21 Easy Ways to Introduce Your Friends to the Nations (and Five Ways to Ensure They Stay Away)
We all feel it, don't we? You experience something beautiful, cool, or amazing, and you've just got to share it with someone. Maybe it's a book, place, thought, or discovery. Whatever, you want those closest to you to know! You want your friends and family to share the joy and wonder you feel.
When the "cool thing" is God's love for the nations, particularly his concern for people currently without access to the good news, your concern is not just that they share the wonder, but that they join in to solve the problem.
So "practical mobilization" really just means "come share this passion and lean your shoulder into this work with me."
21 Easy Ways to Introduce Your Friends to the Nations
- Buy them a book. Ridiculously old fashioned? You bet. But also still effective. I am who I am today in part due to In The Gap: What It Means to Be A World Christian, by David Bryant. If you have a book club, suggest a volume that will introduce club members to a part of the world they might not otherwise discover.
- Do your friends lean more toward film than print? Why not make an armchair journey to Africa or Asia?
- Express your need for their help in hosting a course or event. Nothing invites someone in like the words, "You have a skill I lack. Can you help me with this?"
- Take them on an entry-level mission trip. Visit and serve an unreached people group in your city or nearby. Aim for at least half a day, but not more than two days.
- Invite them to join a short-term prayer group, e.g., 15 minutes before church for four weeks. Even lower commitment: Ask your small group if you can lead a global prayer once a month.
- Make your next small group meeting a bring and share meal, and encourage participants to bring something from a different part of the world. Use a copy of Operation World and pray for the nations represented by the food.
- Take your friend out for Indian food. Or Ethiopian. Nervousness about the unfamiliar will keep many people from enjoying these fascinating cuisines and the complex and beautiful cultures behind them. Your experience and encouragement might open new doors.
- Take them along to a visiting foreign lecturer at your local college or university. Or leave the car in the garage and watch a TED talk (see www.ted.com) by a brilliant innovator from another culture. This one might be an interesting start.
- Ask them to get on the mailing list of an expat worker or foreign ministry you respect. This one would be a good start.
- Invite them to contribute to work focused on an unreached people. Jesus was right about the proximity of our hearts to our treasure.
- Invite them to attend one night of a Perspectives or Kairos course. Try to be sure the speaker is one who will make them want to take the whole course!
- Introduce them to music meant to mobilize, like that of Perry Lahaie.
- Go meet international students together. Find where they hang out and go meet some. If that's too open-ended, go with the goal of learning a little Arabic or another language of your choice. Few native speakers will shoo away someone trying to pick up their language.
- Invite your friends to participate in a nearby university's international student hospitality programme.
- Host a sharp, young, cross-cultural worker at your house to share with your friends about his/her work. Bill it as (and make sure it remains) a non-fundraising event.
- Take a friend with you to volunteer at a local refugee assistance programme.
- Visit a mosque or temple together. (This isn't cheating on Jesus!)
- Take the kids or your church group on a cultural scavenger hunt - maybe in your closest multi-cultural community.
- Don't be annoying about it, but talk about how Jesus connected with people beyond the main flow of his culture, often times the very ones the religious people wanted to avoid!
- If you're in ministry, invite your friend to pray for and support you.
- Ask your friend questions so you can find common ground, hear their passions, and listen to their concerns. This may happen best over coffee (or tea) and time.
Bonus: Five Ways to Ensure They Stay Away
Want your friends to stay away from your missions stuff? These habits should do the trick handily:
- Constantly bash your home culture for not caring, not being as good/pure/cool as the foreign culture you're invested in.
- Constantly bash your church (directing particularly nasty invective at your pastor) for not caring about the "real heart of God."
- Act as if God only loves people who aren't like them. Or maybe just likes them better.
- Trumpet your cross-cultural accomplishments, while only slightly masking your disdain for "local" missions.
- Don't care for your friends. Care only for the cause.