Engaging the mission is about following Jesus into the community and being about God’s business. It is a way of relating to and loving others within the community in which you are located.

To help resource you in Engaging the Community, let’s focus on two distinct community ideas. The first is koinonia found in the New Testament. The second is the community in which your congregation is located. In both communities, you can share the gospel and grow your relationship with Jesus and the people entrusted to your care.  

To focus on these two concepts, remember that you are about God’s business. So, through the lens of being a follower of Jesus, what does it mean to live in community with other followers of Jesus and what does it mean to be a follower of Jesus in a diversity of people and beliefs?  

It is important to know and understand koinonia as you engage the community in which you are located. So, let’s start with koinonia, the New Testament understanding of fellowship or community.   

Read: Acts 2:42:47 

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone because many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.  

Reflect 

The first followers of Jesus, “…devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship…” Gathering in community was important. It is mentioned three times: They devoted themselves to “fellowship” (verse 42), “All who believed were together” (verse 44), and “Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple…” (verse 46). Being together was an important characteristic of their faith development.  

Koinonia

This fellowship was known as “koinonia.” Before describing what “koinonia” is, let’s identify what it is not. Koinonia is not formal gatherings for potluck dinners nor informal gatherings of people who are like us. Koinonia is neither being a part of a country or civic club nor is it like being a part of a service organization. Koinonia is more than participating in worship. All of these are good and needed, but they do not describe what those early followers of Jesus experienced as koinonia. 

Koinonia for them was gathering to listen and learn of the gospel (apostles’ teaching). They were trying to make sense of what they had experienced at Pentecost. Gathering was to eat together, (breaking bread). It was an expression of God’s love, agape, working for the good of others, especially those who had little to eat. Gathering to pray (prayers). They gathered with glad and generous hearts in gratitude to God, seeking direction on how to live their lives as followers of Jesus. 

Koinonia and John Wesley

It is this same koinonia that John Wesley experienced when he expressed that “I felt my heart strangely warmed, I felt I did trust Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”  

Wesley was motivated to establish a koinonia system to help others, whose hearts were also “strangely warmed.” He was surrounded by people who not only wanted to hear the gospel but wanted to experience it. They lived in a time of spiritual apathy in which there was a disconnect between themselves and their faith. There was also an institutional disconnect that created disillusionment and distrust of the church.  

Wesley’s Aldersgate experience became a model for heartfelt faith. For the people whose hearts were warmed by God’s love, Wesley developed a system to help keep the heartfelt faith alive with experiences of care, support, encouragement, and correction.  

Koinonia and Methodism

He developed community by using class meetings and bands in which followers of Jesus were nurtured in faith and held accountable with compassion. People cared for and looked after each other’s souls. It was in the fellowship where loving hearts set other hearts on fire.  

Koinonia was woven into the DNA of those early Methodist Christians. Whether you are a United Methodist or not, this koinonia has shaped your faith as a Jesus follower. It is an essential experience in assisting you in becoming who you are created to be.  

Embodying Koinonia

Although I did not know it then, my earliest memories of faith are of people teaching, caring, supporting, and encouraging me in the faith community. Whether it was a fourth-grade Sunday school teacher telling me I would go somewhere else in the world to tell others of Jesus, a junior high school teacher who taught me to pray and to listen for God to speak, a high school teacher who cried with the class the day after a major disaster, or the Jesus followers who nurtured me in faith with compassion from a child to an adult, koinonia was part of my experience in becoming who I am today.  

Over the years, I have attempted to develop koinonia through small groups or other fellowship experiences. Still, the most common experience I have experienced koinonia was when it was woven into the fabric of the community of faith. It was when other followers of Jesus, whose hearts were warmed with God’s love, shared their faith and love with one another, the larger community, and the world.  

Heartfelt Faith

As a follower of Jesus and a Christ-centered leader, you lead with a heartfelt faith. There are two aspects of this heartfelt faith: the experience of God’s love in each individual’s life and the gathering of followers of Jesus who have experienced God’s love. Think clearly about providing opportunities for the “warm heart” and the structures of care that will lead to transforming individual lives, communities, and the world.  

When Wesley insisted that “true Christianity cannot exist without the inward experience and the outward practice of justice, mercy, and truth,” he gave us our focus on koinonia.  

