2021 was a big year for Liberty Baptist. We celebrated our birthday—175 years of Great Commission impact—revised our vision, and clarified our mission and core values.
There was a lot of internal conversation, a good bit of house-keeping, and plenty of excitement as we invited each other to dive deep into the strategy map, go through the new Next Steps process, and affirm the direction we believe God is leading us to go.
But we knew 2022 was meant to be different. In this year, we sense God directing our gaze outward to our neighbors, to our community, and to those who are spiritually wandering all around us.
So in January, we launched Pursue22, an initiative to gladly spend our lives by looking outward, seeing those around us who do not yet have a relationship with Jesus, and pursuing them for Gospel impact.
In January, we asked 100% of our congregation to identify at least one person for whom they could pray that God would move in their life. Prayer is not the only investment to be made, but it is where we need to begin. We have already committed to pray for hundreds of our neighbors and family members, and we invite you to add yours if you have not already.
You can stop by one of the “Who Will You Pursue?” stations next time you’re on campus, write down a name, and join us as we spread the good news of God’s love in and around Chelsea.
Below, you’ll find information and resources on how to sustain your own part in this mission to see God move among those in our community who do not yet know Jesus.
STEP 1 – BEGIN WITH PRAYER (January)
Prayer ought to be the first step any church takes in fulfilling the Great Commission. We don’t pray to the exclusion of activity, but we pray before, during, and after all our activity!
The reason is simple and Jesus expressed it well, “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). We pray for our not-yet believing neighbors because we recognize that salvation is a God thing! Only He can bring the dead to life. Below is a video that will help guide you as you pray for someone who does not have a relationship with Christ.
STEP 2 – LISTEN TO THEIR STORY (February/March)
Prayer lays the foundation. At some point, it’s time to begin asking God specifically to provide you with an opportunity to have a spiritual conversation with the person God has led you to. In February and March, we’re encouraging everyone participating in Pursue22 to engage in that spiritual conversation. At Liberty, we define a spiritual conversation as one which includes any of the following topics: God, church, prayer, or the Gospel.
Don’t feel like you have to “close the deal” in this conversation. Discipleship happens in the context of relationships. While in the course of listening to their story, you may be blessed with the opportunity to invite this person to follow Jesus right away, trust that God will guide the conversation. Simply take the opportunity to steer the conversation toward spiritual things, and see where the Holy Spirit leads.
STEP 3 – EAT A MEAL WITH THEM (April/May)
As we mentioned above, discipleship happens in the context of relationship. When Jesus called His twelve disciples, He did not immediately send them out to multiply and go on mission. He poured into them for years, living life with them, traveling together, eating together, and sharing in miraculous ministry together.
We should not expect relationships to grow without time investment. One of the best and most culturally embraced ways to spend time with people is over food or coffee. So, the ask during these months is very simple. Enjoy a conversation with your neighbor over coffee or a meal.
There is one qualification: If you go out, you buy! Seriously. Bless them by either providing a family meal in your own home, or by going out somewhere and picking up the ticket.
Oh, and don’t overcomplicate the ask. It can be as simple as a text that says, “Hey neighbor, we’d love to get to know y’all better. Would you be up for coming to our place for dinner sometime next week?” That same line would work in a face-to-face conversation, too.
STEP 4 – SERVE THEM IN SOME WAY (As the need arises)
You want to surprise a neighbor in our very self-sufficient culture? Find an opportunity to serve them. We live in a time when everyone likes to say, “I’m good!” In some ways, our affluent community and “garage-door” culture—where everyone spends very little time outside their homes—have amplified this issue. No one needs help.
Remember that relationship is the key here. If you’ve had your listening ears on, there’s almost certainly something that your neighbor is struggling with. Perhaps you learn of a need in the course of a normal conversation—step in and do something to meet that need!
Or perhaps you catch them working on a project outside, ask if you can jump in and lend a hand! Whether you hold the ladder, rake some leaves, or brush some paint, the point is to serve your neighbor like Jesus would, and continue the conversation as you do.
A quick word of caution: You’ll want to have at least some relational capital in the bank here. If you do not even know your neighbor’s name and you start cutting their grass, you may find you’ve created an issue rather than opened a door!
Relationship depth brings trust, and trust brings open doors to serve and talk. So, focus on the friendship, and the opportunity to serve will come soon enough.
STEP 5 – SHARE YOUR STORY WITH THEM (As the door opens)
At some point, it’s time to give your neighbor a window into the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You are that window. Let them see truth, grace, and God’s magnificent love through you by sharing your story with them.
Again, don’t overcomplicate this. By this point, you have prayed for this person, engaged them in spiritual conversations, invested in them relationally over food or coffee, and hopefully served them in some way. After these significant investments, you have every right to tell your friend about what Christ has done in your life. You can begin by saying something as simple as, “Hey, I know we’ve talked about church/prayer/God/etc., but, do you mind if I share my own story with you?”
But remember, we live in a post-modern society where what works for you does not necessarily mean anything for them. In the event that your story is well-received, go a step further and either A) ask them what they think about sin, Christ’s sacrifice, and God’s love for them, or B) invite them to follow Christ with you.
This can be the most intimidating element of investing in someone for Gospel impact, but we need to remember that Jesus is with us (Matthew 28:20), and that He promises to provide the words we need when we are His witnesses (Luke 12:11)—whether in a court setting or just a conversation with a neighbor.
Besides, the eternal life of your friend is at stake. Isn’t the risk of awkwardly fumbling your way through a conversation worth the possible reward of one day standing side-by-side before the Savior? We both know the answer is YES.
So look outward, and pursue the person God has called you to pursue!