One of the biggest blockers to missional ministry in Australia is the over programmed, busy culture. We work long hours, drive our cars home, into our castles with their automatic drawbridges, and shut the doors behind us, never to be seen or heard by our neighbours.
Yet we are one of the few cultures that have 4 weeks of annual leave given to us each year, and most people use this in January! They are often renovating and gardening, sipping lattes at the local coffee shop, or overtaking the local beachside communities. People slow down, they emerge from their castles and they move into a ‘space’ that allows for relationship!
Here are three suggestions for how you can live missionally this holiday season, while remaining true to the intention of slowing down with those in your neighbourhood.
1. Throw a party!
Christmas and New Years are both great times to throw a street party… and not seem weird! Normal people throw parties! Jesus was big on parties, he had wine at his parties, and he ate with people all the time. They don’t have to be ‘Christian’ parties.
They don’t have to have gospel talks, and you may even choose not to say grace publicly so that your guests don’t feel awkward, depending on the situation. Most importantly, just be you. Or even better, be Jesus. Model his love to your guests. Provide for them, listen to them, set up your house to be welcoming (but not showy), and be prepared to give an answer for the way you live!
If you want to know more about throwing parties, check out Hugh Halter’s book
2. Model Incarnational living!
Missio Alliance have a great blog on this called ‘Gifting the Incarnation of Christ: A Spiritual Discipline for Christmas’. Do what Jesus did. Slow down, move into the neighbourhood, listen to people, and be present. Don’t start another program… stop the programs! Suspend the organized side of ministry long enough to focus on relationships. Decided what will be best and most authentic for the people you are seeking to relate with.
Walk alongside others, listen, learn from them, model Jesus to them. Spend time with people who are different from you. But stay with them, don’t flick from relationship to relationship, invest deeply with them, share life with them. Do what Jesus did.
3. Invite others to come!
Where are you going this Christmas? Are you going camping? To the beach? Maybe on a bushwalk? Invite others to come with you, with your family. Do what you love to do, but share it with others. Invite those who follow Christ to join you, and those who don’t. Christians need to have fun with each other, and be seen to be having fun by those who don’t follow Christ; most people want relationship and connection! So live missionally and be like Jesus – extend an invitation. Not only will you be investing in quality relationships, you will also help those who spend time with you, see Jesus in you. Give them a chance to see the difference that Jesus makes in the everyday.
Merry Christmas, and may your holiday season be filled with missional encounters as you participate with God in His mission in the world!