So, take a moment to reflect upon these questions for yourself:

  • How is my relationship with Jesus growing in depth and expression?
  • How am I living out my heart being warmed by God’s love?
  • How do I grow in faith and live out my faith in meaningful ways? 
  • Take a moment to reflect upon this question for your faith community:
  • Am I developing the structures of care where people can grow in grace and discipleship, where the fruits of the spirit are being cultivated, and where loving hearts are setting others’ hearts on fire?  

The early followers of Jesus “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship…” So, one of the characteristics of engaging the community is to develop koinonia, Christian community. 

Respond 

Beware of moments when your heart is “strangely warmed” by the presence of Jesus in the lives of the people you encounter and in the situations you find yourself today. Continue to be mindful of how you are growing in faith and living in God’s love.  Be intentional in extending God’s love to the people around you. Ask God to help you be a blessing to someone, somewhere today. 

Prayer 

O God, thank you for your fellowship so I can grow in my faith. By your grace, continue introducing me to people who can provide care, support, instruction, and correction. Thank you for the ways you have provided for me to become more of the person you have created me to be. Give me the faith to trust you more. Make me aware of the people around me today so that I might become a blessing to someone, somewhere today. I offer myself to be in koinonia with you in the name of Jesus. Amen. 

Return 

Give God thanks for the people you encountered today. In whom did you meet Jesus? How was your heart strangely warmed? What structures did you put in place to give others care, support, encouragement, and hope? What do you need to do to lead others into koinonia? Give God thanks for the opportunities you had to become more who God has created you to be. 

As you learn and grow in engaging the community, keep in mind, who you are is how you lead.

Next we will look at the second concept of community in Part Three of Engaging In Mission: Engaging the Community.

As a Christ-centered leader, in a rapidly changing world, you have the responsibility to engage your church in loving and caring for your community. By centering on God’s mission, embracing your local context, and engaging with the community, you lead with purpose and authenticity. You have the opportunity to lead your church in reclaiming its role as a vibrant and relevant force in the lives of the people in your community and beyond. 

Engaging the mission is about following Jesus into the community and being about God’s business. It is a way of relating to and loving others within the community in which you are located.

Engaging In Missions

As much as churches talk about caring and serving, your life changes when you engage in missions. Whether it is your life or the life of your church, engaging the community means constantly challenging personal preferences, the fear of losing control of who to serve, and the anxiety of not having enough resources. 

Although the work is challenging, engaging in mission means you can relax in the experience of loving others as you have been loved. Engaging the community is an experience of transformation and new life.

Focus on the Mission of God’s Love

So, what better time to explore engaging the community than the season of Pentecost? When I reflect upon the presence and power of God in and through the Holy Spirit, I discover that the early church was focused on the mission of God’s love and that the power of the Holy Spirit helped those early followers to overcome the barriers of race, gender, theology, faith, and persecution.

When engaging the community, you are given the power to overcome the barriers that keep people from experiencing God’s love by resisting evil in whatever form it presents itself.

So, the question is, “What do you need to do to engage the community with God’s love? 

Start with Prayer

Prayer facilitates your engaging the community. Since you are engaging in God’s business, it makes sense to seek God’s direction. So, as you begin to engage the community, provide opportunities for everyone in the congregation as well as your leaders to pray. 

Make prayer part of every Sunday School class, small group, administrative meetings (Administrative Council, Leader Board, Finance, Trustees, Pastor Parish Relations, etc.) rehearsals, trainings, or other gatherings of your church community.  

Remind your leaders, in whatever context they are leading, that when there is no prayer, there is no power. When there is a little prayer there is little power. When there is much prayer there is much power. Said another way: No prayer, no power. Little prayer, little power. Much prayer, much power. 

Ask God for new possibilities to break through in your church and community. Ask God to give you the eyes to see and hearts and minds to receive and understand what God is doing in the community.

  • Ask God to help you discover what you need to do that no one else is doing in the community. Ask God to send you the people no one else wants and for the grace to receive the people God sends to you.
  • As you surrender yourself to God’s direction, be mindful of how God can use you and your church to make a difference in your community.    

