I recently went on a mission trip to New York City with twenty-nine students and adults from our church. Spring Break gave our team the incredible opportunity to serve the wonderful people of this great city. Our mission team spent much of our time in Queens, but was also blessed to see many of the other surrounding boroughs.
As I have reflected on the week and some of the great things God did on our trip, I realized that while New York City and Newcastle are very different, there are also some similarities when it comes to reaching people in both areas for Christ. Here are three simple, but critical, components of effective Christian living of which God reminded me:
First, Christianity is relational. We worked with several different churches on our trip, most of which are relatively new churches. The pastors of these churches face the daunting task of reaching people in the most unreached city in America. We discovered that their approach has to be about building relationships with people in their communities. All of these communities are very diverse, and each presents the unique challenge of connecting with all different types of people.
As I evaluated these churches and communities, I was reminded that whether you are in New York or Newcastle, it all comes down to building relationships with people right around you. When we walked on the streets of New York, there were many “street preachers,” shouting at people. While God can use anything and anyone, most people are turned off by such approaches. But, when we connect with people personally, there is greater receptivity to the Gospel. Christianity has always been about bringing people to Christ, and the best way to do that is by genuinely loving whomever God puts in our path and pointing them to the truth. Truly, the best way to reach the world for Christ is one person at a time.
Secondly, Christianity is intentional. In order to build the relationships mentioned above, life must be approached with great purpose and intentionality. I was amazed at how these pastors approach their daily life. They are deliberate about everything. From where they shop, to where they eat, to where they live, and everything in between, they are highly intentional. When you are desperately trying to reach people, every conversation matters, and therefore, no opportunity can be wasted. This is how every Christian, no matter where you live, should approach life. As I often say at our church, “Life is too short to live accidentally. Christians must live intentionally.” As Christians, our approach every day, whether in New York or Newcastle, should be that everything we do matters. What if we approached life like that? What if we were intentional about every conversation we had? The impact would be significant.
Finally, Christianity is missional. The word missional means “to be on mission.” The last words Jesus gave His Church was to “Go and make disciples of all nations.” In short, be on mission. The consuming thought in every Christian’s mind every day should be the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. When the Gospel consumes the mind, a missional life is sure to follow.
The mission is the most important part of the Christian life, but it must be approached with great relational and intentional attitudes. However, it does no good to be relational and intentional without the Gospel. All three of these things go together, and when put together, incredible opportunities to make a difference for Christ are created. Think of it like this: a missional Christian must be relational and intentional if they want to make an eternal difference. Let that thought seep into your heart and life.
If you are a Christian, how you are approaching your life? Are you on mission for Christ? Are you being relational and intentional? If not, what changes and adjustments do you need to make? Identify them and do what is necessary to be the person God wants you to be. This week, no matter where you are, seek to approach life with the right perspective. Pray for people. Love people. Point people to Jesus with your words and your actions. As you do this, watch how God uses you for His glory. Being on mission is both the greatest privilege and responsibility a Christian bears, and truly, the absolute best way to change the world for Christ is by living this way. Whether you are in New York or Newcastle, the approach remains the same: relational, intentional, and missional. This week and every week, let’s be on mission.