Thursday, October 10, 2013

Family on Purpose {Outreach for the Introverted}

As an introverted person I struggle to find the balance between being outward focused and wanting to be a hermit. In fact, as an INTJ, the worst of the worst kind of introvert, it is a constant battle I face. But I know that I can’t use my quirky loner tendencies as an excuse to avoid people. It’s not that I don’t like people, I’m actually rather fond of them. But I just don’t want to hang out with them all the live long day. This goes for perfect strangers and even my own family. 

I am wired to need downtime. I function best with less on my plate and limited social engagements. I really wish it was different. I’m married to an extrovert, life of the party guy and sometimes this causes some conflicts. He’s always ready to go, and I’m always ready to stay. 

But I also know that God has called each one of us to be in community. I guess he could actually call some people to be a hermit, but I know he hasn’t called me to be a hermit. He wants us to be connected to others, and he also wants us to be bridge builders. He wants us to help cross the chasm between his heart and the hearts of his kids who are distant. 

Being a bridge builder propels me to go out. And that’s okay.

God has a purpose for families. In fact, I think one of the biggest reasons he places us in families is so that we can mobilize ourselves into a bigger team to accomplish the spread of the gospel. I’m talking about evangelization (we can also call it outreach) here, or more simply put: reaching out to those who don’t know Jesus yet. If we look at it in terms of families, evangelization is intentionally reaching out to the other families that God has placed around us. Our neighbors, school teachers, coworkers and casual coffee house friends need Jesus too.

In our family we are still figuring this out. Given my introverted ways, it’s a stretch that I’m working at getting better at. One thing we do right now is lead an after school Bible club at the kid’s school. We also volunteer there regularly. But we know there is more. Since we don’t have this part all the way down, here’s is what we hope to be living out really soon. 

We want to connect with neighbors over dinner or games about once a month. We will strive to be better at pulling out the lawn chairs and sitting with neighbors while the kids play outside. This is one reason we mind the margins in our lives, so that we have time and room to make these connections. And since we have done this, God has brought in some amazing opportunities that we would have missed if our schedules had been full. We do a lot of this together as a family. And we encourage our children all along the way that this is why God has placed where we are, in our neighborhood and in our local school. 

God wants us to be bridge builders. God wants us to reach out. God wants us to seek out those who are in desperate need of him. Our families are one of the best avenues he has given us to reach the lost.

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