Prayer

To get you started, here is a sample prayer:   

O God, by your grace give each of us obedience to yield a little more of ourselves today.  Put us where you want us and help us be content.  If we can’t be content, make us faithful.  Let us be a part of what you are blessing and let us learn everything we need to learn in every situation and circumstance.  Teach us and equip us to bring here on earth what you have in heaven.  Break our hearts for the church and the church’s heart for the community. Send to us the people no one else wants and by your grace help us receive the people you send to us.  Let us see you in the tasks you have given us to perform and may you find us faithfully performing those tasks.  Fill us with your grace and glory so all with whom we come in contact will experience your grace and glory in us. 

Remember, prayer facilitates engaging the community. No prayer, no power. Little prayer, little power. Much prayer, much prayer. It was while the disciples were praying that the Holy Spirit came upon them. They received power to be witnesses (the Greek work means “martyrs) starting where they were and moving into their communities, surrounding areas, and to the world 

Engage in the Seven Missional Questions 

Read the blog ENGAGING IN MISSION: Seven Missional Questions. 

ENGAGING IN MISSION: Seven Missional Questions gives you the details of each question. The questions are:

  1. Where have you witnessed God’s presence in your community? (God’s Presence)
  2. What is the mission of the church (Mission)
  3. What is our mission field? (Mission Field)
  4. What are the assets of our community? (Assets)
  5. What are the needs of our community (Needs)
  6. What relationships exists with leaders in our community? (Relationships)
  7. What is one way we can collaborate with other churches? (Collaborations)

To engage the community, prepare your heart and mind with prayer. Ask God to help you to be aware of and sensitive to the people you encounter in your mission field. 

Prepare your heart and mind with bible study. Read Luke 10:1-12 and ask God to send you out as missionaries to learn about the mission field in which you live and serve.  

Engage the leaders of your church in participating in the seven questions above. Send your leaders out in teams of two or three to experience the mission, to encounter the people, to assess the assets and needs of the mission field. 

Assist your leaders in identifying and developing the relationships within your mission field. What relationships need to be nurtured, reconciled, or re-established? 

Continue to engage your team in prayer and study. Continue to ask God to help you be aware of and sensitive to the people you encounter. 

Read, Reflect, Respond, Return

When you are engaging the community, you are loving and serving people in all you do. Keep in mind that you are about God’s business as a follower of Jesus whether you are feeding people, providing housing, caring for children, sharing in a work team, or on a mission trip. To assist you in keeping focused, use the following pattern as a way of focusing upon God’s business and growing as a follower of Jesus. 

Before leaving for the site on which you are serving, gather your team together. The team must gather together before arriving at the site. In other words, the focus is on becoming who God created you to be, a follower of Jesus, and not upon the work you are involved in or the service you are providing. Both are important but becoming a disciple of Jesus and being about God’s business of loving others is the main focus. 

As important as this is, before leaving for the site, take no more than 15 minutes to do the following: 

Read

Pick a scripture for the day. Before reading it, ask each member of the team to focus upon a part of the scripture, then read it aloud for the team to hear. 

Reflect

Have each person briefly tell which part of the scripture they will carry with them throughout the experience. Keeping the scripture in mind, ask each member of the team to be aware of the people they meet and to look for Jesus in the midst of their serving, working, and interactions. 

Pray

Remember, prayer facilitates your engaging the community. So, before you leave for the site, pray. It can be short and simple. Here are three examples: 

“O God, make us aware of the people around us today so that we may be a blessing to someone, somewhere today. Use us as instruments of your love and peace.” 

“O God, give us the eyes to see, ears to ear, hearts to receive, and minds to understand your presence in our experience today. Give us pure hearts, because blessed are the pure in heart, they will see You.” 

“O God, make me aware of the people around me today. By your grace, help me be an extension of your love in the lives of the people you send my way. Help me yield a little more of myself so that I may love others as you have loved me. Help me be faithful to your call upon my life so that I may be a blessing to someone, somewhere, today. Amen” 

Respond

Remind each person to be aware of how they will be living the scripture in the places they encounter. Sounds simple enough, but keep the following in mind:

  • How will you love the people God sends your way? 
  • How will you reach and receive them in love?
  • How will you introduce them to God’s love?
  • How will you practice who you are as a follower of Jesus? 
  • In what new way will you love them as Christ has loved you? 

