It’s often hard to see the mission field in the midst of everyday life. But our ordinary lives—work, school, errands, running kids to music lessons, making dinner—are full of kingdom work. There’s a plentiful harvest laid out before us amid the mundane (Matt. 9:37), and God calls us to be laborers in it. However, there are times when we feel so ill-equipped for the task that we’re often a no-show.
Because of our Acts 29 church in Denver, Colorado, my husband and I have a transformed perspective on being friends, parents, neighbors, and employees. We’ve always been generally loyal, friendly, and hardworking. But now, we feel purposefully called and deeply passionate about loving and serving our neighbors, kids, and coworkers so they might know Jesus.
Our congregation invests prayer and resources in church plants worldwide and organizations throughout Denver. But also—very intentionally—our church supports its laypeople, equipping us to spread the gospel of Jesus in our spaces and vocations. My husband isn’t a pastor and I’m not a pastor’s wife. We’re laypeople in our local church who desire to see the people God’s placed in our lives know and worship him. We’re ordinary people with an extraordinary mission.
Different Time, Same Mission
It’s easy to consider our contribution toward kingdom work as less important than those on the church payroll. If we think the best way to plant the seed of the Spirit is to plant (or lead) a church, we’re mistaken. Throughout the Bible we see ordinary, uneducated, blue-collar men and women answering Jesus’s call and doing extraordinary work by the power of the Spirit.
Throughout the Bible we see ordinary, uneducated, blue-collar men and women answering Jesus’s call and doing extraordinary work by the power of the Spirit.
In Kevin DeYoung’s book, The Biggest Story, he writes, “The bumbling band of hand-picked disciples—that was curious.” Jesus could have selected Pharisees to walk alongside him in his ministry. They were already respected among the Jews and well-versed in religious texts. But he chose people with no religious, political, or socioeconomic standing to join him. He taught them to love their neighbors, serve their families, and work diligently as laborers in the harvest.
Jesus’s call to his 12 disciples is no different than the call he places on our lives today, 2000 years later. Matthew 10:1 says, “And he called to him his twelve disciples . . ..” Jesus calls us to himself first; then he sends us out to be gentle mothers and fathers, humble employees, generous employers, loving neighbors, and bold evangelists.
Ordinary and Missional
Pastors and planters aren’t special Christians; they’re faithful to the call God’s given them to use the gifts he’s provided to magnify his name. And it’s the same for all of us on the other side of the pulpit. We are full partners in disciple-making. We have relationships with people our church leaders may never meet. God positions us as witness-bearers among the lost.
So, how can ordinary people meaningfully engage in mission?
- We can bring meals to those who are suffering. We can help ease burdens and pray for healing and peace.
- We can be robust students of the Word and bold proclaimers of the good news that Christ saves sinners.
- We can go to society’s lowest. No one in Jesus’s day would touch a leper, but he did. Let us run to the downtrodden and welcome them into our homes and churches. Let us see their affliction, hear their cries, and know their suffering—as God did with Israel (Ex. 3:7).
- We can combat the lies Satan has planted in our churches, neighborhoods, homes, and workplaces with biblical truth.
- We can comfort the grieving, visit the sick, clothe the naked, and feed the hungry (Matt. 25).
- We can raise children who love the Lord and seek his ways. We can champion the cause of Christ and help others to live courageously and counterculturally.
Equipped by the Lord of the Harvest
We all share a mission with our local church body to make and teach disciples of Jesus. While we are not physically walking with Jesus as the original 12 disciples did, we have the living, active Word of God (Heb. 4:12) and the Holy Spirit. And we’ve been given churches and leaders to help equip us for the mission.
We can move out into our ordinary mission fields with courage, knowing that—in Christ—we are equipped to do the extraordinary work God asks of us.
Ready yourself for the harvest by attending worship and hearing the gospel of Jesus taught and defended. Use resources from your family and children’s ministries to take charge in the discipleship of your children, training them up in the way they should go (Prov. 22:6). Partner with the organizations your church supports and serve your community. Plant churches and support church-planting ministries.
May the church grow through the boldness of ordinary laypeople. Let us study God’s Word, learn from our pastors’ knowledge, and have confidence through the Spirit to love all we meet. We can move out into our ordinary mission fields with courage, knowing that—in Christ—we are equipped to do the extraordinary work God asks of us.