Great Commission living is a big deal in the world of church planting… 

But you might be surprised to learn that “personal evangelism” is what most church planters score lowest in during assessment.  Why is that?  A major reason is that many candidates serve on church staffs while others spend their free time in seminary classrooms.  Let’s be honest, it’s hard to live on mission when you spend the majority of your waking hours in a church building.  So what’s an aspiring church planter to do?  Well here are 7 ways that pastors and seminary students can leverage their “off-campus” time to live a Great Commission life.

4 Ways To Meet People

A twenty + year missionary once told me that 80% of evangelism is hunting for the right context.  Here are some practices that I’ve found conducive to missional living: 

  • Become a Southerner.
    • Southerners act like everyone is their friend, it creeps northerners out.  If you get in the habit of greeting people you’ll get some weird looks but you’ll also be amazed at the relationships you can develop. 
  • Get a dog (or have a baby).
    • Dogs have to be walked.  Getting a dog will force you to put down the John Calvin and go outside.  Dogs are also a great way to strike up conversation (you’ve got a Schnauzer? I’ve got a Schnauzer!).  Babies accomplish this same goal.  Who can resist smiling at a baby? My 8-month old would probably score higher than me on an evangelism assessment. 
  • Walk: See get a Dog.
    • Walking or running is a great way to develop familiarity with your neighbors.  It also shows people that you’re a consistent part of the neighborhood and not an unfamiliar outsider trying to strike up a conversation with them.
  • Move Out.
    • This one is specifically for seminary students.  I know that seminary housing is convenient and affordable.  But it’s going to be difficult to live missionally if you spend all day in class and live in dorm full of future pastors.  You can usually find comparable housing nearby and if you spend a little extra money to live on mission I think God will take care of you.

3 Ways To Gather People

  • Watch TV.
    • Check mark anyone?  Seriously though, almost all non-Christians watch TV.  If you can find commonality around a show or sporting event it’s a great low-pressure way to go from a conversation to a hang out: the World Cup was great for this.
  • Read a book.
    • Book clubs are an easy way to have deep conversations in a non-threatening environment.  By reading books that portray Christians in a positive light you can help people be receptive to the gospel.  This is also a great way to mobilize your small group for missional living.
  • Share a meal.
    • Everyone eats…profound I know.  But sharing a casual meal is a great way to build a relationship.   I’d recommend building a strong rapport before moving to this step because eating together can be intimidating to non-Christians.  I’ve found people more likely to come over for tacos if we’ve first watched Jack Bauer save the world together.

So there you go, 7 ways that pastors and seminary students can live a Great Commission lifestyle.  All Schnauzer inquirers should be addressed to our Network Director. Stay tuned for Five Great Commission Pitfalls To Avoid.

Josh Miller (@joshmiller0604) is a Church Planting Catalyst with Summit Network and a Church Planting Pastor at The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC.