Is there an extra chair at your table for me?

Do you have an extra chair at your table?
I could use one.
There are a lot of people that could use one.
They are waiting for an invite from you, especially at Christmas time.

And yet, so many circles are closed.
So many tables are closed.

Would you open your table?
Is there an extra chair at your table?

One of my favourite stories in the Bible is about Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9).
I invite you to try and imagine what Mephibosheth felt like, because I’m guessing you’ve been there a time or two. I know I have.
Mephibosheth felt
unworthy,
not good enough.
Mephibosheth figured others thought of him as “good for nothing.”
He was from, quite literally, no place (Lo Debar). 30 km beyond the middle of nowhere. (I know some of us Atlantic Canadians can relate to that!)
He was left out of temple (a.k.a. – church) activities because he wasn’t consider good enough (he was consider “unclean” by the religious institution).
He was scraping his own life by, it was ok, but it was not easy.
His name literally means dispeller of shame. You could smell his shame a mile away. He knew, just knew, he didn’t fit with others.
He refers to himself as a “dead dog”, that is a stray dog, left out in the tough world to fend for himself he figured he was as good as dead.

And Mephibosheth certainly didn’t feel welcome at your table and mine.
He most certainly didn’t feel welcome at a King’s table.

You ever feel like that?
Not welcome.
Not wanted.
Not quite good enough or cool enough or “something” enough.
Not quite like the others.
No room for you at the table.
Remember that feeling?
I do.
That’s Mephibosheth.

And yes, let your mind go to the refugee, the stranger, the poor, the person of a different religion then you, the person of a different race then you (this list could go on) and how they may feel that there is no room at the table for them.
That too is Mephibosheth.

And yet, another character is in the story, King David. And King David chooses to invite, welcome and fully embrace Mephibosheth to his table and into his family. Mephibosheth – crutches and all, shame and all, loneliness and all, insecurities and all – is invited to the King’s table!

That’s powerful.
To go from feeling not wanted, unwelcome, a nuisance, a bother…
To being embraced at the King’s table.

Nice!
I want that.
I want others to experience that.
I want others to experience that through me. Too often I’ve given off a different vibe of “not welcome”, “not one of my kind.” Too often church circles give off this vibe – “you are not one of us.”
What made it so seemingly easy for David to extend such deep hospitality?

I have a hunch about David. A hunch that David so freely gave this kind of welcome to Mephibosheth because David had tasted this kind of welcome from the Lord.

See this same David had written down in poetry “You (God) prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” (Psalm 23:5)
David had experienced what it is like to be welcomed to God’s table.

“You (God) prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies”
It was a place of safety.
In the ancient world, if you were enjoying hospitality at someone’s table it was like yelling “home free.” While you were enjoying hospitality at someone’s table the tax collector couldn’t come after you, your enemy couldn’t come and lay a hand on you, that person to whom you owed a debt couldn’t come and bug you about it, you were home free. You were safe. Safe to enjoy the company around you. Safe to be real. Safe to express your struggles and worries and know that no one would come after you or criticize you. David had experienced this from the Lord. In the Lord’s presence we are safe. Safe to be real.

“You anoint my head oil”
Oil throughout Scripture is a symbol of God’s presence, His setting aside someone for something special. God has something special for you. Oil is also seen as a symbol of joy, overwhelming joy. God is overjoyed you are at His table. He takes delight in you, delights in you sharing your heart and shares His heart with you. David had experienced this joy from the Lord. In the Lord’s presence there is joy and delight.

“My cup overflows”
Another tradition from the ancient world was around the cups on the table. If your host stopped filling up your cup it was their way of signalling to you that it was time to skedaddle, you’d out-stayed your welcome. However, if your host kept filling up your cup, it was their way of saying to you, “You are welcome to stay longer. Please stay longer, I am so enjoying your company.” And well, if the host filled your cup to overflowing that was a whole other story, stating “Please stay forever! I will keep providing for you. I am so enjoying your company.” David had experienced this from the Lord, a welcome that does not go away. In the Lord’s presence we are welcome to stay forever.

