Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Going Into All the World... Locally

By Tiana Murray
adapted from Global City Mission newsletter 

The church has a habit of drawing people out of their spheres of influence. People commute twenty or more minutes away to service, are encouraged to get involved in this church ministry or that Bible study, and then spend the rest of their weeks in their respective neighborhoods, far from the church and the church community as a whole. The extraction of believers from their local communities waters down the potential influence churches and Christians could have in the places they work, live, and interact on a daily basis.

In the same vein, Christians have a habit of trying to draw people into the church to be saved rather than meeting non-believers where they are at. Rather than getting deeply involved in the communities in which they reside, surrounding themselves with the unreached people groups around them, Christians extract potential believers from their families and communities and bring them within the church walls. Of course, Christians should gather to worship together regularly, but far deeper ministry and relationships can be built directly within a person's immediate circle of influence.

Global City Mission aims to share the Gospel through individuals embedded in their communities, making "outposts of Kingdom life where people already live out their lives." Christians are not called to bring the world to them, but to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. "All the world" starts in the communities in which we find ourselves, and in fact, New York has brought "all the world" to us.

The established community of many people groups is more important than the church realizes. These potential believers have to wrestle with the questions, "How will this affect my family? What will my Muslim/Hindu/Buddhist neighbors think? Will I still be accepted?" By not reaching out to people where they are at, the church misses out on the opportunity to reach out where the Gospel is the most relevant to their lives.

Furthermore, through reaching out to individuals in their communities, the Gospel is able to spread organically through new believers who come from cultures where the group dynamic is of the utmost importance. Global City Mission says, "Persons of peace are the gateway people through whom a new community of faith may emerge in a neighborhood and/or among a people group. Each person of peace represents the potential of a new church." By reaching out to individuals in their communities, whole people groups can have the opportunity to hear the Good News of Jesus. This is a key to sustainable church growth: the outsider steps back to let the Holy Spirit move through local, insider-individuals to reach whole communities.

As Christians, we must have a presence in our local communities, bringing the Gospel to the people we see daily, rather than relying on a church building to do the work for us. Only then will the Gospel become a part of the fabric of community life among the unreached peoples of New York.

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