Return

At the end of the experience, gather the team together. Give God thanks for the experience and for the people with whom you interacted. Then, in small groups of 3 or 4 persons, ask them to discuss the following questions:

  • How did you live the scripture today?
  • How did you experience God’s love? In whom did you see Jesus?
  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • Were there times you felt uncomfortable, afraid, or alone? How did you respond?  
  • For whom are you grateful at this moment? Give God thanks for them. 

Engage The Community

There are many ways to engage the community. Each context will call for specific ways of loving and serving. As you move forward, use the tools of prayer, 7 Missional Questions, and the pattern of “Read, Reflect, Respond, and Return to keep you focused on the mission. 

You have been commissioned to love others as you love Jesus. As you engage in mission you will be transformed, so be aware of what helps turn your love for Jesus into an outward expression of love and care. 

It is time to engage the community. You have been given the power to love as you have been loved, to overcome the barriers that keep people from experiencing God’s love, and to resist evil in whatever form it presents itself.

Listen for your call into the neighborhood. It will come with the words of Jesus, “Just as the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Go and live into the life God has created you to live.

As you engage in the mission of practicing your faith, you will find it to be the simplest yet the most difficult aspect of HOPE. (Read Preparing for Mission: Practicing Your Faith Part One and Preparing for Mission: Practicing Your Faith Part Two). 

It is simple because it is the one aspect of HOPE that you participate in the most. Whether it be Sunday School classes, small groups, worship, administrative meetings, rehearsals, training, the list goes on. You have the opportunity to rehearse or practice your faith through activities and programs. 

It is difficult because to practice your faith is more than anything goes.  To engage in the mission of practicing your faith means you are about God’s business, focused upon the mission, living out who God has created you to be. You are applying what you are rehearsing in your everyday living. 

Building H.O.P.E.

As you build systems of hospitality in which you reach out at receive people, of offering Christ in which you introduce people to the Christian faith, and practicing your faith in which you nurture people in their faith, you have the opportunity to assist them in learning about Jesus, what it means to be a follower of Jesus, and how to live out their faith in everyday situations and circumstances.    

So, you engage the mission of practicing faith as you invite people into the movement of God’s grace and equip them for the mission of God’s love, you provide opportunities for them to practice by learning and growing in their faith. As simple as it sounds, the difficulty is in keeping focused on God’s business of loving others as you have been loved. 

The Means of Grace

John Wesley knew it was difficult. That is why he developed what he called “the means of grace.” It is in and through the practice of daily prayer, reading, studying, and reflecting on the scriptures, regularly attending worship, celebrating Holy Communion, conversations about faith, regular fasting for reflection, and doing acts of mercy which include humanitarian acts of compassion or social justice acts of advocacy. People experience God’s love and learn to share God’s love through practicing the “means of grace.” 

We usually talk of the “means of grace” as personal practices of individuals. Wesley instituted class meetings and bands as ways of assisting individuals in their personal faith development. Individual practice of the means of grace is good and essential to personal faith development. 

But corporate participation in the “means of grace” leads to another level of practicing faith.  

Learn about God’s Business

Below are three ways of practicing the means of grace that will not add activities to your over-scheduled calendar. You already have the structure in place. 

Below are three ways to participate in the means of grace whether you are engaging in a Sunday School class, small group, administrative meetings (Administrative Council, Leaderboard, Finance, Trustees, Pastor Parish Relations, etc.) rehearsals, training, or other gatherings of your church community.   

Make every gathering, meeting, rehearsal, class, training, an opportunity to learn about God’s business. 

Ways to Practice the Means of Grace

At the beginning of every meeting, ask people to gather in groups of two or three.  Explain to them that our job is to be about God’s business and one way to be about God’s business is to read and reflect upon the Scripture. This exercise should not take more than 10 minutes. 

First, Read and Reflect on the Scripture. 

Be creative. You might use the scripture text you will be using on Sunday morning, you might provide a guided study of a book of the Bible, you might have a mission focus, or you might center on special events in the life of the church. (If you use a scripture like Isaiah 43:18 ff, you can use the text for several meetings). The point is to take advantage of every gathering. Every time you gather, read and reflect upon the Scripture. 

