The church I grew up in is really into evangelism and they are good at it. They have done it all. They walked the streets at night striking up conversations with complete strangers. They passed out gospel tracts, performed street theater and knocked on every door in the neighborhood. You would think that growing up in a community like that would make me a pro when it comes to sharing my faith in Jesus Christ. I am not.
It may have something to do with being transplanted to New England. You don’t talk to your neighbors around here let alone complete strangers. Seriously, those stone walls that line our property lines are there for a reason.
The bigger reason probably has to do with my personality. If I worked in sales, my family would now be living in a homeless shelter. Some people are wired for that sort of evangelism, but most of us are not. When we have felt guilty enough to try it, it probably went something like this:
You (after working up the nerve by hyperventilating into a paper, you walk next door and carefully knock on the side door because no true New Englander ever uses the front door): Hi neighbor, sorry to intrude, but how are you doing?
Neighbor (It’s been years since someone, other than a Jehovah’s Witness, has knocked on his door without prior warning, so he is a little offput by your presence but does his best to be conversational): I’d be all set, if it didn’t have to spend my Saturday fixing my washing machine.
You: Sorry to hear that, but speaking of clean, would you like to hear how Jesus made me clean? He is the best washing machine I’ve ever known.
Neighbor: (Neighbor stands with a dark look that says that he would rather see the New York Jets win the Super Bowl than hear the answer to your question.)
The conversations awkwardly ends and you go home wondering if this is what Jesus meant by “making disciples.”
Encounters like this, both real and imagined, have made me wonder if there is another way. I may have found an alternative the other day. One that fits me anyway. My friend, who is on staff at the Free Christian Church in Andover, calls it “praying for your six.” I think they got the idea from the Vineyard Church in Cambridge.
It’s rather simple …
Start by asking God for the names of six people in your area who need a meaningful relationship with Christ.
Write down the names of the six that God shows you and start to pray for them on a regular basis.
What do you pray for? Here are a couple of ideas. Ask God to …
- Bless them
- Make His presence known to them
- Stir a hunger with them, a sense that something is missing
- Show me how I can pray for them specifically and to bring them to mind throughout the day.
Finally, make yourself available and watch for what happens. It may happen tomorrow, it might happen six months or years from now. You never know with God. But what I do know is that something will happen if each of us were moved by God’s Holy Spirit to pray for our neighbors, friends, family members and co-workers.
Here’s one example to whet your appetite. My friend from Andover committed to praying for the people at the Y that he worked out with. He prayed and watched for something to happen. One day, completely out of the blue, one of the men invited him over to his house for coffee and proceeded to pour out his life story. That happened in New England. Really. I don’t know if he is a Christian yet, but I’d call that invite a regional miracle and my friend’s willingness to listen an act of love.