Sermon Series: Hometown Missionary
Message 1 of 5: Come and See, Hanging Out and Making Invitations
Scriptures: John 1:35-42
This message was offered Sunday, 7/8/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.
When you think of a missionary, what comes to mind?
- Special people who are identified and sent by a congregation
- They have a calling from God and are trained to fulfill it
- Mature, devoted followers of Jesus Christ
- Often leave home to go to a far off, developing country
- Might learn a new language
- Might bring a skill like medical training, construction experience, knowledge of water purification techniques, teaching
- Special people who choose a life of sacrifice, poverty, and danger
- Praise the Lord that 2 of the 3 UMC missionaries in the Philippines have been released. Continue to pray for the release of Miracle.
Missionaries fulfill the great commission literally- They Go!
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. Lo, I am with you always to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:19-20
Our job in fulfilling the great commission is to recognize and affirm their call, to support them in their training and mission work with our prayers, our money, and by sending supplies. Occasionally we might go on a short-term mission trip, but they stay “in country.”
This model no longer works. The world has changed. America has changed. America is now a missionary territory.
In the story of my family, there are 5 generations without faith in Jesus Christ. That’s 100 years.
We now live in Post Christendom America. Christianity no longer has preferential treatment in our society. It’s sometimes subtle and sometimes it’s downright hostile.
- 24/7 work week + increased workloads, the need for 2 income families, job plus a side hustle, jobs in retirement
- So many options for how to spend our time and money
- So much pressure to raise “well rounded” kids who are committed to sports plus arts plus making great grades
Many of us came to faith when all you had to do was build a church and people would come. It was part of the culture.
How many of us trained to be missionaries? Very few! Therefore there is no shame in not knowing how to do this. We’ll spend the next few weeks reclaiming the missionary heart, prayers, and practices of our spiritual ancestors.
Take a breath. It’s ok if this is new for you, even uncomfortable. It is for me as well. I’ll be learning and trying out new things right alongside you. God’s power will be made perfect in our weakness.
So where do we start? We start simple just like they did in Bible times. We hang out with people. We build a relationship, build trust. Be a great friend. Care about folks with no agenda. God will open the door for deeper discussions.
Read John 1:35-42
Understand Who You’re Hanging out with/Inviting
This pie chart helps us understand the US population’s relationship with Christ and his church. Different groups are best reached in different ways
Group 1 = Green and Gold Areas of the Chart
These persons have firsthand experience with words and ways of Jesus. (Scripture, Prayer, Holy Communion, Serving Others). They know church language, are comfortable in a sanctuary and in worship, and are comfortable around other Christians.
- Dark Green (10%) name themselves Christians, have a church home, and are active participants one or more times per month.
- Light Green (10%) name themselves Christians, have a church home, and are active participants less than once per month but more than just Christmas and Easter.
- Gold (20%) name themselves Christians, have had a church home in the past but not currently, and are open to reconnecting to active participation with a congregation.
Group 1 Invitations = Come and See
- Easy to hang out with persons in this group because we have so much in common
- Because of their experiences, you can invite these persons directly to church activities and worship
Group 2 = Orange area of the chart (20%)
These persons also have firsthand experience with words and ways of Jesus but are now uncomfortable at a church and around other Christians. They may have been hurt by a church experience. They may be angry at the church or at God. They may be ashamed of something or just adopted new priorities. They are closed to reconnecting with a congregation and maybe even faith itself.
Group 2 Invitations = We’re different
- This takes much more prayer and relationship building.
- Help persons discover our congregation is different from the hurtful one they previously experienced.
- Different might mean relationships, theology, style, values, motivation, and/or goals.
- Build trust, pray, and invite them to meet other Christians or try inviting them to events which will meet felt needs
Group 3 = Blue Area of the Chart (40%)
This represents persons who have little to no experience with the words and ways of Jesus. If the orange group is done, the blue group is none. All they know about Christianity is from TV, movies, and novels. (how often is that accurate?) They may have never stepped foot into a sanctuary. Coming to worship might feel like walking on Mars. They may not have had a Christian in their family or friends for generations, have never had a Christian in their family/friends, or even know a Christian.
For me, the longer I am a Christian, the fewer people I know in this group. I need help in this area.
Group 3 invitations = Go!
- Reaching persons in this group is similar to foreign mission work.
- It’s about cross-cultural relationship building on their turf rather than the church campus.
- Invite them to out for coffee or for a meal, activity together
Your mission should you choose to accept it: Make space to hang out with people. Be a real friend. Really care. No agenda. Listen deeply. Be consistent. Treat people as people, not as a project.
I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.
sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.