David had tasted what it’s like to be at God’s table, a place of safety, joy and a welcome that doesn’t go away.
And what does David do?
He turns around and gives this same safety, joy and welcome to others.
He wants others to taste what it is like to experience God’s presence through him.
He wants others to taste what it is like at God’s table through his table.

How about you? Will you let others get a taste of God’s safety, God’s joy, God’s welcome through your tables? God is using ordinary kitchen tables, picnic tables, Tim Horton’s tables, caf tables, and circles all over to welcome people to His table.

I’m not talking about inviting people into your circle so you can preach to them.
I’m not talking about inviting people into your circle so you can “give them the Gospel.”
I’m not talking about inviting people into your circle so you can “set them right.”
I am talking about inviting people into your circle to give them safety, joy and a deep welcome. Trusting God for what He’ll do with your table.
I am talking about inviting people into your circle to get to know them.
I am talking about, trusting Christ is living in you and through you, get into some new circles.
I am talking about getting to know and value people, especially those who have been outside your circle.

Create a table of safety, joy and a deep welcome.

How? Simply create safety, joy and welcome in your circles.
Safety – listen non-judgmentally
Joy – delight in who the person is today, not who you think they should be or could be
Welcome – intentionally set aside time to linger. Lay aside other things to give your attention to those around the table, linger around the table, linger in the conversations, linger in the storytelling, linger in asking deeper questions, linger.

Is there an empty chair at your table for Mephibosheth?
Is there an empty chair for those that are feeling like stray dogs in our world today?
Is there an empty chair for those who are getting treated like stray dogs?
Is there an empty chair at your table for me?

Let me push this a little further.
Why is your table closed? Sit with this question for a while. Examine the excuses that come into your head. How can your excuses/reasons be overcome? What fear do you have? If you say your table is not closed – are you sure? How often do you learn from others that are different than you? Where are you building genuine friendships outside those that are “like you”?

What’s one step you could take this season to open up your circle a little more? Not as a drive-by task to fulfill on your list, but as a genuine extending of a welcome.

Here are a few idea:

1. Invite to your table: Refugees, the financial struggling, a young adult, neighbours, someone that does not have family nearby, a single person, a Senior, someone that struggles with illness (physical or mental), someone that struggles with addiction, someone that seems to have it all together but could use a genuine friend, someone new…

2. Go to a soup kitchen, to sit around the tables and hear stories and share stories, to genuinely get to know people.

3. If you’re a regular somewhere, get to know another person or two there. Maybe you’re a regular at a coffee shop, the hockey rink, the gym, a church, a lunchroom, a gas station…

4. Buy a refugee or newcomer to your community a bus pass and travel with them to help them get to know their regular routes.

5. Share and donate clothes, furniture, toys and time and get to know those working where you offer these items.

6. Give to those supporting the arriving refugees. Take time to understand the situation refugees are facing. Listen to their stories.

7. Reopen your small group/Bible Study/LifeGroup or Youth Group for new people to join. Specifically invite someone to join you.

I’m sure you’ve got many more ideas. Please share.
Who needs a welcome at our tables?
How do we welcome them?
Add your ideas to the comments.

May our tables be places where people taste the Lord’s safety, joy and deep welcome.
May God use our tables to transform our neighbourhoods.

-Renée @r_embree

Advertisements

What is the leader to do during a mission trip?

When you are the leader for a short term mission trip, what do you do during the actual trip?
Mission tour weeks are my favorite week with students. All the hard work of training, organizing and fundraising is done and now we get to fully immerse ourselves in the experience and go with it.
However, sometimes when I actually get on the trip with the students I get a little unsure of what my role exactly is now? I’m not one of the students, but I am a participant on this trip and I am the team leader – so what does that look like? I’ve seen other leaders struggle with this too on STMs – some I’ve seen putting their own feet up, others I’ve seen standing on the sidelines yelling orders or others I can’t tell if they are one of the students or a leader.
There can be this tension between being the leader but also being a guest and participant.

This one is a little hard to figure out and may look a little different depending on the context of your trip, but here’s some advice on walking this tension.
Advice for leaders on a mission tour:

1. Be an encouraging machine – you are the biggest cheerleader of both the locals and your own students during the STM. Notice what they are doing well, notice where they are stepping up, notice where God is at work and encourage, encourage, encourage. Pray for people, especially as they take on new tasks or share their joys/challenges in their local context and in this experience. Keep your home church connected and encouraged by what’s happening too.

