One day at a local restaurant, I ran into a former neighbor who had casually attended my church several years before. She waved to me from a table where she was sitting with a couple of her friends from work, so I went over to chat. We began with typical, polite conversation, but I also took the opportunity to ask how she was doing spiritually. She said she was not attending church but had been thinking a lot about God and probably needed to do something. I invited her back to our church, adding that if she chose not to come, I hoped she would go somewhere where she could connect with other believers and start moving toward Jesus.
A few weeks later, she greeted me in the church commons, and she wasn’t alone… Her two adult daughters, her grandchildren, and two other friends from work were with her. And this wasn’t a one-time visit. This lady has continued to attend consistently for more than a year now, showing a deeper hunger for the Lord than before. One of her daughters is also seeking God and asking questions about baptism. And it wasn’t just one of her daughters…
Another one of the ladies in the restaurant that day also decided to visit…and stay. She attended our First Step Class about six months after her first visit; then, she began reading and studying the baptism booklet, trying to process what it meant. After several more months, she committed herself to Christ and asked to be baptized. Since then, whenever I see her, I’ve noticed her face just beams with life.
So, that one brief encounter in a restaurant shows that being missional is about more than programs, activities, and events. Some of the most powerful missional moments are spontaneous opportunities God gives us to be salt and light right were we are, whether that’s our school, our neighborhood, or even the middle of a restaurant. We need to be aware that these simple, chance encounters can have eternal consequences, and then we need to have the courage to begin the conversation. In addition, we must be willing to give people time and space to process and hopefully yield to the gospel.