Although the world of personal connection and ministry seems to be literally changing every day, our mission as followers of Jesus is still the same. “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you…” are words that have relevance across time, culture, and place. This pandemic did not catch the Father off guard so we can trust that He has a plan and desire to use it for His Glory and our good. So how are we to live as “sent” people in a world that is shutting down, quarantined, and becoming more isolated? Below are suggestions intended to provide some initial thoughts. These suggestions are not to contradict the wisdom of officials and leaders in regards to gathering in groups but simple ways of how best to live our lives while still loving our neighbor in the midst of these days.
This may be the best and easiest way to live sent in these days of social distancing. Studies show that 60% of people do not know their neighbor’s names. As more people are restricted to working from their homes, there will be greater opportunities to engage with them. Look for times when they are out, introduce yourself (but keep the social distance and refrain from handshaking), and just get to know them. Simply build a bridge of friendship. In so doing, you will be able to ask how if you can serve them or pray for them.
As you get out for a walk or drive around, pray for your neighborhood. Look at people out, pray for them, if possible engage in a conversation (while keeping a safe distance) and ask them how you can pray for them. You will be amazed at how this can open doors for real conversation. For more information on prayer walking, check out:
Grab a sheet of paper and write the church’s sermon website (www.shades.org/media) on it. Keep a few of these with you so that if you have an encounter with a neighbor, you can easily had out as an invite to join in with hundreds of others for the weekend services.
Most communities and neighborhoods have a Facebook page or a page like that of Next Door. Join in those groups so that you are aware of what people are thinking or feeling or even what some might need right around you. This will inform you on how to pray specifically for your neighbors and see how a need might be met.
This is a great way to disciple your kids and others during this season of restricted movement. Pick a spot or room and designate a certain time of day in which everyone spends a portion of time in prayer. The point is that it is designating a special place, and special time in the home. For example, it might be laundry room, storage closet, or basement room. From 10-11 a.m., the “laundry room” is our prayer room. Depending on the number and their ages, direct them to spend 5-10-15 minutes in the prayer room. You could give them some verses to read or prayer points such as praying for health, leaders, neighbors, missionaries, and for the Gospel to advance.
What a great activity to involve the children. There are a number of people who are in hospitals or nursing home facilities that will have restricted visits from loved ones. This simple and easy task reminds them they are loved and thought about in times of loneliness and anxiety. Additionally you could write a letter to a missionary or church planter. You can obtain a list of individuals from our missions office. Draw a happy picture and/or write a simple note letting them know they are being prayed for by you and your family.
As you become aware of needs in the neighborhood by prayer-walking, the neighborhood page, etc. take the initiative to invite some others with you to serve a practical need. It may be as simple as taking the trashcans of some elderly people to the curb to mowing the lawn of someone with an auto-immune issue.
If the time of social distancing and confinement continues, people will begin to feel disconnected. There are apps such as GroupMe and WhatsApp in which you can create a group with those in your neighborhood or work place to foster connectedness.
As many schools have shut down, some children who were used to the free meals will still need food. Check with the city page or local schools page to see if there are opportunities to serve in meeting some specific, tangible ways.
As you encounter people to start conversations, always look for places of common interest. The coronavirus has given anyone we meet a natural point of connection. It has affected everyone. Thus it is very easy to start a conversation with anyone. After starting the conversation, be intentional to bridge the conversation to the Gospel. The foundation of learning to live sent is in prayer. As you begin each day, ask the Lord to lead and guide you towards good conversations with your neighbors and friends. Pray in faith, believing he will do it. Then LEAP:
These are just a few suggestions of missional living during such a time as this! May you be blessed and God glorified as we take each day and choose to live sent!