One of the first steps in starting something new is identifying the places and people groups you most often intersect with, and praying for God to show you where the “windows of opportunity” are. One of the quickest and most potent ways to do this is to write your name in the middle of a blank piece of paper, and then draw several circles around your name, each with a place or people group that you are relationally connected to. Next, you can write the names of individual people around each place so that you begin to see your relational networks.
Once you’ve mapped out your networks, you can ask some questions like,
- Who have I already had spiritual conversations with? What might be a good next step for each person to continue their faith journey?
- Who seems to be influential in these groups? How am I connected to them? What is their level of openness / interest in Jesus?
- What other missional Christians do I know in these groups? How can we partner to become a redeeming presence?
- What signs do I see that God is already moving in these places / people groups? How can I cooperate with what the Spirit is doing?
Tori wasn’t planning on playing on the college volleyball team, but when the women’s coach asked her to try-out, she decided it couldn’t hurt. She ended up making the team, and eventually became one of the captains. She was open about being a Christian, and over time had a few brief conversations with teammates as it naturally came up.
Tori realized that the volleyball team had become an important missional space for her. It was the part of her relational network where she was able to regularly interact with friends who don’t yet know Jesus as Lord. As she built relationships on the team, she was able to represent Jesus in very tangible ways.
The Day God Rode the Bus
Recently, Tori was sitting in the back of the team bus as they rode south for an away game. As they passed by a local church, one of the teammates asked, “Hey, isn’t that where you go to church?” Tori belonged to a church that was known in the city for its “revival culture”, and for sending young people to pray, share and serve in the community. Some curious students asked her if she ever hears God’s voice.
For the rest of the 1¼ hr drive, the team surrounded her in the back of the bus, some even sitting in the aisle so they could catch every word she said—the look in their eyes revealed their spiritual hunger. One girl opened up and confessed that she’d been a Christian since childhood but had, “Gone away from God.” Another asked, “How can I hear God like you do?” Tori prayed that God would speak through her to the team and it seemed the words and visions from God poured into her mind and out of her mouth. Four girls were touched so deeply they were crying and unveiling their deeper secrets. Teammates were saying, “I feel so much lighter, so good and peaceful.” Tori explained, “That’s God’s presence. He wants you to know he loves you.”
When they pulled up to the gym to get ready for their game, the team was reluctant to leave this sacred moment saying, “Do we have to go play? We just want to keep talking about God!” Tori reassured them that they could talk about God again later, and they went to warm up. Before the game, one of the girls asked Tori, “Can we pray before our game?” and then said, “Let’s hold hands!” For the first time, Tori led her team in prayer.
Expanding to other Networks
Tori knows other Christian athletes on campus. She made a point to share her bus story with them, and they said, “We want to see that happen on our teams too”. They’ve begun to pray for a spiritual awakening on the soccer, track & field, baseball and swim teams. Each member of their team has realized they’ve been placed in their teams to share and demonstrate the good news.
Take some time to chart your relational networks. Use it to pray for people in your life and think about the signs you’ve seen that God is stirring something up in their lives. Keep your chart so you can come back to it often and add more names and networks over time. And remember—you don’t have to create your network chart by yourself. The picture of the network above is a poster that two juniors from the University of Anchorage, Alaska created when they started thinking about launching a ministry there.
Where has God Planted You? Share with us!