2. Equip and empower others – give away opportunities to lead and serve to students and locals. This doesn’t mean you do nothing, but you come alongside them to help them go further. It’s so exciting to watch others step-up and be stretched to try new things.

3. Learn from other leaders and their context – this is a great opportunity for you to build friendships with other leaders and learn from them. Figure out where you are facing similar challenges and opportunities, talk about resources and talk about where God is at work. Build relationships with partners near and far.

4. Serve too – get your hands dirty. Pitch in with the team wherever you can. Take the nature of a servant.

5. Ask great questions – invite the students and others around you into deeper conversation and reflection with great questions. Help others recognize what God is revealing to them and teaching them. Help others see the roots of what is happening where you are, not just the symptoms or Band-Aid solutions.

6. Set the example – model what it looks like to have attitude of humility, learning, service, dedication and graciousness. Model what it looks like to keep close to Jesus during the week. Model how to react when difficulties come-up. Model a spirit of curiosity and not judgment.

7. Lead a debrief – make sure you take time for the team to debrief together. Give them time to reflect and articulate what they learned during this experience, what God seemed to be highlighting, what they need to apply back home, what gifts they saw in each teammate etc.

Have an amazing time of seeing and experiencing God’s work in our world! We love to hear your stories from STMs this year.

-Renée @r_embree

Involve the whole church in a short term mission experience

A lot of groups are headed out on short term mission experiences locally or globally this summer.
When these trips are done well I believe they can be significant in moving people towards missional living. These experiences can become more than a great trip and more than a memory for both those travelling and those being visited.
One key way to help this happen is connecting short term mission experiences to the whole church family.

Here are a few ideas on how to involve the whole church when you are sending out a short term mission team:

1. Get the church praying
a. Give a prayer prompter that goes around to different groups in your church (Sunday School classes, small groups, Senior’s groups etc) to pray for the team. One year when we were sending a team to Newfoundland we found a stuffed moose and put a lanyard around his neck with the team members’ names on it. That moose made his way through every group in the church.
b. Create prayer cards, like baseball team cards, of the whole team or each individual team member with prayer requests
c. Share the team schedule with daily prayer requests
d. Commission the team, to empower and release them on your behalf as they build this partnership on this trip
e. During the trip give short prayer updates via email or social media

2. Share, share, share
a. While on the trip find ways to stay connected with your church – skype, share pictures, use social media appropriately… (NOTE – at the same time, don’t use this as an excuse to hide behind your phone. You’ve got to be fully engaged where you are! These updates could be one person’s responsibility instead of every ones responsibility.)
b. When you return make sure the team has lots of opportunities to share stories and learnings or even share a new song, skit or skill they learned.
c. When the team returns invite the team to share their learnings that could be helpful in your context to the appropriate committees or leadership teams. I remember when a group of teens came back from a trip from Toronto and had excellent learnings for our community outreach board. Value their input and learnings!

3. Involve the whole church in the preparation
a. Have the church family create devotionals or letter for the team to read each day of their trip (Tidal Impact has created devos here.)
b. Have the church give supplies and financial support to the team, make sure they understand where this support is going and the realistic difference it will make.
c. Training – invite people to help in training the team. Who from your church family could help the team learn about being a team, travelling as a learner, being a servant, experiencing other cultures, the context you’ll be walking into…

4. Mentors
a. Pair up each team member with a mentor from the church who can pray for them before they go and debrief with them when they return.
b. Pair up each team member with a child in the church. The child is invited to pray for the team member before they go and while they are away. Be sure to thank the child after!

5. Continue the partnership
a. Is there ways the visiting team and the host team can continue to learn from each other and share resources? Who from your church could be the liaison for this? Form a team that looks at continuing the partnership.

We’d be thrilled if your churches would support Tidal Impact teams in this way!
Very shortly I’ll be part of a short term mission experience called Tidal Impact, where youth groups from all over Atlantic Canada will be joining forces in Saint John and Moncton to change lives and neighbourhoods. We are at 815 participants and still growing. I’m so excited these Tidal Impact Teams will be connected to local churches as they serve. Local churches are the mission hub in neighbourhoods – dispensing hope, healing, help, and grace.

