Thanksgiving and the Mission Field Around the Table
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November 25 is fast approaching. You probably have logistics plans, meal plans, and maybe even shopping plans for Black Friday. But do you have a plan to be on mission for the Savior?
Here are three serving suggestions to consider as your family gathers for turkey, stuffing, and all the fixings that come with Thanksgiving celebrations.
Serve authenticity as the main course
The first thing I teach in most every evangelism training class is, “if you do not have a sincere, authentic desire to see this person come to the Lord, they will sense it from a mile away – and they will tune you out.” We must be very careful not to view family members as some kind of project or to view Thanksgiving as an opportunity to simply speed through a tract so we can add a few more clicks to our gospel presentation counter. How can we prevent this?
Right now, take a moment to ask the Lord to help you view each person you’ll see around the table as someone who is made in the image of God. Someone who God loves tremendously and for whom He sacrificed His only Son. Ask Him to fill your heart with compassion, concern, and love for each person so that you may approach them with genuine realness like they’ve never before seen.
If we don’t approach our family members with an authentic concern for the state of their soul, then we really don’t have much reason to expect them to be moved when we share. Why not pray now for God to work in your heart and for Him to prepare their hearts for this upcoming gathering?
Customize your sides (topics)
Each non-believing family member and guest has their preferred topics of conversation. Some like to chat about the latest cultural trends; others love all things political; still others love to talk about the latest movies, music, books, sports, or other forms of entertainment. The secret for you to remember here is simple: God created the core components for all of these things. Because of this simple fact, there is always a way to point back to Him in the midst of these discussions. Consider a deeper look at each topic.
At the heart of culture is community. When people bring up the state of our culture, it’s rarely in a positive light, and the overarching impact of their point is broken community. We can help family see that the reason there is so little community among us is because God created us to be in community with Him first. The closer we move toward this God-created ideal, the more everyone thrives. But when trends like cancel culture take hold, the result is hurt, frustration, and chaos because it moves us all further from that ideal.
At the heart of politics is justice. When laws are abandoned; when the poor are taken advantage of; when people groups are marginalized; when freedoms are infringed upon – our sense of justice is triggered. The question is, why? We can help family see that God created us to be offended at these things because they violate His character. Any desire we have to make these things right is an acknowledgment that things are broken and need restoration; the fulness of restoration is found in God alone.
Entertainment and Sports
At the heart of entertainment is enjoyment (joy) or rest. God created us to seek both joy and rest. However, sporting events have a final whistle, movies have end credits, songs have a final note, and books have a last page. These things can all be very good things, but when we seek to find lasting joy or rest in them, we will always be disappointed. We can help family members see that true joy and true rest is found only in becoming a forever member of God’s family through Jesus.
Don’t forget the sweet dessert of your testimony
“Hey, have I ever told you about the event that changed everything in my life?”
“Even though we’ve known each other for so long, I feel like we don’t know much about each other. I’d love to hear more about your life story if you’re up for sharing.”
These are just two ways you can help transition a conversation toward your testimony (while also learning more about your family).
With the other recommendations, you’re showing that you care and you’re seeking to bring God into a popular topic to help someone see how He is behind it all. But your testimony is desert because of how special and powerful it is. It gives you the opportunity to share what life was like before you came to faith (if not at a very early age), what changed when God intervened, and what life is like as a follower of Christ.
Your family members already see how you are; your testimony gives them the chance to hear why you are this way, Who transformed you, and what decision you made to bring it all about.
Why not bring some intentionality to the table this Thanksgiving? Make a plan to put one of these tactics into practice this year. Who knows what God will do – but you can be sure of one thing; He will be glorified in your desire to make Him known.
Copyright © 2021 Brock Anderson, used with permission
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