Windex (Helen, GA 2011)

One aspect of the vision of our church is to engage in missions as family units.  Monday was an early step in the process.  From 9 a.m to 12 noon spreading the gospel looked like Mary Poppins cloned herself in Helen, Ga.  We invaded the downtown merchants (3 men, 6 women, and 9 kids) armed with squeegees, Windex, and what would equate to 17 miles of paper towels.  Kids are usually the devils that ruin clean windows.  In Jesus name, we would now lead the children to redeem them.  Cleaning windows was a simple act of kindness.  The people at Georgia Mountain Resort Ministries have been doing this for years.  Through the years they have gained the trust and favor of the merchants which gives the window washers an opportunity for gospel conversation.  We were just gospel tourists.  I fully realize all we were doing was joining in a conversation that was already happening.  One that began several years ago with Windex.

This is the way the gospel spread in the days in which the New Testament was forming; person to person, business to business, tent to tent, conversation to conversation.  For some reason the last 50 years of American Christianity has come to believe that the evangelism is a mass marketed scripted reproduction of Pentecost.  What we fail to realize is that Pentecost may have been first, but it was not the precedent.  Jesus did not design the gospel to spread several thousand people at a time.  Mass/attractional evangelism is the exception not the rule.  Don’t get me wrong, I think there is a place for attractional ministry.  In places where the gospel is new, favorable and the people are curious, attractional evangelism is a no brainer.  Some people come to Christ in a crowd, but for the church to be effective in the post-Christian, post-modern context it is going to take Windex; conversations at windows, in offices, at tables, over food, during life.  Monday was a good reminder for me that we need to walk the streets, know the merchants, be a blessing and rejoin the conversation in our own city.

Monday morning we were walking amongst merchants, by the afternoon we were walking amongst meth labs.  We worked in a local trailer park.  The tenants rent by the week which makes the community very transient and unstable.  Poverty is rampant.  Drugs, abuse, hunger, and neglect are the norms.  As we were canvasing the community asking kids to come to a Bible club meeting one of our ladies asked a young girl, about 10 or 11 years old, if any kids lived in the homes on the end of the street.  The girl replied, “Yeah, there’s lots of kids down there, we all smoke weed together.”  We’re Baptist.  We don’t do weed but when it comes to Baptists and Bible clubs we are usually always jacked up on Kool-Aid and candy.  We didn’t have weed, but we did have candy.  Even pot heads like candy.  Kids love it.  When Baptists do Bible clubs there will be candy and there will be kids. 

Again, this week we are merely gospel tourists.  We are trying to join in a conversation that is already happening.  Kristy is in the conversation.  Kristy is a recovering addict who has found new life in the gospel.  Nine months ago she set up in the community center at the trailer park.  She facilitates GED, parenting classes, Celebrate Recovery, and various services aimed at helping people exodus out of poverty.  She shared with us that the first few months did not go well.  But now the people know her.  Monday afternoon her facility was full of women and children learning how to re-boot life.  She heads out in the afternoon just long enough to pick her kids up from school.  When she comes back, there are women waiting at the door for her.  Kristen is an example of what it means to be missional.  Mission trips are profitable in that they expose you to the breadth and depth of the Kingdom of Christ.  Mission trips are teaching labs, they show you how the gospel spreads in cultural contexts.  In doing so, you are reminded at what needs to happen for the gospel to spread within your context.  Mission trips are chances to help fish realize that they are in water.  Put a person in a strange new world and oddly they learn to be more effective within their own.  Ironically it is on mission trips that eventually people learn that being missional is not about going on trips, it is about engaging in conversations, working, eating, and serving with people who need Jesus.  Mission trips are reminders that your own home town is full of businesses, merchants, and pockets of poverty, but that you have failed to enter into a gospel conversation.  Go back to your bowl and start cleaning windows.   

Sometimes sharing the gospel doesn’t even begin with a Bible.  Sometimes the gospel begins with Windex.


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