What do people do, what do they like to do, what do they have to do that they wish they didn't? What kinds of work do people do? What do they work for - money, success, survival, the weekend?
Where do people go when they aren't working? What do they do for play? What do they watch? Where do they spend their extra money?
Who lives where? Where do people live who don't have much? What kinds of opportunities are available for them? What are the main factors that make life difficult for them?
Understanding your community and the people who make it up is foundational to being on mission. The church is designed by God to be on mission, it's part of our identity. The mission is people, that's who God is after. He wants them to be part of his family. So we pursue people that we might invite them into our family, God's family.
To pursue people means to be able to engage them, to build relationships with them, to get close enough that you can love them and serve them. This is where it gets tough for so many of us who want to be on mission but don't know where to start. We tend to not talk with people because we don't understand them.
Here are a some ideas that may help you start to understand others better and which will ultimately enable you to build relationships through which you can become a better friend and neighbor.
- Ask God to help you love people the way that he loves people.
- Read through a local paper or two from cover to cover regularly.
- Vary your routine a bit, shop new places, try new things.
- Practice talking to people you don't know about things you don't know much about.
- Volunteer. Serve your community by yourself, with your family, or with friends.
- Make a new friend and try to be the best friend you can be to them.
- Take someone you've just met out for a coffee or invite them to dinner with your family.
- Recruit friends to be more intentional with you, challenge each other in this area.
- Work through The Gospel Primer by Caesar Kalinowski or The Tangible Kingdom Primer by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay. You may be amazed at how much you grow!