Neil Cole on Living Missionally
We asked Neil Cole to spend an hour with a group of ”church planters” on a phone conference… just to pick his brain a bit. He gave us quite an earful on living the missional lifestyle. His biggest challenge was that Christians tend to have few, if any, deep, personal relationships with nonChristians. I suppose we all know this, but it was a good kick in the booty to give some real thought to being intentional about real, deep, nonChristian friendships.
Neil’s challenge, which is well documented in his book Organic Church, is to get out of the ”Christian ghetto” and to do life, as Christians, in the smoking section.
My hope is that as we simplify church and programs that we are freed up to actually live the kind of 24/7 everyday-missional life we are meant to live.
Neil offered some direct pointers starting with the necessity of prayer. He mentioned four types of prayers that he regularly engages in.
- On a daily basis be begs God for the souls of a specific list of people that he keeps.
- He prays the Luke 10:2b prayer asking God to raise up workers and asking God to raise up workers from the harvest itself. You can read more about the Luke 10:2b prayer virus here and here.
- He prays against strongholds that may be keeping certain people or people-groups from opening their hearts to the Gospel.
- When the opportunity arises, he prays with and for the nonChristian for their needs so that they can encounter God in their own life.
Neil also offered four suggestions for building relationships with nonChristians:
- Listen. We need to connect with them in their world first. This is, after, just basic relationship. Caring about them.
- Build bridges into their world. Engage in social activities with them that are part of their world.
- Ask good questions that help them get in touch with the condition of their life and soul.
- Break the sound barrier. At the right time, do not be afraid to let them know who Jesus Christ is.
If this sounds like some kind of canned ”program” approach to friendship evangelism, that would be because of the way I have summarized it here. It’s not meant to be that way. It’s simply about loving others and engaging with them fully and honestly as friends. If we are doing this, we will certainly be praying for them, listening to them, sharing life with them, and opening our own life to them.
The challenge, again, is that we are so much more comfortable befriending like-minded Christians than not-like-minded nonChristians. For me, It’s about being willing to be incarnational with my life just as Jesus was and is.