Journeys are interesting.
Some journeys take us to faraway places. We go where everything is new and fresh. We stare wide-eyed at the people, food, and culture which are all different from what we normally experience. It’s wonderful and exciting.
Other times the journey keeps us close to home, but it is still a journey. When God calls us to minister to people in our own backyard, life can still be interesting and we are still doing God’s will.
The Great Commission-—Only Overseas?
At the end of Matthew’s Gospel Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
While a lot of press gets put on the “all nations” part of the command, we should remember that it also applies to where we live right now.
In fact, most Christians throughout history, including those living in our present age of quick and inexpensive travel, have not been called to be overseas missionaries, but to serve God and live for him right where we are.
We may think, “My own home? That’s boring. That’s not exciting.” But this isn’t correct. For wherever God uses us, it is sometimes exciting, often challenging, and always fulfilling. But never boring. Even where we live.
God’s Heart for the Lost Needs to be Ours
The command to make disciples doesn’t spring up out of thin air. It comes directly from the heart of God, “who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth”
(1 Timothy 2:4).
As followers of Christ, we are motivated to share the gospel by his love for the lost. From there we work to build people up in the faith, for them to know God and the Bible better and to be the people he wants them to be. In short, because God loves all people, he wants us to make disciples.
Our Sphere of Influence
We have a responsibility to share the gospel (the first step in making a disciple) with those whom God has put into our sphere of influence. That being said, where should we start? There are two main places where we can start the process of making disciples of Jesus.
1. Our place of employment.
2. Our local church.
In regard to the first, keep in mind that literally every job is a mission field. Every job is a calling from God.
Your Job Is Your Mission Field
When we go to work as Christ’s ambassadors, with a missionary mindset, work becomes far more than just punching the clock and trying to get through the day. Even if we enjoy our jobs, it becomes more than that. God is with us wherever we work and we have the honor and privilege of sharing him with our coworkers and bosses. With this mindset, our jobs have eternal significance. We are not just building our careers; we are building God’s kingdom.
One of the great things about this is that it’s true no matter where we work. God’s desire is for all people to come to faith in him, and that means God sends his people into a wide variety of workplaces. It’s not so much the position that matters, it’s how we can serve the Lord in that position.
How Can We Do It?
Let’s start with a coworker who is an unbeliever. How can we share God with this person?
One way is to have a conversation that is specifically about God. Some of us will have more freedom at our workplaces to do this than others, but we should ask God to give us wisdom to make the most of every opportunity.
We can also be good listeners. All people have problems and people with problems want to tell those problems to others. God can use us to listen and be a friend to others and share with them what the Bible has to say that is relevant to their issue.
Another way is by telling others about ourselves. During breaks or before or after work we can let our friends know what we do in our free time. For example, we can say one of the following:
• I go to church on Sundays.
• I go to a Bible study on Wednesday nights.
• I like to read the Bible.
• I really like this movie I saw recently (which happens to be a Christian movie).
Any of these comments can spark interest or a question from the person you’re talking to. We also have opportunities to invite people to church, a small group, or Bible study.
In building a genuine friendship, we can treat our coworker to coffee so that we can get to know them better in a relaxed, non-threatening atmosphere.
Let’s say that this person is agreeable and in time becomes a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. If they aren’t going to a church already, we can invite the person to our church’s worship service or small group. But let’s not stop there. In order to make a disciple of Christ, we need to continue to spend time with them, discipling them ourselves. This means regularly studying the Bible, praying, doing service projects—really living out the Christian life together and within the body of Christ.
Making disciples is a long-haul call from the Lord. It takes time to invest into someone else’s life; there’s no other way around it.
Even in the Church
Another place where we can make disciples is in the church we currently attend.
This may strike some as odd. After all, isn’t the church already making disciples? Perhaps, but even if one faithfully attends worship services and a small group, a key element could be missing—a personal, one-on-one touch. That’s where you come in. Everyone needs someone close to them with whom they can share their life. Don’t take it for granted that just because someone attends church, it means that they are connected to someone else in this way.
As with the person we’re discipling at work, we continue to meet and spend time with the friend from church as we disciple them ourselves.
As we do this, we need to be preparing this person to in turn go and find someone else whom they can disciple. A true disciple of Jesus is at some point going to look for someone whom they can also make into a true disciple.
God Is Always With You
As we head off on our journey, it’s nice to have a friend or parents send us on our way, waving from the front porch and wishing us well. God not only does this, but then he gets off the porch and comes with us. We are not alone; God is always with us.
God hasn’t led you to your present place of employment and church by accident, nor to fail in serving him, but to succeed in being his ambassador, to be faithful as God’s representative.
Remember Jesus’ words of hope and confidence in the Great Commission: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
Chris Hearn has been a Senior Pastor for eight years and has written the book, Let’s Meet God: Answering Common Questions Concerning Christianity (www.letsmeetgod.com). He currently lives in Saint Johns, Michigan with his wife and two children.