One of the greatest challenges that Christians face has a lot to do with you, personally. Let me explain: many churches in this country are plateaued or declining. Church vitality is a very complex issue. I know. I have spent much of my life learning all I can about churches. One of the greatest challenges for most churches is this: most churches have lost the dynamic of the whole congregation being in mission.
You are probably not too excited about the concept of outreach. You may be thinking, “I’m not knocking on doors, talking to strangers.” Actually, I hope you don’t. That approach is ineffective.
Here is a small challenge to stretch your outreach potential: When you go out to eat in a restaurant, try the waiter/waitress ministry. When the waiter comes to your table, see if he has a nametag. If he doesn’t, ask him his name. If you can think of something interesting to say, then do it.
When your waiter brings your food, say, “Jon, we are going to pray for our dinner. Is there anything I can pray for you…anything at all?” (I recommend you say it just that way.)
Most waiters and waitresses will give you something to pray for. A few who will say, “Everything is good right now.” Then you say, “Okay, we will thank God all is good for you right now.” However, be prepared. Sometimes your waiter will say something personal, or tragic. Be prepared. Let Jon know you will pray as you ask God to bless the meal.
#1) You will discover you can talk to a stranger, in public, about spiritual issues. #2) You will learn people are more receptive than you thought. #3) You will be amazed about what someone will tell you in a public setting – with people all around, at the other tables, at his place of work. #4) Most everyone you see has something troubling them – something worthy of prayer. People everywhere are carrying burdens. You willingness to pray is huge for the person carrying that burden.
Jon will learn that a Christian prays over a meal. He will also learn you are serious about your faith. He will understand your Christianity is not limited to a church building. Most of all, Jon will learn that you care. Don’t be shocked, if, when he brings the bill, Jon spills more of his life to you. You may develop a relationship that could go further.
Leave Jon a big tip. Waiters and waitresses say the “after-church crowd” is the cheapest group they serve. Practice generosity on Jon. Not to show off, but to experience Christian generosity.
What would happen if everyone in your church practiced this? Do you think it would eventually have an impact? I think it would. Further, it would have an impact on you, and those in your church. You will begin to take Christianity public. Who knows where that will lead? Who knows what that would mean visibly for your church the whole church, begins a lifestyle of outreach and mission?
Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries, is known as the Church Doctor. His most recent e-books are The Future Is Now and The J-Dog Journey, available at no cost. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by email, Twitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.