In the previous Part One post on this topic I referenced Jesus great commission to his followers to “Go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19,20). I also bemoaned the fact that, despite large numbers of church members hearing those words of Jesus multiple times in sermons or Bible studies often for decades, the ‘workers’, those who will leave their comfortable church base and go onto the ‘Frontline’ of God’s mission, i.e. become ‘Frontliners’, are still few.
However, if the now chronic trend of missional failure of churches in Western society is to be reversed it cannot be denied that there needs to be an explosion of ‘Frontliners’. These are those who will intentionally penetrate the mosaic of parallel cultural universes that constitute today’s society with the message of the gospel.
So I firstly want to encourage and applaud those who are already ‘Frontliners’. Those at the frontline of mission, who start new groups (Missional Communities) with the deliberate intention of engaging with those without Christ on a regular basis, the unchurched and the de-churched, who will never come into our Sunday services.
Secondly, I want to encourage anyone reading this to become a ‘Frontliner’ if you are not one already! However, I know from experience that the common reaction to such a suggestion is often a horrified ‘Oh no! I couldn’t possibly do that. That’s not my thing!” If that is you, be encouraged and read on bit because it can be easier than you think.
The urgent need for ‘Frontliners’ is emphasised by the fact that the missional fruit resulting from the missional communities they create in the harvest field of the lost, as measured by ‘Newcomer’ percentage (well over 50% and even higher), is vastly higher than anything achieved by standard congregations which statistics show has been falling for 20 years and now averages well under 10%. (Newcomers are those who were not previously attending any Christian community/church).
So in order to address the dire need for more ‘Frontliners’ I want to outline what is probably the easiest and simplest way for someone to become one, even those who find the whole thing scary, as I myself did initially. Here it is-
What Do I Do?
1) Pray, that God will give you the boldness to become an agent of the gospel. Even the Apostle Paul asked his friends to pray for boldness for him.
2) Go with one or two Christian friends to your favourite coffee bar, tea shop, club, pub, wine bar etc. (Sit at a table that is not hidden away)
3) Spend some time in normal catching up with your friends on what has been happening in the week etc.
4) After about 20 minutes or so discuss a bible verse or passage for perhaps another 20 minutes. It needs to be kept simple, even very simple, if we want people who have zero bible knowledge to join. It is important to have at least one hard copy bible out on the table that is easy to be observed. Others in the group can use electronic devices if they wish.
5) Then assemble a list of prayer points, including for the group you are seeking to establish, the people around and the staff.
6) Pray for your list. Heads up, eyes open prayer, not eyes shut heads down which would confirm the ‘religious’ stereotypical view many have of ‘church’ people.
7) Finish the time with some more chat and maybe another coffee.
During all of this take any opportunities that arise to interact with staff or other customers.
Do this every week for several months, at the same day, place and time. This will enable real ‘Connections’ to be made with those who are present rather than one-off evangelistic ‘Brief Encounters’. Note, ‘Connecting’ with non-church people is something most Christians do not do.
What Will Happen?
This is unpredictable as it depends on the context and who are the people around. More importantly, it depends on what God wants to do, which is why prayer is so important.
Having said that however, there are a number of things that quite commonly, even usually, occur when such groups are established.
1) Relationships will be built with the regular staff, who may eventually even get involved to some extent in the group.
2) Even people just walking by will notice, even take a second look at, the bible on the table. This is an example of what the group is intended to be, i.e. a “Kingdom Presence” in that place. Even if all that happens on a given day is that one person notices the bible then, at the very least, that person has been caused to think (if even for moment) that there is another (spiritual) dimension to life which they might not have done if the group had not been there. I call this, even if small, a Kingdom Victory.
3) In the course of time, some will perhaps stop and ask a question; others will enter into a conversation about what the group is doing; someone may even sit down and participate for a while; and then there are the joyous occasions, when someone will return next time and become part of the group and start on a journey of Discipleship.
I want to emphasise that this is not theory. All these things are experienced every week in groups around the world and are producing fruit for God’s glory.
For more help with this, go to the ‘Toolbox’ tab on this site.
The ‘Frontliner’ Challenge
This is not hard. All you need is a few dollars for a coffee, two hours of time, and desire to obey Jesus exhortation to ‘Go and make disciples’. So I encourage everybody to try this, and you will see fruit
Also, guess what? Then you have become a ‘Frontliner’!
One thing more. This site has followers around the world, so if anyone does try this, please let us know. It is always encouraging (for everybody) to hear good news stories!
Praise God for ‘Frontliners’!