In my last post I talked about how individually we are all called, in numerous, simple, accessible ways to reach out to a world in need, to the people around us- our natural networks.
Here is a simple way of embedding a practice into our everyday lives that will revolutionise the way we are used by God on a day-to-day basis.
It’s called ACORN.
ACORN is an acrostic to help us remember each step of the practice.
A is for ASK
C is for CALL
O is for OBEY
R is for REPORT
N is for NOTICE
The first step is simple to ASK God to put someone on your heart or into your mind, that he would want you to reach out to. A simple prayer will do. “Dear God, is there anyone you want me to connect with, reach out to, or call who needs you at this time?”
Having ASKED you simply wait for God’s CALL – a name that comes to you mind, a person you are reminded of.
Knowing, or believing that it is God who called you to reach out to this person, that it is none other than the creator of the universe, the one who knows everything abut everyone, we ought to feel confident of the call and follow through with simple OBEDIENCE.
Obeying God’s call need not be scary, strange, or weird. Rather it ought to be ordinary, easy and accessible. It means ordinary things like giving people a call and saying something like, “Hi! You’ve been on my mind. How are you?” Or it might mean messaging them with something like this, “Hi! You’ve been on my mind today. I’d love to meet up or chat. When’s good for you?”
The exciting thing is that as we start doing these simple things, God will us to bring his love and grace to others. We must remember that if God has called us to reach out to someone there will be a reason for it and because he is already working in their lives. We don’t need to do much. Just listen well and try to offer to pray, care or help in the way that seems natural to you.
The fourth step is to REPORT this to another Christian friend. They could be in your small group, or at church, or at work, or in your family, or your husband or wife. It doesn’t matter really but it makes a difference. Reporting stories of God’s call, and our obedience, encourages others and strengthens us. It also leads to greater insight and wisdom about whether there is anything else you might be being called to do next. Reporting is important, even when seemingly nothing happens, or when we even feel we get it wrong. Reporting is how we learn with others.
And the last stage of this simple practice is to NOTICE what God does in the life of the person you reached out to. NOTICE what HE is doing, not what impact you make. NOTICE the response of the person the Spirit of God at work in the world.
Don’t worry if you don’t get a positive response. Don’t fret if someone goes quiet, walks away, or doesn’t really engage. But do notice it. Not everyone is ready. And so, if they go quiet, you go quiet. If they walk away, you walk away. If they don’t respond, don’t push. But do notice. And go back to praying, go back to serving them, go back to loving them, go back to celebrating them.
But also notice the times when people do respond. Take note of them. Learn from them. And remember that acorns grow into large oak trees.
As a church, we long to see God change lives, and the great news is that God will use us to facilitate his work. All of us can be involved, using our natural networks of friends, family, colleagues and neighbours.
So, why not start today? God is already working in our natural networks. We only just need to learn how to pay attention to what he is doing, take some very small risks in reaching out, and seeing God change lives and families through us.
In my next post I want to mention a new way that we are being called to reach out to a world in need.