Getting out of one’s comfort zone is not easy. For most Christians it is just enough to say “hi” to their neighbors or just to pray for them. Developing a relationship with them is out of the question. This is rationalized by saying these are private individuals and that you do not want to disturb them. I have lived in New York City for a long time, and it is here that I have come to realize that you can live next door to others and never know their names, and that was acceptable. If we are going to impact our communities, we have to begin with one neighbor at a time. Jesus was accused of being friendly with sinners. As a matter of fact, He went out of His way to come into contact with them. Paul also typifies this attitude; he desired to go to the Gentiles. He considered himself an apostle to the Gentiles. His missionary plan was to travel throughout the Roman Empire and to eventually end up in Rome. He believed that from Rome he could have a greater impact.
We should relish every opportunity we get to be in contact with those around us. Wherever we are we should look for opportunities to reach out to those around us. When we personally grasp the magnitude of the gift that God has given to all mankind, we will have no other reason not to become deliberate in our missionary activities. After all, Jesus is the single greatest gift to mankind. Bill Hybels said: “Let me say it again: the single greatest gift you can give someone is an introduction to the God who asked his Son to go the unthinkable distance to redeem them.” We should live our lives being conscious about those around us. We will begin to notice that God is working around us in the lives of those He has connected us to. Jesus was a storyteller. We can imitate this characteristic of Jesus. We should develop, first of all, our stories of our God encounters. Do not hesitate to share your God encounters with others. It is through these stories we will get the opportunities to share the love of God.
Some of the greatest stories in the Bible are about the deliberate efforts of those who were willing to cross the barriers and reach out to others. In so doing, they were able to share the love of God and lead those individuals into a personal relationship. This often resulted in the entire family accepting Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. We should utilize every opportunity. As a matter of fact, we should seek to create opportunities that will provide opportunities to share our stories with others. Considering that we are living in a time that is not so friendly to the Church, we have to create these opportunities outside of the Church community. We should begin at the place we work, our next-door neighbor, the supermarket where we shop, the gas station we use regularly, our barber or hair stylist, the taxi driver we frequently use, and any place we come in contact with people. We have to get comfortable walking across the room and into the lives of others. That is what God wants from us.
As we engage people, we will begin to discover their stories. Those who have been attending church for a long time will have fewer friends that are non-Christians. According to Bill Hybels, “The longer a person attends church, the fewer evangelistic discussions they engage in with family members and friends.” Therefore, there has to be a deliberate effort to find and interact with people outside of the church. This will create opportunities to minister into the lives of others. Hybels continues to make the point that as we look for the next steps it becomes more risky. But since it is the Holy Spirit that is guiding this process, it is a calculated next step. The position I hold in this engagement is that of a resource provider. I might not have all the resources, but I can point people to where the resources are.
It is clear that people often send direct and indirect signals of their intentions. As Christ’s followers, we have to be conscious of those signals and be ready to act. This is possible if we are with people. We cannot be isolated from the public and expect to have any significant impact on their lives. The power of a story is invaluable. It is here that people will be able to grasp the “magnificent truth that the gospel has direct implications for the meaning of their stories, all sorts of light bulbs flicker to life.” As we develop our stories we should avoid some pitfalls. Hybels calls them four criticisms: “Criticism #1: long-windedness, Criticism #2: fuzziness, Criticism #3: religionese, Criticism #4: superiority.” Religionese is the use of religious terms foreign to the non-Christian. The story should elevate the grace of God, not one’s ego. Telling our stories of redemption and restoration is a powerful tool in advancing the Gospel Message. Make sure that your stories are not hindered by superficial additions, just simple and based on the Gospel.
 Hybels, Just Walk Across the Room, Kindle Locations, 496-497.
 Hybels, Just Walk Across the Room, Kindle Locations, 1058-1059
 Hybels, Just Walk Across the Room, Kindle Locations, 2076-2078.
 Hybels, Just Walk Across the Room, Kindle Locations, 2177-2190.