What are your ideas to involve the whole church in a short term mission experience? Please leave your ideas in the comments.

-Renée @r_embree

Start Here – 5 reasons you need to be involved in local mission

We’ve been using one question to challenge leaders, youth groups, camps and churches.
That question is: will you join God in changing Atlantic Canada one neighbourhood at a time?
If you don’t live in Atlantic Canada, it still works – how are you joining God in changing your neighbourhood?
We truly believe God is at work all around you. We truly believe God wants you to join Him in His work around you in the neighbourhoods where you go to youth group, go to church, go to work, go to study, go to shop and go to play.
We believe churches and the people that overflow from them are to be hubs of God’s activity in neighbourhoods and communities.

Here are just a few stories I’ve heard in the last two weeks of how people are taking up this challenge:
• A Mom told me how she heard other Mom’s talking about how they wished there was a soccer night for their preschoolers. This Mom thought, “I could do that!” And realized it was an opportunity to be an answer to her prayer to be good news to her neighbourhood and get to know her neighbourhood better.
• A church with a school just across the street from them decided to approach the school and see if they’d let them throw a “School’s Out Party” for all the students and staff on the last day of school. The school was thrilled. So the church partnered with a camp to offer all kinds of fun activities and snacks. In the process they built all kinds of connections and creditability with the school and community.
• A group of high school students told me over this last semester some of their friends, who don’t know much about Christianity, started asking them questions about Jesus and the Bible. So they asked them if they wanted to start meeting once a week, during lunch hour at school, to explore Christianity together. That’s exactly what they’ve been doing!
• A number of groups are finding creative ways to be involved in Tidal Impact. Tidal Impact is a local mission trip where youth groups will be joining forces for the week of July 11 to 18 to impact the cities of Saint John and Moncton with the goodness and good news of Jesus. One creative ministry I’ve heard will be happening is an outdoor mission to bless those struggling in their neighbourhood. Through partnerships they already have this group will be setting up services outside in a low income, struggling part of the city. Together they will prepare food, providing foot care, offer a blood pressure clinic, invite a hair school to offer haircuts, invite a dental school to come, offer a prayer station and simply seeking to be God’s presence to those they meet.

I love hearing these stories! God is changing neighbourhoods in Atlantic Canada! God is living and active here. God is inviting us to be a part of what He is doing in changing Atlantic Canada one neighbourhood at a time.

I am a very firm believer that we need to be involved in local mission.
We are missionaries here and now.
Individual Christians, leaders, youth groups, children’s ministries, camps, churches need to be involved in local mission.

Here are 5 reasons I’m such a firm believer that we need to be involved in local mission:

1. Authentic – Those around us have a right to be skeptical if we talk about our faith, or come and go from the church, but there is little evidence our faith is impacting our lives and world. People, inside and outside the church, need to see Christianity is more than being at youth group for two hours a week or being at church for an hour on Sunday. Christianity, from its very beginning, has been a movement. It is a movement that cannot be contain in walls, it is a movement happening all over the world, as people join God in changing hearts and communities. Christianity is a movement of joining God in renewing all things – of allowing God to renew my heart, my life, but also joining God in renewing others’ lives, communities, churches, camps and systems. This generation of young people in particular long to see a faith that is making a significant difference in the world. It’s got to be more than talk, more than a club and more than an institution.

2. Makes us students of our context and cultural – as we seek to become local missionaries, it invites us to ask all the best missionary questions. Questions like: Where is God already at work in my community? If I were planted here as a new missionary – where would I go, who would I talk to, to learn about the local culture? What are the values of this culture? What do people care about here? Where do people naturally gather? Where can I/we build connections and friendships? What skills and gifts do I/we have to offer this community? Who can I invite to help me? What do I still need to learn about this culture? Who is an insider and friend who can help me as I get to know this particular community? Where do I already have connections and relationships that God wants to use? The best missionaries are learners. Engaging in local mission makes me a better learner and a better student of my culture.

3. We are the best missionaries for our context – you are the locals. You really do know your community best, better than anyone who drops in from the outside. As Mother Teresa (Founder of the Missionaries of Charity) says “Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering, and the lonely right there where you are – in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools. You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society – completely forgotten, completely left alone.”
God uses His people as His missionaries in the places where they already live, work, study and play.

4. Training – engaging in local mission is one of the best training and discipleship tools. As we and our community step out to connect with our community and be the words, hands and feet of Jesus, we stretch our own faith. It wakes up your faith! Rather than it just being a passive faith – where it is mostly about listening to sermons, reading devotionals, it invites you to an active faith, to join God’s work all around you. Stepping out into our community stirs up more questions, reveals our rough edges and challenges us in new ways. Plus, local mission is the best training for global mission. Until we show our missionary heart here, I don’t think we should be trusted to show it in another context. This is where God has planted you and your Christian community, this is where He is at work around you. This is where you are needed. When we join God in more global partnerships, our involvement in local mission has prepared us to better understand how to approach such a global partnership. Hopefully we’ve learned humility, the importance of partnership and gained an understanding that the locals are the ones who really know best how to minister in their context and they are the ones who will continue on in the relationships in their neighbourhood after we are gone.

5. Shows us God’s at work here and now – Unfortunately some folks have gotten the impression from churches and Christians that God only works in other places far away or that God only worked a long time ago. When we join God in what He is doing to change lives and neighbours we start seeing how God is working here and now. We start helping each other to spot God’s activity – places of need where we can join in, places where we see His goodness breaking through and we can join, opportunities to show and tell the Gospel, places where God is still at work inside me… Engaging in local mission shows our faith is living and active today. Our God is living and active today!

If you want to explore this more, here are some resource suggestions…

  • “Neighborhood Mapping – How to Make Your Church Invaluable to the Community” By Dr. John Fuder
  • “When Helping Hurts – How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourself” By Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert
  • “Deep Justice In a Broken World” By Chap Clark & Kara E. Powell
  • “Deep Justice Journeys – Moving from Mission Trips to Misisonal Living” – Leader’s Guide & Student Journal By Kara E. Powell and Brad M. Griffin
  • “Missional Youth Ministry – Moving from Gathering Teenagers to Scattering Disciples” By Brian Kirk & Jacob Thorne

Plus, I’d recommend you:

We are excited watching what’s happening as people say yes to joining God in changing Atlantic Canada one neighbourhood at a time. We truly believe we are going to see neighborhoods change as we join in God’s mission here and now.

Comments, stories, and questions are welcomed!

-Renée @r_embree

Why leaders should travel

I tend to be a skeptic when it comes to ministry trips. Most of it stems from being frugal and having a hard time justifying the money it takes to travel and wondering if that money could be better spent in other ways to serve God’s Kingdom. I love to travel, but am very hesitant to spend money to go and tend to keep my money in my pockets when I’m there. Yes, sorry friends, this is my way of telling you I didn’t bring back any souvenirs or chocolate.

I’ve just arrived back from a ministry trip where 10 Canadian students joined 15 European students for a course and then we spread out to visit some of the European students’ home ministries. It helped me gain a fresh perspective. So I thought I’d write this blog to remind myself and others the value in exposing ourselves and other leaders in our midst to different ministries, whether they are across our city, across our Nation or across our world.

Four reasons leaders should travel and visit other ministries…

1. Trips expose you to what is possible
When we see someone else doing something, it is easier to say “I could do that”. It forces you to wrestle through what is working in the context you are observing and how it could (or could not) apply in your context. The big thing I saw on this trip was how the European leaders did so much with so little. Often our response to new innovations is that it is going to take money and staff. Yet I saw European leaders who somehow found ways to start new youth ministries, start church plants, start a school etc… without any money or staff upfront. I also saw our Canadian students trying new ministry ideas on the trip that they may not have the courage to try yet back home in front of everyone they know and who knows them. For example they tried dance, new ways of leading communion, new ways of hearing from God, pushed their physical limits and were vulnerable in sharing more of their journey with God. Where are you trying to break through? Who could you visit to show you what is possible?

