This summer, what would happen if you, your family and your church culture shifted to where making disciples was a lifestyle?
In “How to Shift Culture with the DMC Summer Missions Initiative,” on the CDM Podcast, Paul Watson and Rebecca Ewing lay out three simple shifts we can make this summer that will allow disciple making to become a natural part of our lives.
What is the DMC Summer Missions Initiative?
Summer is right around the corner, which means there’s no better time to start planning out how to build and deepen friendships with nonbelievers during the most recreational season of the year.
With summer comes a natural change in our schedules — a disruption to the routines set by school and other seasons — that opens us up to trying new things. We want to take advantage of this change in typical rhythms to intentionally engage and change our culture, which is where the DMC Summer Missions Initiative comes in.
Essentially, the DMC Summer Missions Initiative is gathering a team of committed believers, like you would if you were going on a short-term missions trip, and then using the things you would already be doing during the summer to spend significant quality time with lost people.
We’ll talk more about what that looks like as we break down the three shifts that are going to make this effective.
Doing Life with Lost People
We tend to do everything (our recreating, educating, etc.) within Christian bubbles, alongside people who share similar culture and values. This may not be for bad reasons, but it can cut us off from natural relationships with those who don’t know Jesus.
The first shift the DMC Summer Missions Initiative will help us make is to do life with lost people by enjoying the things we already love doing in the summertime, or things we’ve always wanted to try, and doing them out in the broader community.
For instance, instead of forming a special, Christian softball team to go out and play with other softball teams in the community, we can join a softball team that we know will have people who don’t know Jesus. Instead of just forming a book club with only fellow believers, we could join a book club at the local library or in our neighborhood where there will be nonbelievers from the community.
The idea is that we’re taking a lot of our hobbies, recreations and interests, and we’re using them to spend significant time with lost people each week, both in the broader community and in personal connection time.
We’ll also be doing some community investment projects — things that you’ve always wanted to see happen in your neighborhoods and cities. Instead of just partnering up with other Christians to serve the community by picking up trash, feeding the homeless or cleaning graffiti, also partner with nonbelievers!
We can even be on the lookout for good programs run by non-Christians that we can be a part of, which will give us a lot of time to be around and build relationships with people who may be kind-hearted and caring, but don’t know Jesus.
Something that has held Christians back in knowing how to talk to people about Jesus is that we just don’t have that many meaningful relationships with them. This first shift is going to help us with that in a number of ways!
We won’t have to worry that developing friendships with nonbelievers will be awkward or unnatural because we’ll be in casual settings, enjoying things we would already be doing in the summertime!
We and our fellow believers will have a testing ground to know what it feels like to make a lifestyle of spending significant time with lost people and will see it’s not so scary.
It’s not so compartmentalized from family and life’s enjoyments either. We can enjoy life with our families and make disciples at the same time!
For parents who want to disciple their children, one of the best ways to show them how to live out the Great Commission is to model, and include them in, the activities we do to get to know nonbelievers. They’ll see that living the life of a Christian doesn’t have to be a mere going into the four walls of a church on Sunday and then coming home. It’s now a part of our daily lives!
Doing Life with Other Christians
The pandemic has shown us how, even though we may spend time occupying the same room with other believers on Sundays, we aren’t really getting to know one another deeply. The second shift we need to make is to spend more time doing life and mission with other Christians outside of the four walls of the church.
A big part of the DMC Summer Missions Initiative is instilling the habit of spending a significant amount of time together, once a week, brainstorming engagement ideas and enjoying fellowship together.
Our summer missions teams will be an invaluable tool, not only in encouraging, strengthening and exhorting us to engage nonbelievers, but also coming alongside us so we can engage together! If you’re going to join lost people on that softball team, book club, cooking class or camping trip, you can see if some other folks from your summer missions team would like to join you in that.
Whether we’re doing community projects, enjoying hobbies or spending time on family outings, we can pair up with the families in our summer missions team and do these things together alongside nonbelievers.
Now we aren’t just checking a box, hearing a sermon and then leaving. We’re taking the time to enjoy life together. The book of Acts talks about how believers were breaking bread together daily and enjoying fellowship. This is an opportunity to get back to those kinds of meaningful, weekly interactions with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
If you’ve ever been at your church and thought, “These are really nice people, but I don’t hang out with them outside of the Sunday morning service,” and you hunger for a deep community, then the summer missions project is going to help you begin to lean in and develop that community with people.
After all, community is a fruit, not a focus.
“If you focus solely on developing community, you won’t necessarily get good community. However, if you focus on doing the things that result in community, then good community emerges. Pursuing a common mission together unites people and develops community like few things can.”
Being on the summer missions journey with other believers, doing fun things and coming back to reflect, share and celebrate, creates the rhythms that result in community. Furthermore, the community you develop this summer can propel you forward and be a foundation you build on for the rest of your life!
Celebrating with Our Church Family
The third shift is to celebrate, with our church body, the specific and concrete ways God has been moving in our community engagements and disciple making.
For 8 weeks in the summer, this could look like setting aside a few minutes during the worship portion of our services to share stories with our congregation of what God is doing, pray together for continued work, and then worship together.
This will be so invigorating because worship can often feel so empty to a lot of people.
Most folks blame it on the band, or the style of music, but the truth is that worship is empty because we are. We keep coming to the altar with no fruits of obedience to lay down before our King.
When we go out, obey the Great Commission with our friends and family, and then come back into our churches, our good works are going to spur others on as they see that they can do this too. Not only are we inspiring others to obey, but we get to personally offer our obedience on the altar before God in worship. Now our prayers and our worship as a church body are a focused overflow of the heart, not merely a rote box to check.
We are bringing our whole church on this journey of celebration, prayer and worship, and connecting them more with the Great Commission by not only showing them what it looks like to make disciples, but also inspiring them to take part because it’s so doable.
Summer is nearly upon us and, even if you can’t do the full initiative, learning how to do some of these simple habit shifts can really change you, your family and the culture around you.
By the end, we’re not going to want to return to life how it was. We’re going to want to press on and make this a lifestyle because we’ll see God work and will be more connected to Him, those who don’t know Him, and the body of Christ.
Just by these three simple shifts — spending recreational time to be around nonbelievers, doing life in a deeper way alongside other Christians, and celebrating in our churches how God is moving — we can see our cultures change!
Thanks for reading! If you found this blog helpful and would like a more detailed look at using this summer to engage the lost, be sure to check out the “How to Shift Culture with the DMC Summer Missions Initiative” podcast here or on the CDM App under podcasts!
If you would like to learn more about how to do the DMC Summer Missions Initiative this year, you can email email@example.com and stay tuned for more information and resources to follow!