends to participate in a nearby university’s friendship family program, providing a family connection for an international student.
- Host a sharp, young, cross-cultural worker at your house to share with your friends about her work. Bill it as (and make sure it remains) a non-fundraising event.
- Take a friend with you to volunteer at a local refugee assistance program.
- Visit a mosque, temple, or gurdwara together. (This isn’t cheating on Jesus!)
- Take the kids or your church group on a cultural scavenger hunt – maybe in your closest Chinatown.
- Don’t be annoying about it, but talk about how Jesus connected with people beyond the main flow of his culture, often times the very ones the religious people wanted to avoid!
- If you’re in ministry, invite your friend to pray for and support you.
- Ask your friend questions so you can find common ground, hear their passions, and listen to their concerns. This may happen best over coffee (or tea) and time.
Bonus: Five Ways to Ensure They Stay Away
Want your friends to stay away from your missions stuff? These habits should do the trick handily:
- Constantly bash your home culture for not caring, not being as good/pure/cool as the foreign culture you’re invested in.
- Constantly bash your church (directing particularly nasty invective at your pastor) for not caring about the “real heart of God.”
- Act as if God only loves people who aren’t like them. Or maybe just likes them better.
- Trumpet your cross-cultural accomplishments, while only slightly masking your disdain for “local” missions.
- Don’t care for your friends. Care only for the cause.
» Are you doing any of the things on this list? The first list, I mean! Let us know, and tell us what you’d add.
Shane has been loving Muslims and connecting people who love Jesus with Muslims for more than 20 years. He speaks like he writes – in a practical, humorous, and easy-to-relate-to way – about God’s passion to bring all peoples into his kingdom. Contact Shane to speak to your people.