10 Nov, 2015 The Four Fields – Part II
Last month I began to share with you an encounter I had with a young man as he shared with me a presentation called ‘The Four Fields’. Please re-read Part 1 to give you context for Part 2.
‘Go’ to ‘Engage’ is the first field and without a doubt, engagement is a critical first step when it comes to working in God’s harvest field. Salt must engage with the earth and light must engage with the world.
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. NIV
Considering how to be salt to those around us without being too heavy handed, or seeking to be light without blazing too intensely is a key. So often we are so busy with family life, church life and business, we struggle to find a way to engage with others.
Keys to Engaging with non-Church people
I suggest the following when thinking about engagement,
- What do I enjoy doing which includes others? (Hobbies, sports, recreation, relaxation, shopping, cooking, building etc)
- What do I like doing which allows me the opportunity to include others? (Gardening, walking, dog obedience school, car rally’s, library)
- What am I good at and what skills can I share with others?
- Who are the type of people I really connect with and how can I make time to be with them? (Join others groups, invite to barbeques and dinner parties)
- How do I be salt and light in this situation realising that whilst we will end up seeding gospel seeds, we are presently tilling the soil and preparing the ground for those seeds.
A story to illustrate: Today’s New Friend
Just today a friend and I went visiting people in one of the streets in our town, looking for opportunities to connect and maybe seed. It was a great morning with some very warm conversations and one young man coming to Christ. One of the conversations we had was with an older gentleman who shared very respectfully that he had no interest in religion including Christianity. We conversed back and forth seeking to find points of connection and agreement and in time he changed from being politely defensive to receptive and relaxed. He wanted to be respected and not pressured down a pathway he presently felt that he had no interest in. When he perceived that he was given that respect he began to relax and engage. We joked, laughed, disagreed and talked on. I was looking to find if he was keen to further engagements, but became aware that he was very comfortable to keep this one conversation a single event. Still seeking for an opportunity to sow some seeds if possible, I asked him if he had seen the first ‘Hope for All’ book which had been distributed nation-wide. He said ‘No’, and I said, “Well, it’s a fascinating read about why and how the Christian message first came to New Zealand.” He said, “Sure, give me one, I will read it.” Because we took the time to engage, he changed internally and opened himself up to a powerful gospel seed. More was said during which time our first conversation became open ground for the seed he had taken and for potentially new seeds to come. Engagement made seed sowing possible. Had we not spent time connecting, we would not have been able to know time seeding.
A story to illustrate: Ken the Agnostic
Some years ago I was connecting with an older man who was a self proclaimed agnostic. Struggling with arthritis He would take his little dog for a daily walk onto the church grounds to defecate. Hobbling past the window of my office I would see him and often pop out to chat. During those times of engagement we would talk about politics, weather, sports and the odd ‘religious’ talk. A friendship developed. He knew he was accepted and respected. One particular day my heart went out to him with the pain he was going through with his seven year battle with arthritis. I caught up with him out on the church lawn and asked how he was. He proceeded to share about his great discomfort in his knees and hips. Then I said, “Ken, I know that you call yourself an agnostic, but I believe that God knows you and sees you suffering with the pain of your arthritis and that He cares. Over the years I have prayed for people who have health needs and have seen God heal some. Can I pray for you Ken?” He paused and then nodded his approval. I prayed and as I did I sensed a respectful openness from Ken. When I finished, we both looked awkwardly at each other and then he thanked me and hobbled home. I felt like a failure. What I did not know was that he has been supremely impacted by my concern and prayer. His heart began to open. The next day he woke up to find himself pain free for the first time in seven years. Engagement had opened the door to an undeniable miracle.
Understand that as we ‘Go’ and engage, we will be given opportunities to plant ‘Gospel’ seeds, and that is the focus of next month.
Bringing it Home
My fellow church leader, please find time, make time, for engaging with others. You may just find yourself in a whole new harvest field. Your people will follow your lead as they watch you and hear your stories.