How many lost people do you know? In this video, author and speaker, Rachel Lovingood, explains how important it is to get to know our neighbors and people who are nothing like us. evangelism works best through relationships so how can we go about building those with people we cannot relate to?
The entire video is above, and the complete transcript is below.
You know the second greatest commandment? It’s “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself”. I mean, Jesus is very clear about that.
But one thing I’ve noticed in my years of church work and just being a “church lady” so to speak and married to a minister for 31 years, is that that’s a lot easier said than done. Because if you’re in church very long you’ll begin to notice, you kind of sometimes live in a church bubble. It’s us and these people because we’re involved and we’re committed and that’s super good. But then again, what about all those people outside the church? What about those people down the street?
And I’ll never forget being convicted several, several years ago – like way back – of just being convicted when we were supposed to list lost people that we were praying for to bring to a certain event and I couldn’t think of any lost friends. That is overwhelmingly convicting.
And God began a process in me years and years ago to say, “How are you being intentional about developing relationships with people who are nothing like you?”
Because here’s what I know, I can get to know somebody who has a lot in common with me. Boom, boom, boom. You know, you moved in across the street, we have all this in common, we can be best friends, and we can carpool. But if you move in across the street from me and you’re completely different from me, it can be tough to develop a relationship.
Through personal experience and being involved in church work, we’ve noticed this: the vast majority of people are brought to faith in Christ through relationships. Now there’s those other random times in which somebody watched TV or cold-turkey evangelism. It does work. But in general, in our lives, the evangelism that we see happening comes through relationships. Through getting to know somebody over coffee or whatever. And inviting people into your home or just taking a walk around the neighborhood.
So God began to impress upon me that I needed to live my life different. And my brain just works this way, I just have to make a plan. So I began to develop some different principles and practices and reminders, if you will, of things that I want to be sure are a part of my life. Because if we’re not intentional about it, we won’t do it.
We can say, “I’m going to go get to know people who are different than me. I’m going to cross some racial boundaries. I’m going to cross some socio-economic boundaries.” But unless we’re willing to find a way to be intentional, what happens is, we let that fall to the wayside. Because it’s hard. And that’s why, relationships are hard.
Some of the reminders that I would like to throw out to you are this: Nobody wants to be your project. It’s all about relationships. A lot of times when you invite somebody to something, you invite them to coffee, you invite them to church – especially if you invite them to church first – and they turn you down, a lot of times it’s a test. Do you care enough about me to want to be my friend even if I’m not willing to go to church and be a spiritual notch on your belt?
I had a neighbor that lived across the street from me that was literally the opposite of me in every way. And through developing a relationship with her over the last 12 years, I learned so many important principles.
I would just challenge you with this: Find ways, find Bible studies, find practices that you can study, that you can check out, that you can help put into practice. Principles that will help you be intentional because it’s what God called us to do. Romans 13:9 says it this way, “All the laws are summed up with this: Love your neighbor as yourself.” How good are we doing at that? Probably not so great.
I will say this, in the world we live in today, we need more people who are willing to cross boundaries than are willing to set them.