Adults

Layering Missions Education

You may think missions education is only for children, but my introduction came as an adult. Robin Janney, our church WMU Director, saw herself as someone who opened doors for everyone to learn about and engage in missions.

Relationships

Friends, family, and other relationships bring memories, fun, blessing, confusion, and challenges. And sometimes they are just plain hard . . . but needed.

Relationship is God’s chosen way to relate to us, and His design for how we relate to one another. Sometimes, especially as leaders, we are tempted to think that we don’t need deeper relationships. Sometimes we find ourselves out in front, with others following at a distance. But is this the best or only way? And how can we share with others? How can we be open for new relationships?

I love the fact that Jesus lived with His disciples. His call to leadership development was to “come” (Matt. 4:19). He invited others to walk with Him. He even let little children come to Him (Mark 10:13–16).

Paul shared his life with those he ministered to (1 Thess. 2:8). Some of Paul’s friends and co-laborers in ministry were people he had worked with as a tentmaker (Acts 18:3).

Someone You Raise

“Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.”—Andy Stanley

When we think about missions, we often define it as traveling to a foreign country to tell people about Jesus. We equate “missions” with “going” and the idea of being sent to another place.

As moms, we can be tempted to look with envy at the young or single woman who serves on the missions field in a foreign country, thinking her work for the kingdom of God is more noteworthy or impactful than our service in the home. We glamorize the missionary’s life as more important to the spread of the gospel than our daily work in the doldrums of diapers and dirty laundry.

Making Friends

Holding a baby that could easily be a Gerber model, Jill and I struck up a conversation next to our apartment pool. Obviously, the blue-eyed doll she held was the conversation starter, but we talked for a while after about her life and family.

As we talked, Jill told me, “You know, I have never really met any of my neighbors here before,” referring to the apartment community she has lived in for the last 3 years.

My heart soared when she said this, because this is exactly what my husband and I have prayed for in the apartment God has placed us in. That community will flourish and we will have opportunities to share Jesus.

With her confession, I responded, “Well now you know at least one person. We should go for walks sometime.”

There is something about being pursued in friendship as an adult. It’s as if once we all moved past school where we were in a place with a lot of people going the same direction as us, we lost track of how to bridge the divide and make friends with strangers.

Lifestyle of Learning

Have you ever had to reteach yourself how to ride a bike? Probably not. Once you have learned how to ride a bike, you likely have learned it for life.

On the other hand, some things in life require continuing education. For example, my New Year’s resolution was to listen to something in Spanish every day. I have taken Spanish in school for several years, and over time I have greatly improved!

Even though I enjoy learning the language and continue to practice, I know that I will always have room to learn more. I will never say, “I’m done! I understand all the Spanish in the world and don’t need to study anymore.”

Learning about missions is more like my lifelong attempt to learn another language. The learning shouldn’t stop. Our world is constantly changing, and studying missions helps us understand how we can best minister to unbelievers.

“And” Discipleship

“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me’” (Mark 8:34 NIV).

For the last two years, WMU has focused on Mark 8:34 and the theme All For You: Surrender, Sacrifice, Service. This theme has been a call to all believers to obey Jesus’ radical call to obedience and discipleship.

In Mark 8:34, there are three distinct actions which are reflected in the WMU emphasis. This theme has challenged me to learn that it is not enough to take only one or two of these actions.

In this stage of life, it’s easy to want to do more in the community. Too often I say “yes” to a service opportunity before I truly surrender my will to the Lord.

Sometimes I deny myself halfway, but refuse to take up my cross.

Other times I am tempted to go to the other extreme, surrendering my will, sacrificing my plans, but failing to offer my hands in service.

Love, Laughter, and Lemonade

Invite your friends and their friends to join you for an evening full of laughter and fun. Summer is a perfect time to enjoy our friendships with other women and to build new relationships.

Who? This event is for all women! Focus on inviting nonbelievers and/or unchurched to this casual, nonthreatening get-together.

What? An evening brimming with humorous skits, stand-up comedy, riotous punch lines, and smiles all around.

When? Promote the event through social media as well as other means.

Why? Laughter is beneficial to our health. It can improve our attitudes and relieve stress. Summer offers opportunities for casual interaction and an event filled with humor may attract your unchurched friends.

Prepare Preschoolers for a Postmodern Culture

Our preschool group looked at a photo of the missionary family we studied that month in Mission Friends. We had been learning about this missionary family for a few weeks. I had just finished telling our mission story for the week of how the missionaries tell others about Jesus. One of the 3-year-olds leaned in to look at the picture and asked, “Are they real?” At first, it struck me as an odd question. Of course, they are real. As I thought about it, I realized that this question is indicative of the current times in which photos are altered and what seems to be real may not be the truth.

Searching for reality and truth is part of the postmodern world of which our preschoolers are a part. Preschoolers are growing up with a postmodern worldview that people can determine their own truth. Growing up as postmodernists, preschoolers will also have a much more global worldview than previous generations.

Meeting Physical Needs

Remember how the men and women who followed Jesus attended to his physical needs—whether it was a place to stay or food to eat or giving Him time to rest. These followers were all in for following Christ and living for Him. Perhaps, they were the first Adults on Mission™.

Those followers had personal relationships with Jesus, just like we have personal relationships with those whom we disciple. There are people in need in every city or town. They may be lonely, hungry, or homeless, or all three. By developing a personal relationship (yes, it can be messy as one Christian Women’s Job Corps™ director has said), you can let them see Jesus in you.

How are you all in at following Christ? Jesus told His believers that, "'Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Matt. 25:40 NIV). Men and women today can be all in for Christ by following His example and serving the least of these and meeting their physical needs today.

Love a Friend to Christ

Chaney was fresh out of college, living in a city hundreds of miles from home with no friends. That is with no friends yet.

On her first day at her new job, she met Melinda and a friendship was born. What Chaney didn’t know is that friendship is Melinda’s way of doing missions.

An invitation to lunch led to a Saturday night movie, and then, “Would you like to go to church with me tomorrow morning?” Melinda asked. How could Chaney say no? A few months later, Chaney accepted Christ and joined a new believers’ class.

Melinda practices friendship missions as a natural way of sharing her faith and seeing the harvest of simply offering friendship.

Here are a few questions or concerns you might have about friendship missions:

Is it kind of sneaky to make a friend with the idea of bringing him or her to Jesus?

No. After all, the best thing you can do for any friend is to introduce him or her to Jesus, so what is underhanded about that?

I’m not a very outgoing person, so I wouldn’t be good at this.

Just be a friend and invite someone to church. Then be prepared to discuss what happened.

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