The Three Foot Principle

So far, we’ve talked about how we are sent on the mission as Jesus with the same method as Jesus to the same people as Jesus. We are to utilize the spiritual power of our friendship to minister to those in our lives. But how do we do this? It’s about time we begin discussing the nuts and bolts of friendship ministry.

The first step in all this is identifying who we are to befriend (i.e., minister through our friendship). This begins by understanding exactly what Jesus meant when he said, “Go and make disciples.” We often assume that “go” means leave where you’re at and go somewhere else: Go to the far corners of the earth; do these things for this certain group of people that is outside of where you are right now. You need to go somewhere else.

But Jesus wasn’t necessarily saying that “go” meant leaving where you’re at to minister somewhere else. In fact, this is a large reason so many are intimidated by evangelism. By all means, some people are called to go or to be sent. But what Jesus meant by “go,” more than anything, is to get started. It’s sort of like the beginning of a race by shouting, “3-2-1 GO!!!!” The Great Commission is more about making disciples than going somewhere. It’s more the people, not the place. And if God does indeed call you to a certain place, it’s always about the people in that place.

If you know the Lord hasn’t called you to go somewhere else, then it’s safe to assume God has you right where he wants you. Therefore, “Go and make disciples” can mean “get started where you are.” There’s a reason the Great Commission started in Jerusalem first before it worked out to the far corners of the earth: God wanted the disciples to begin where they were. 

Everyday, we, too, have opportunities for friendship-ministry with the people right where we are. And something that can help us identify who those people are is through something I heard at a conference once called the three foot principle. Everyone has a three foot radius. Imagine going about your day as normal, but with a yard stick protruding from your side. Three feet is an opportune distance for someone to enter into your sphere of influence for you to impact them in s0me way, shape, and form.

So ask yourself: Who regularly walks through your three foot radius?

This list may include your husband; your daughter; your cubicle buddies; the barista who works every morning you drive through Starbucks; your hair stylist; the homeless person on the street; the cashier in the gas station; your small group; your atheist father; your Xbox Live friends.

I want you to realize that whoever those people are who pass through your three foot radius, God has entrusted to your care. They are where your mission begins. They are the people God has called you to befriend, with all the missional attributes that come attached with a spiritual friendship understanding.

The three foot principle is a great means of identifying who those people are… but this still begs a question: How does friendship ministry work with different people all over the map with their spirituality—if they have any at all?

Stay tuned.

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