To help you and your church do the Great Commission, here are some ways to begin to think globally. As you begin to expand your vision, perhaps your burden for your neighbors and the nations among you will increase:
Follow the news with Great Commission ears and eyes.
Most of us hear the news as events, but we should hear newsworthy happenings as calls to prayer. People who have never heard of Christ die every day due to war and famine. Governments are in turmoil. Natural disasters destroy homes and lives. If we pray as we hear the needs, God will grab our heart for the nations. It’s possible in some cases we might be the only person who has ever prayed for some people around the globe.
Put a map on a wall in your home (or get a globe).
Frankly, North Americans can sometimes be geographically ignorant. And, it’s easy to ignore the spiritual needs of the world when people are only anonymous folks living in a nation we cannot name. You might find yourself more interested in the nations—and praying more for them—when a map is always before you and your family. Start by praying for a different country when your family says grace each night.
Take a look at who’s in your community.
My experience is that many church leaders assume their community looks like their church—and that’s not always the case. Learn about the ethnic makeup of your community and pray specifically for individual people groups in your ministry area. Your church might even partner with others to plant a church among one of these groups. Ask your pastor or another church staff member about obtaining a demographics study from the North American Mission Board.
Visit ethnic restaurants in your community.
Instead of choosing restaurants based on your tastes, visit restaurants just to learn about other cultures and food. Ask to meet the owners. Talk to servers who’ve been raised in other countries. Even if the food isn’t your favorite, you’ll probably like the people—and then pray more for them, their family, and their country of origin. Pray specifically for opportunities to invite your new friends to church and to your home.
Invite international students to your home.
If there is a university near your home, I suspect you’ll find international students there. Many of those students will never be invited to visit an American home, and some will spend holidays alone on their campus. Opening your home will not only invite fellowship and learning, but it will also open the door to sharing your faith.
Chuck Lawless is dean of doctoral studies and vice president of spiritual formation and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. For more from Lawless, visit chucklawless.com.