2. Trips remind you of the community we have all over the world
Even though we spoke different languages, came from varying background and different communities the commonalities in Christ and Christian leadership were staggering. The understanding we had for each other and support of each other as brothers and sisters in Christ was such an encouragement. Furthermore, travelling and living together with a group of others for two weeks teaches you a lot about community! We saw each other at our best and at our worst, it doesn’t matter if you are the “leader”. I had to confess my selfishness to the group more than once (e.g. when I wanted to get to the top of the mountain on our hike) as we figured out how to live, work, play and eat together as a group. You learn so much about yourself and others in this close community. Who can be your encouragers and partners in ministry? Who do you need to go on a trip with?

3. Trips reveal we have the same Gospel, but use different methods
The ministries that were flourishing the most in the places we visited were not the ones who had copied some cookie-cutter North American approach. The flourishing ministries were the ones with thoughtful, indigenous leaders who had found a way to be relevant in their neighbourhood, to the people right around them in their town or city. Sound leadership principals were the same across cultures, but methods were very different. The Gospel is the same, but how we show and tell that Gospel in ways that are relevant to our neighbourhoods are very different. Seeing how different leaders figured out how to best show and tell the Gospel in their context invited me to rethink how I best show and tell the Gospel in my context. What new method do you need to see in action? or do you need to try?

4. Trips can give you a fresh perspective
Taking a step away from your usual ministry and routine can help you get a balcony view of your own ministry. As you see new ministries and come back to your ministry it helps you to see it with fresh eyes. It is so easy to become focused just on our own ministry, church or camp. We have a big God, who is at work all over the places. May our eyes be open to see where God is at work all around us. I found that even Scripture can have a new freshness in new places. Whether I always realize it or not my Bible reading and interpretation is steeped in my culture. Reading passages about the freedom we have in Christ took on a whole new meaning as I read them standing in a city that used to be under occupation and heard the stories of Christians from a different era and culture. I carry that fresh perspective back with me to my life and context. Where can you go to gain a fresh perspective?

These are just a few thoughts on the value of travelling to visit different ministries, if we take the attitude of a learner as we go.
Your travel doesn’t need to be across an ocean or a national board, it can be across your city, to a different town, to a different province or just down the road.
Where can you go to learn? Where can you go to get a fresh perspective? Where can you take your team to build community and get a fresh perspective?

Why are ministry learning trips valuable to you?

May God open our eyes to what He is doing beyond our own ministry. And may God help you apply what He shows you, when you return to your circle.

If you are looking for such an opportunity for students check-out Tidal Impact happening this summer and Kamp Tumaini where we will be taking a team of students in 2017.

-Renée @r_embree

5 Ways to Lead a Terrible Mission Trip

mission-trips

Disclaimer: Short-term mission trips have been a key part of my spiritual journey. I have had the opportunity to participate as a teen and as an adult and have made them a key part of my ministry strategy at Grand Bay Baptist Church. I have been part of or led over 20 trips and I truly believe that they are incredible discipleship opportunities and well worth the time and financial investment. Tidal Impact is one of my favourites!  With that in mind, I thought I would offer these “tips” on how to lead a terrible mission trip. Just in case you’re not the best at sarcasm, these are not real pieces of advice… read them, laugh at the exaggeration and then seriously look at your mission trip strategy and see if there isn’t some truth in here… I know there is for me.  

  1. Don’t bother meeting regularly as a team before it’s time to go. I mean really… what is this going to accomplish? As if your evenings aren’t all booked up already with those committee meetings… am I right? Good news… this is one less thing for you to worry about. Just pull the team together at the last minute and everything will be ok. There is no need to take time for regular team-building, training, and biblical and theological reflection. Trust me.
  2. Focus on the Practical Training. If you insist (or are forced by your board) to get the team together before hand make sure you focus completely on the skills that your team is going to need while they away. Prepare that skit, children’s program, or maintenance skill and make sure it stops there. There is no need to spend time as a team looking at passages like Luke 4, Matthew 5, or Ephesians 2:8-10. And do not, I repeat do not, take time to pray together. You have more important things to get done before you leave right?
  3. Make Sure the Focus is on Doing and not on Learning. While you are away make sure that you get everything done that you planned on accomplishing. Prioritize this over everything else. Don’t bother wasting time each evening debriefing with your team and asking team members where they saw God at work or what He is teaching them. Instead, use that valuable time to paint that wall or build that thing. Remember, it is about doing, not about learning or discipleship.
  4. Remember that you know more than the people you are going to “serve.” Therefore, there is no reason to take time to learn about the context and culture that you are going to serve in or listen to their thoughts on how something should be done. Remember, you know best. Take charge and get it done. If this means that you have to be a jerk and hurt peoples’ feelings, so be it.
  5. When it is over, it is over. Ahhhh… the trip is done and now you don’t need to look at those smelly little pests again! You’ve done it! Whatever you do, don’t get them back together after you get home to debrief about what they’ve learned or experienced (If you’ve listened to my other advice this wont be much anyway). And most importantly, do not reflect with them on how to apply what they’ve learned to their own context and how to live missionally in their own neighbourhoods. The trip is over… your work is done. Now forget all about it and get back to life as usual.