Second, Give a brief exegesis or explanation of the Scripture. 

Again, be creative. Don’t leave the context, specific intention, or form of the scripture to a “anything goes” interpretation. You are providing an opportunity for reflection and conversation by giving the context and the intention of what has been read. Take advantage of the opportunity to “do” a little Bible study. Every time you gather, read, reflect upon, and respond to the Scripture. 

Third, Provide a few minutes for conversation.

By providing a few minutes for conversation, you open space to talk about what has been read and expounded upon by asking several guided questions. For example: if the scripture is Isaiah 43:18-19, 

“Do not remember the former things or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth; do you not perceive it?” 

It might help to give some directions at this point. The questions are not designed as “like” or “dislike” questions. They are questions to stimulate thought, reflection, and conversation. The questions you might ask are: What new things are happening in your life? What new things are you participating in with your family, at work, on the golf course? (You get the point) What new things are happening in our church? How are you participating in the new things that are happening? 

Fourth, have each little group pray for the others in their group. 

At first, you might have one person pray for their group. As you continue with this process of “practicing faith,” you might ask each person to offer a prayer for each person in the group.

As you can see, this exercise provides the opportunity to practice the “means of grace” as well as assist leaders develop healthy relationships.  As simple as it sounds, it will not be easy. But it is one way to make disciples of Jesus for the transformation of the church and community. 

Practicing the Means of Grace – Example 2

Another way to make every gathering, meeting, rehearsal, class, training, an opportunity to learn about God’s business is similar to the exercise above. 

Again, at the beginning of every meeting, ask people to gather in groups of two or three.  Explain to them that our job is to be about God’s business and one way to be about God’s business is to recognize God’s love and God’s presence in everyday and ordinary experiences. This exercise should not take more than 10 minutes. 

Over a period of time, weeks if your group meets weekly or months if your group meets monthly, ask a series of questions. In the beginning, limit the discussion to “one question” per meeting. Below are examples of questions that will help people be more focused on God’s business. 

  • Where did you see or experience Jesus this past week? 
  • Who has God unexpectedly put into your life who has helped you learn about yourself? 
  • Where or with whom have you experienced God’s love? 
  • With whom have you shared God’s love? 

Be creative with your questions. The point is to assist people in recognizing God’s love and presence in everyday situations and circumstances. Providing an opportunity to practice will help them become more aware of what God is doing in their midst. It also helps shape them into followers of Jesus who make a difference in their everyday living. 

Celebrating Holy Communion is Practicing the Means of Grace

As you assist people in practicing the “means of grace,” what would happen, if once a quarter or twice a year, you celebrated Holy Communion with every gathering, meeting, rehearsal, class, or training? As a means of grace, Holy Communion keeps you focused on God’s business. In fact, Jesus’ words “do this in remembrance of me” provides the invitation to keep your focus on God’s movement of grace and mission of love, whether the meeting is Administrative or spiritual in nature. 

Providing opportunities for people to engage in the mission of practicing their faith is part of your work as a Christ-centered leader. You are assisting them to develop their inner faith so they can and will practice their faith beyond themselves. As they practice their faith together, they will practice their faith outside each gathering. As you help them identify Jesus in their midst, they will discover new ways to love others as God in Jesus has loved them. Your church and community will begin to change as the focus on God’s love becomes a way of living for the people entrusted to your care. 

It’s Your Turn to Practice the Means of Grace

How will you participate in the “means of grace” today? With whom will you practice your faith? In what new way will you love others the way God in Christ has loved you? 

Practicing your faith helps to turn your inner faith into an outward expression of love and care. How will you practice your faith today? 

Take a moment to pray: O God, make me aware of the people around me today. By your grace, help me be an extension of your love in the lives of the people you send my way. Help me yield a little more of myself so that I may love others as you have loved me in Jesus. Help me be faithful to your call upon my life so that I may be a blessing to someone, somewhere, today. Amen

 

As you reflect back upon your day, give thanks for God’s call to follow Jesus. In what ways did you practice your faith? How did you participate in the “means of grace.” With whom did you share God’s love? Where and in whom did you experience Jesus today? With whom do you need to celebrate the love you experienced today? What will you do differently tomorrow?

