Last month, a team of nine college students from Henderson Hills Baptist Church in Edmond, Oklahoma sacrificed their spring breaks to serve our church and college ministry. To my surprise, these students had the choice between a mission trip to North Africa or Tempe, and they chose Tempe. Based on their choice, these students must have seen missional value in merely joining our church in its regular ministry rhythms. If a team of nine college students would choose Tempe for a mission trip, then it means a harvest of gospel opportunity exists all around us as members of Church on Mill.
Here are three ways that the team lived out mission during their trip that we are able to replicate in our daily lives.
- They prioritized the Word.
Each morning, the students woke up early to join the collegiate ministry staff for a study through the book of James. This would have been an easy thing for all of us to forgo, especially given the long days filled with nonstop work. However, the team shocked us when they not only showed up early each day, but when they also came with energy and readiness to give insight, despite physical exhaustion.
Their efforts paid off. With minds filled with God’s Word, they pursued ministry each day with joy, excitement, and boldness. They could see ministry opportunities that they would have otherwise missed. They could take disappointments, frustrations, and setbacks in stride and press on.
What would happen if you began each morning with God’s Word? What would happen if you began some mornings in community with others over God’s Word? How would you see your workplace differently? What opportunities would be obvious that you would have missed otherwise?
Perhaps consider waking up thirty minutes earlier to meet up with another church member before work and read through a book of the Bible and pray. Or maybe rethink your family’s busy morning routine to incorporate time in the Word together over breakfast. There are many small ways to be in the Word together before the day even begins.
- They boldly shared the gospel.
The students spent most of their time boldly engaging other college students in spiritual conversations. The collegiate staff did not prescribe a trendy method. Rather, we sent them out with tools to start conversations about students’ beliefs. The team was shocked at how willing students were to talk about faith, and many of them engaged in long conversations about the gospel with others. This was all because they simply asked a few pointed questions.
Bold evangelism can be a lost art in our Christian culture. We think we need clever questions or methods to capture attention. Or, in the name of relational evangelism, we sit idly by, waiting for our unbelieving friends, family, and coworkers to start spiritual conversations with us. All the while, their souls sit in peril while we consider the least awkward way to bring up Jesus.
We do not have to be eloquent, clever, or wise to start conversations about the gospel. We just need to initiate, even if it is awkward, remembering how God has initiated with each one of us. May we people like the apostle Paul who rested in the gospel’s power rather than his own eloquence (1 Cor. 2:4-5). In light of this, who can you boldly approach this week? How can you stop dancing around the gospel and start asking questions?
- They immersed themselves in church life.
The team joined the church in the activities we were already doing. On Sunday morning, they worshiped in the gatherings and joined in on the Connection Classes. In the evening, they went to Gospel Communities. On Wednesday night, they taught and cared for kids. On Thursday, they joined the staff for their weekly devotional. Throughout the week, they joined in on the discussions in the collegiate and international Bible studies. So much of what they did wasn’t fancy. It was normal church life.
The church is God’s plan to reach the world with the gospel (Matt. 28:18-20, Eph. 3:10), and therefore, joining into the existing life of the church is one of the best ways to reach the lost for Christ. Every Sunday morning, unbelievers visit our church and listen to the preached Word. Every week, parents drop off their kids to soak in the stories of the Bible. Every week, college students from around the world participate in Bible studies and learn about Jesus for the very first time. The church is already engaging our community with the gospel. How can you join in with what is already going on? How can you see new opportunities in familiar rhythms?
Perhaps you can start a conversation with the family who has sat in front of you the past month and invite them over for dinner. Or you can find opportunities to share Jesus and to love the dozens of kids running around the sanctuary on a Sunday morning. Or you can approach a college student and ask if they would read the Bible with you. The missional opportunities in our body are endless.
We do not have to do much to find missional opportunities. We simply need eyes to see the opportunities that God has already placed around us. Thank you, Henderson Hills college students, for not just your service, but also for your example that will carry far beyond the week you spent here.
-Maddie Pinto, Director of College Ministry
Check out how Zach and Natanya (two of the students who served) felt about serving ASU and Church on Mill in the videos below.