It starts with the basics, getting to know people. Brits aren’t always the best at this, we can be a little reserved, but there is always that great British classic as a starting point – a commentary on the weather! Or chit chat about the kids (especially at the school gate), or dogs (especially for dog walking acquaintances), or grand kids, or the run-up to Christmas or the summer hols? Anything to break the ice and get started.
Notice the places where there might be opportunities to meet people, and make the most of these places. The school gate, a coffee shop, a local business, a park, a community centre.
Look out for the people you find you are seeing regularly. Seek out opportunities to begin to connect with people. Show an interest in people’s lives.
Be yourself. God is in you as you are, you don’t have to become something you’re not for God to be at work within you. Notice what inspires you and what doesn’t. Notice the places/people/activities that leave you feeling energised and do more of these things.
Be prayerful about your choices, in a gentle and natural way. No need for dramatic direction from God about each detail, but listen to the ‘still small voice’.
Don’t let ‘oughts’ direct you – God is more likely to speak through something you are drawn towards than something you feel you ought to do. The ‘oughts’ may be worth noting though. They could be saying something important that the church needs to hear but isn’t necessarily for you to do. Or it may be something to log for the future, for when the time is right.
Look for opportunities to gather people around food. Jesus often spoke about parties and gathering around food as a way of speaking of the Kingdom of God – there is something special in gathering around food and much of Jesus’ ministry happened in this context. Do something radical, like a tea party for neighbours in the same street – or same bit of the street if it is a long road.
Be prayerful for the people you are meeting. It is good to pray for all of aspects of their lives rather than focussing just on their spiritual journey – God’s love for them encompasses all of life. If you don’t know them well enough to know their needs then pray for God to bless them and meet the needs that God knows about, even if you don’t yourself. If they are raising questions about faith, then do include this among the wider prayers.