Jeff Christopherson on Uniting to Disciple a Neighborhood

Jeff Christopherson is a church planter, pastor, author and Missiologist at the Send Institute—an interdenominational church planting and evangelism think tank.

Recently, we asked a penetrating question: Who owns the spiritual condition of your neighborhood?

It’s fascinating to consider the missional potency of a clear answer to this simple question. What if everywhere a follower of Jesus lived there was clear missionary ownership aimed at declaring and demonstrating the gospel in that same place? What if every local church took spiritual ownership of the gospel message getting to every man, women, boy, and girl who lives within the shadow of their own steeple?

The impact would be staggering.

Now, let’s add another strategic layer to this line of thinking. What if kingdom citizens worked together in taking responsibility for the spiritual condition of their neighborhoods? This could happen in one of two ways.

First, there are neighborhoods across North America where more than one believer, or one believing family unit, lives. In these places, Christ-followers, regardless of whether or not they attend the same local church, could partner together to engage their neighbors with the gospel. Or, fellow church members from the same local church could partner with one another to reach their respective neighborhoods.

There’s an unending array of options on how to proceed.

A couple could offer to come over and handle the grill and food stations for a neighborhood cookout in order to free a Christian brother or sister to engage their neighbors. A parent could offer to take care of children for a playdate so that a neighbor could spend time caring for a friend going through a particularly difficult season of life. Believers could provide financial resources so that a person in their small group could meet a tangible need or bless a neighbor with whom they’ve been trying to build a relationship.

These options all foster a unique power in evangelism through community because the following factors are in play:

Collaborative Learning

Community evangelism allows us to share best practices for vibrant witness to the truth of Jesus Christ. There’s a certain necessity for R&D as we engage our neighbors and when we are working synergistically with others. When we share stories of successes and failures, we aid the missionary potency of our friends by mutually modeling the way of disciple-making to one another.

Yes, there are numerous blogs and books written on this subject, but it is far better to, in real-time, learn soft skills from co-laboring neighbors who are working the same harvest together. In this, they have the ability to share specific “eureka” moments that can be immediately applied.

Strategic Gifting

When we read Paul’s illustration of the church as a body made up of different parts, we’re often prone to think of these various giftings as singularly deployed within the church’s internal organizational machinery. Certainly, such organizational labor is needed, but we should first think in terms of the church’s external gospel obligation.

What if we turned those gifts outward and partnered with other members of Christ’s body to collaboratively use our various gifts to live as disciple-making missionaries? Those gifted in serving, hospitality, teaching, giving, and evangelistic harvesting could function seamlessly to leverage their shared capacity in order to see people far from Jesus find their hope in him.

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Source: Christianity Today