This article was originally published on Saturatetheworld.com by Ben Connelly, Director of Training for Saturate. Founded by Jeff Vanderstelt, Saturate seeks to be a catalyst for the gospel movement happening in North America and beyond.
Jeff Vanderstelt will be the featured guest during a webinar (hosted by Grant Skeldon) on Wednesday, July 29, at 10:00 a.m. PT / 1:00 p.m. ET on “Serving the Community During COVID-19.” To register, click here.
One of my favorite things in my book A Field Guide for Everyday Mission is the “101 ways” we suggested, to help followers of Jesus engage not-yet-believing neighbors, co-workers and friends in winsome, tangible, and meaningful ways. In a season where most of the world is locked down, it is my conviction that God still calls his people to live on his mission, displaying and declaring the gospel, even while in lockdown. This blog gives five easy ways to do this…but I hope they spark creativity; there are plenty of others!
Commit to a Weekly Check-in with Someone You Know
Maybe it’s a leaving a note for a vulnerable friend, having an “across-the-street” conversation with a neighbor you only sort-of know, or calling a relative you haven’t spoken with in years. In “COVID time” (as opposed to “normal time”) all bets are off on normal rhythms, and people across the world are getting in touch in new ways. It’s the perfect time to start, or rekindle, phone or in-person conversations. Commit to getting in touch in a meaningful way with someone who doesn’t know Jesus, once a week. Ask how they’re doing; what they feel; if they need anything. Share how you’re finding hope and rest, and point to Jesus.
Host Gatherings (Even Digitally) and Honor Those Who Gather
Gatherings still happen during “COVID time”; they simply take creativity, and often, wifi. Digital dinners or happy hours are popping up across society, as are sunset-watching parties from respective driveways, socially-distanced walks, prayer meetings from across property lines, etc. Once you create reasons to get people together, certainly play the game, have the dinner, or pray…but also focus on the people: celebrate them, even in “small” things (this shows biblical honor and generosity), and listen to them well (Proverbs charges us to “draw out the heart”). Fun displays godly joy. And we are to be known by love; let’s love well!
Show Grace by Blessing People
Simply go above and beyond. If you have a grocery pickup, grab treats, wipe them down, and leave them on your neighbors’ porches with an encouraging note, maybe sharing hope and a meaningful passage of scripture. If you bake cookies, take them to a co-worker’s — or your child’s classmate’s — home, standing back from the porch and serenading them. If you pick up dinner or drink (from a local business of course, to bless them in this challenging time!) surprise a friend or loved one by bringing one to them as well. God lavishly blesses his children, and he does so in part so we can display his lavish generosity to others — the less reason there is for the generosity, the better. That’s what we call “grace!”
Talk about God, in Everyday Ways
It may seem simplistic, but one of the most meaningful truths about Christians is that we depend on God for everything; we turn to God with needs and sorrows; and we credit God for provision and joys. As folks share concerns, worries, and sorrows — or joys, celebrations, and common graces — with you, God the Spirit might lead you to see the moment as an “open door” to share your perspective and point to God. After all, the Apostle Peter reminds us, “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15). You don’t have to be comprehensive; just honest in small truths. You don’t have to worry about responses; that’s up to God. People talk about what they find important, so simply, winsomely talk about Jesus!
Pray with People, and Circle Back to Those You Prayed With
In most scenarios, even people who claim no faith are open to being prayed for. If nothing else, they consider your prayers to be a kind gesture. This reality has become more overt during “COVID time,” as people are searching for answers and meaning more urgently than they might in “normal time.” Praying with people displays your faith, even if it’s different than theirs. Pray for God to meet needs. Pray that God would prove himself in areas of worry. Celebrate God for graces and celebrations. Honestly acknowledge areas of your own disbelief, and thank God for meeting you in them. And pray for God to meet, show himself, bolster, and bless them. As a side not, even following up on things you prayed for can be meaningful. People long to be heard, and a follow-up means you listened.
These are five ways to display and declare the gospel, among many others. Try ‘em, and/or create similar ways of your own. But let’s pursue God’s Great Commission and live on God’s mission, even in lockdown.