October 2018 Blog Theme: Overcoming Evangelism Challenges
You have been strategically placed to make an eternal impact.
You are where you are for a reason. There are no mistakes or coincidences with God. He placed you at your job, in your neighborhood, at your school and in your social network for a reason. You were handpicked and strategically placed to make an eternal impact on the people you see every day.
Years ago when people thought of living on mission, they envisioned someone called to the “mission field.” They would board a plane or ship headed to a distant land and culture, and there they would reach people with the Gospel. But today, that world has come to us. Living on mission doesn’t mean “going to be a missionary.” It means “thinking like a missionary” right where you live.
I’ll never forget hearing a leader speak about this to a small group of pastors. He picked up a black dry-erase marker and drew a large circle on the whiteboard behind him. “This is your city,” he said, drawing straight lines through the circle to represent highways that slice through the expanding metroplex from all different directions. “Now here are your churches,” he said, while drawing small boxes with steeples on top all inside the circle.
“Even if every church was filled to capacity, they still could not hold everyone in your city,” he continued. All the pastors nodded in agreement.
“Now, this is your people,” he said as he began to fill the circle with dots. “The people in your church spend most of their time in the city. They go to schools, they work in business complexes, they are on baseball teams, and they live in neighborhoods scattered all over the city.”
Every eye was transfixed on this simple diagram.
Then he said, “God’s plan is to scatter His people throughout the whole culture, to embed them in every facet of your community, and then to activate them with the Holy Spirit to reach the people around them with the hope of the Gospel.”
As I rocked back in my seat and thought about it, I realized God’s plan is incredibly simple and genius. He has already placed you where He needs a faithful witness. He has already dispersed His people like salt grains scattered on a meal, and now He wants to release them to intentionally and passionately live on mission for Him right where they are planted.
Just think what a difference it would make if every Christian in your school was praying and working together to reach that school. Just envision what it would look like if every believer in your office complex or neighborhood was working together to reach your lost co-workers and neighbors. That would be much more than good; that would be revolutionary! This is what God has called you to do — be His witness in the field where He has planted you.
In (Matthew 9.35-38 ESV) Jesus is about to send His disciples out to share the Gospel among the people they know, in the cities where they grew up. “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the Gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’”
In week two, we looked at this passage and saw how Jesus reached out to the hurting and displaced. We saw how Jesus had compassion on those in crisis. Now, I want you to look at something else in this passage. Look at the word picture Jesus uses to describe their areas of influence. He said, “Hey guys, I’m sending you out into a harvest field, and this field is filled with a crop that is ready to be brought in. So pray that the Father will send more workers into the field to work alongside you.”
This is an excerpt from the book Reach Your World by Craig Etheredge, which you can purchase here.
Because I grew up in a farming community, the term “harvest field” conjures up all kinds of images in my mind. I can see rows and rows of towering cornstalks ready to be harvested. I can see golden waves of grain ready to be cut down and brought into the barn. In every case, farmers are working a field that is their field. They either own it outright or they live on it and work it. They know the boundaries of their field. They know the crop is their responsibility, and they take great joy in bringing in a successful crop.
In the same way, you have been given a field to work. It is the spot where God has placed you to do His kingdom work. It is clearly identifiable. It has boundaries. There are people in that field. It is a place where you are already engaging and meeting people.
Over the years, I’ve discovered that God has placed every person in four fields: where you live (your neighborhood, apartment), where you work (your office, business contacts), where you learn (the school where you or your family attends) and where you play (your sports teams, civic clubs, business organizations or hobbies). God has placed you in these four fields.
The first step to living on mission for the long haul is to identify your four fields and then determine which field is ripe for harvest. In the Appendices of this book, you will find a “Living on Mission: Field Guide.” This week, we are going to be working through that tool to help you identify your four fields and then narrow down your focus to just one field where you believe God is at work. As you narrow your focus, we will show you how to work your field so that you see a harvest of people come to know Jesus!
Note: Before we move forward, let me remind you of two very important things. First, the field that is most receptive to the Gospel may not be the first field that comes to your mind. Be open for the Holy Spirit to direct you to where you need to be spending your time and cultivating relationships. Second, just because one field is open and receptive doesn’t mean that it will always be that way. Oftentimes one field will be receptive for a while, but then things will change. People will move. New people will come into that field who are not as receptive to you or the Gospel. At that time, you may need to refocus on another field in which God has placed you. Be flexible to change. Be sensitive to how the Spirit is moving and directing you.
Written by Craig Etheredge
This blog is an excerpt that comes from our book Reach Your World, which you can purchase here.