Keep in mind, as you engage others in the mission of practicing faith, you are becoming the Christ-centered leader God has created you to be.  Who you are is how you lead.

This is part 3 of a 3 part series.

Read Part 1  Read Part 2

As a Christ-centered leader, you have the opportunity to equip and assist persons in the mission of offering Christ. You have the responsibility to remind them that they are God’s children, and as God’s children, they are about doing God’s business. They are living God’s love by loving others as they have been loved. So, to engage in the mission of offering Christ is to be about God’s business in your living and loving each day. (Read Preparing for Mission: Being About God’s Business).

How to Engage People in Offering Christ?

The question for most of us comes down to how. How do you engage people in God’s business of love? How do you engage people in offering Christ?

At this point, it is easy to jump into techniques and practices of faith sharing. I believe there are practical ways of living your faith that naturally lead to sharing your faith and offering Christ. But I also believe many of those practical ways fall short without a clear understanding of who you are as a follower of Jesus.

Who are You As a Follower of Jesus?

As a Christ-centered leader, you have the opportunity and responsibility to remind those who are entrusted to your care that:

They are beloved children of God. 

They are claimed by God and commissioned to be about God’s business. With that in mind and heart, offering Christ is not a personal choice of whether you are good at it or not. It is how you live your life in relationship with the people you encounter each day. When you are claimed as a beloved child of God, you are also equipped with a love that will not let you go and a love that is meant to be lived out and shared in every situation and circumstance in which you find yourself. Offering Christ is about loving others as you have been loved.

God’s claim upon their lives is bigger than themselves…

God’s claim on their lives is also bigger than their church and their denomination. They have been claimed, commissioned, and equipped to be the human touch of God’s love in the places they live, work, and play. Every time you say the words “remember your baptism and be thankful” you are reminding them that they have been claimed and commissioned to be God’s love with family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, strangers, and even enemies. Offering Christ is about loving others as you have been loved.

Jesus is the way of love. 

Offering Christ is about Jesus. It is not about getting people into the church, or getting people to worship, or getting people to believe what you believe, or about gender, sexuality, politics, economics, race, nationality, (add what I left out), etc. When you are a follower of Jesus, you love others as God in Jesus has loved you. Offering Christ is about Jesus.

All people are included in God’s love. 

Offering Christ is about loving people. I know that sounds redundant, but your responsibility is to lead people into God’s business. People thrive and find fulfillment in companionship, support, and relationships. Relationships play a significant role in the overall well-being, happiness, and fulfillment in everyday living. Offering Christ, as difficult and inconvenient as it can be at times, is loving others as God has loved you. It is who you are as a follower of Jesus. (Read: Reflections on 50 years of Ministry: The Importance of People).

When you engage in the mission of offering Christ, people respond in different ways. Below are seven responses to God’s love. It is certainly not an exhaustive list, but is an offering of several “biblical models of offering Christ.” 

Saul Encounters Christ Acts 9:1-19

A dramatic experience of someone coming to Jesus is found in Acts 9:1-19. It is the story of Saul of Tarsus and his experience of the Risen Christ. Saul was so firm in his faith convictions as a Pharisee, that he participated in persecuting Stephen and other early followers of Jesus.

The offer of Christ came as he experienced the faith and forgiveness of those he was persecuting. His transforming experience came, not in dialogue with Christians, but in his interaction with them. Even in the midst of his misguided theological views, he received a clear offer of God’s love through the Christians around him. 

Cleopas on the Road to Emmaus Luke 24:13-32

Another experience of the Risen Christ is found in Luke 24:13-32. It is the story of Cleopas and his companion walking on the road to Emmaus. As they are walking, they are talking about the events of the crucifixion and the resurrection related to Jesus.  In the midst of their conversation, a stranger joins them. As the stranger is invited into the conversation, he begins to teach them.

Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interprets to them “the things about (Jesus)” in all the scriptures.  Cleopas invites the stranger into his home. It is in the midst of this act of hospitality, while breaking bread together, that Cleopas and his companion recognize the stranger as Jesus. The offer of Christ came in their offer of hospitality. In the midst of welcoming a stranger, they received a clear offer of God’s presence. In whom have you experienced Jesus lately? Where have you seen Jesus? 

Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy – 2 Timothy 1

Another experience of an offer of Christ comes in Paul’s second letter to Timothy (II Timothy 1:3-5). In his letter, he remembers Timothy’s sincere faith, a faith that lived first in his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. From Paul’s perspective, it was a faith learned at home. The offer of Christ came through the faithful living and loving of family. 

The Gospel of John & Offering Christ

In John’s story of good news, there are several experiences of offering Christ. In John 1:40-42, Andrew, after spending the day with Jesus, finds his brother Simon and says, “We have found the Messiah.” (which translated Anointed). He brings Simon to Jesus, who looks at him and says, “You are Simon son of John.  You are to be called ‘Cephas’ (which is translated Peter).” The offer of Christ comes through the excitement of a brother. 

In John 1:43-46, Philip, after being invited by Jesus to follow, Philip finds his friend, Nathanael, and invites him to follow Jesus as well.  Even faced with Nathanael’s skepticism, Philip offers the invitation, “come and see.” Come and see is a common theme of offering Christ in John’s good news about Jesus. (For more, read Engaging the Mission: Offering Christ Part One and Engaging the Mission: Offering Christ Part two

Simon Peter Encounters Jesus

There are several stories of Simon Peter experiencing the love of God in and through Jesus. Most of his stories focus on his struggles with faith. After he drops his fishing net to follow Jesus (Matthew  4:18-20), his faith journey is anything but a smooth one. He argues with the other disciples over which of them is to be regarded as the greatest (Luke 22:24).  

He challenges Jesus to allow him to walk on the water and cries out to be saved when he becomes frightened (Matthew 14:25-33).  He is affirmed by Jesus when he confesses his faith by saying “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:13-20).  Then, the very night he tells Jesus, “I will never desert you,” he denies Jesus three times (Matthew 26:31-35, 69-75).  Yet his faith matures through his struggles.  

Because of his faithful response and his proclaiming Christ, “More than ever believers were added to the Lord…so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mats, in order that Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he came by” (Acts 5:12-15).  Simon Peter offered Christ through his own experiences of failure and maturity. His faith was anchored in his strong commitment, but his faith grew because of the grace he experienced in both good and not so good ways.

Experience Jesus for Yourself

And maybe one of the most dramatic experiences of offering Christ comes in John 4:39-42. It is a story of a woman who encounters Jesus and begins to tell everyone in the community about him. John writes that many of the people from the community believed in Jesus because of her testimony.  

They say to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that he is truly the Savior of the world.” The offer of Christ is to experience Jesus for themselves. Again, the offer came through the invitation to “come and see.” 

Love People As You Have Been Loved

So, as you engage in the mission of offering Christ, practice loving the people around you as you have been loved. 

Think of two or three people with whom you will interact over the next week. The people might be friends, family, neighbors, or colleagues. Write their names in your phone, or a piece of paper you will carry with you or make a mental note not to forget them. 

A Commitment of Prayer

Commit yourself to pray for each person, especially when they come to mind. Give God thanks for their lives and for what they mean to you. Pray for their well-being and health. Offer them to God’s love and care.  Your prayer might be like this: 

O God, I give you thanks for _______ and her ministry. I pray that she might have a good day as she experiences your love in and through the people she meets. I also pray that she might be an instrument of your love to those people as well. Keep her safe as I offer her to your love in Jesus’ name. 

As you go through each day, continue to offer yourself as an instrument of love and peace in the situations and circumstances in which you find yourself. Make yourself available to be a conduit of God’s love for the people you meet. 

Always be ready to offer a kind, caring, encouraging word. In each encounter, you are offering Christ just by being who God created you to be. 

Prayer

Here is a prayer for today:  

Lord, send me the people no one else wants and help me receive the people you are sending to me. By your grace, help me offer them Christ by the way I live out your love. Make me a blessing to someone, somewhere, today.  

Reflect on Offering Christ 

At the end of the day, reflect on the following regarding Offering Christ: As you reflect back upon your day, give God thanks for God’s call to follow Jesus. Who did you meet who needed a kind, caring, encouraging word? In what ways did you offer Christ to the people you met? What did you learn about yourself? Give God thanks for the opportunities you had to offer Christ. To whom do you need to respond with words of hope, words of encouragement, or words of forgiveness? What will you do differently tomorrow?