– Adrian (@AdrianDGardner)

25 before 25

25 missional experiences everyone should have before they are 25 years old

*If you try any of these out let us know on twitter #1neighbourhood

By the time you are 5 years old:
1. Know the names and interests of your neighbours.
2. Choose 3 to 5 of your books to give away to someone.
3. Bake cookies (with adult help) to give to someone who could use a cheer up, visit with them and share the cookies.
4. Play with children from different cultures and try food from different cultures.
5. Visit a nursing home and give out hugs or homemade drawings.

By the time you are 10 years old
6. Go through your closet and give away clothing in good condition to someone that would like or use them.
7. On garbage day in your neighbourhood, pull everyones garbage cans/compost bins back to their houses.
8. Have a lemonade stand outside your house to get to know your neighbours, give the money you raise to a church or charity of your choice.
9. Participate in a food or clothing driving for a local food bank or shelter. Visit the food band or shelter and get to know a few folks.
10. Take a handful of quarters and a roll of tape and stick the quarters on gumball machines all over town. You will make a child’s day!

By the time you are 15 years old
11. Show intentional kindness to your school and teachers. E.g. When your school has a Parent-Teacher conference night, rally fellow students & families to provide a great meal for the staff to enjoy in their breaks. Serve and clean up!
12. Apologize to someone you treated poorly in middle school.
13. Experience being on mission for a week somewhere in your home region! More and more churches and camps are having Service Camps. Our favourite happens to be: www.tidalimpact.ca
14. Volunteer at a meal being served for the homeless or under-resourced – serve food, cleanup, visit with people.
15. Take extra school supplies with you to school and generously share them with your fellow students.

By the time you are 20 years old
16. Take an opportunity to explain your faith in Jesus to a friend at work, school or on a team.
17. Give a gift from the CBM Hopeful Gifts for Change Catalogue: https://secure2.convio.net/cbmin/site/SPageServer/?pagename=Gift_Catalogue_Home.html
18. Buy baby supplies (diapers, wipes, formula…) and take them to a Pregnancy Resource Centre. While you are there learn about the place, what they offer and who works there.
19. Find a need and meet it. Spot the needs on social media or around you – is someone sick? Take a meal. Someone have a flooded basement? Go & help and take a care package. Someone raking their leaves? Pick up a rake.
20. Experience an international mission trip (Opportunities can be found here http://cbmin.org/get-involved/short-term-mission/ or with the Springforth Team that will be put together to go to Kamp Tumaini in 2017!!!

By the time you are 25 years old
21. Cook a meal (or order pizza) for your neighbours and have them in.
22. Volunteer or contribute financially, regularly, somewhere locally (your community) and globally.
23. Sit with the dying.
24. Eat your lunch with others at your work or school and get to know their story. Bring a treat, now and then, to share during lunch.
25. Lead something missional. Rally your friends, a group of youth, a small group or a church around meeting a need in your community or world.

  •  If you are older than 25 (don’t worry, we won’t ask your age) it is never too late to go back and experience these things, and move towards making missional living a part of your everyday life and being.

Send us your ideas for tweaking this list and for new lists to come, by leaving comments on the blog or tweet @r_embree or #1neighbourhood. This list was created with the help of Andrew Glidden (@PastorWolf), Louise Knowles, Adrian Gardner (@AdrianDGardner) & Jacqueline Derrah.

*If you try any of these out let us know on twitter #1neighbourhood