The Global Challenge: Discover by Doing

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Going barefoot? Turning the lights off? Drinking from only one water source? Setting alarms to ring every ten minutes? Going without food? Five days of doing something visibly different while you go about your regular day. The whole church? Yes! Because when we experience something, we remember it, and it changes us. The whole family and the whole church gets involved. Let’s shake things up and take The Global Challenge: Discover by Doing. Check out how Calvary Church in California created a three-day challenge during their annual “Reach Week”!



We do these kinds of experiences to identify with God’s heart for the whole world. Each of these radical experiments transports us into a specific reality for two-thirds of the rest of the world. The physical discomfort translates to the spiritual. Going barefoot reminds us that people must actually go to bring good news to broken places. Going without light reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world. Drinking from one water source reminds us that Jesus is our source of living water. Setting ten minute cell phone alarms trains us to check in with God regularly. Going with out food reminds us that Jesus is the bread of life. Secondly, all of these experiments are visible to others and must be done throughout the day. So as we grapple and groan, we must process what we’re doing and why we’re doing it—with others.


  1. Plan the Global Challenge around a weekend sermon series on God’s heart for that nations.

  2. Adapt and design your own Global Challenge: Discover by Doing Guidebook using the information below. Remember to tie the Challenge to specific unreached people groups so that participants can connect what they’re experiencing to actual faces of people with no access to Jesus. Check out this example of a customized Global Challenge called Give it Up that one church created on their own combining elements from all three of these Challenges.

  3. Kick off the series by creating an intentional way to join the adventure so you can continue to communicate with them throughout the week. Creating a group energy and a “buzz” will inspire people to actually do it. For example, we could take a page from The Barefoot Tribe, and ask people to take off their shoes and walk out of the church services barefoot the rest of the day.

  4. At the following weekend services, create a way to share how people felt and celebrate the experience.


  • You could include a copy of Across the Street and Around the World to read during the Global Challenge, or offer it as a gift for those who complete the challenge. People will get inspired by this experience and they’ll want to know what to do next. This book will help them! (Call ChurchSource at 1-800-727-3480 for deep discounts on bulk orders if you are a church).

  • Encourage any mid-week gatherings like small groups, youth groups, and Bible studies to do the day’s challenge during their group time together, debrief with each other, and pray.

  • Create an online space like a Facebook page or a blog for participants to interact and share experiences throughout the week. For example, here’s a journal blog I posted while living for a day without lights.

  • In the Global Challenge guide you create, use Joshua Project to highlight unreached people groups and link to some of the videos recommended for each book chapter.

  • Plan a Friday night celebration night of worship and interactive prayer for the nations. Break the "fast" this night by eating food together to encourage community and sharing of experiences.

  • Do the Global Challenge the same week you're sending a short-term team on a vision trip. You could even video chat live in the service with the team overseas the second weekend, tying the theme into the all-church experience.

  • Plan a Saturday serve day at an apartment complex housing newly arriving refugees in your city or a fun outing with international students at a nearby university.

  • Offer the chance to sign up for upcoming short-term trips, goer missional small groups using Across the Street and Around the World, a Perspectives course, or welcoming a refugee in your city, at the end of the Global Challenge.

How to do the Global Challenge: Discover by Doing

  1. Talk to the people you live with about why you are doing this and what will happen each day.

  2. Set up a worship playlist to listen to when you’re driving and in your home during the week.

  3. Put a photo of an unreached people group on your refrigerator and pray for that people group all week.

  4. Do each day’s Global Challenge as best you can each day.  Don’t be legalistic, just do your best.

  5. Every day, talk about your experience with your family, call a friend who’s doing it too, or journal about it.

  6. In your small group at church, try doing all the Challenges at one time: take off your shoes at the door, meet by candlelight, set an alarm to beep every ten minutes, flush the toilet with a bucket from a designated faucet, and skip the food. Pray.

Day One: Go barefoot.

Kick off this Global Challenge by asking everyone in the service who is joining the challenge to walk out of the service barefoot, and spend the rest of the day without shoes.

The prophet Isaiah wrote, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!" (Isaiah 52:7).

People will ask you, “Why aren’t you wearing any shoes?” You can say something like, “Have you ever heard of that verse in the Bible that says, ‘Beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news’? I’m praying for people to go live in places of suffering, without freedom, where most people won’t go.”

What if you happened to be born in a mountain tribe in Pakistan, or in the deserts of Yemen, or on an island in Indonesia? What if you grew up your whole life and nobody with the good news of Jesus Christ came to live out the Kingdom of God in your place? As you walk on rocks and hot pavement today, pray for more people willing to walk over mountains and deserts to bring life to those without access to Jesus Christ.

Day two: Turn off the lights

Today, don’t use any lights, or turn the electricity completely off.  Use candlelight for dinner.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life"  (John 8:12).

What if you lived in spiritual darkness your whole life?  What if there was a light switch in your house but someone just needed to show you the spiritual light switch?  Jesus. Pray that Jesus Christ, the light of the world, would shine into the darkness of people’s souls. Pray especially for those people in the world who will never even know that the light of Christ is available, because no one brought the light to them.

Day three: Drink from one water source.

Today, only use water from one faucet in your home. Put a post-it note on the faucet to remind your family to only use this “well” to get water. 

 Jesus said “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14).

You’ll find you have to take bucket showers, flush the toilet with buckets of water, and maybe even boil drinking water. This will remind yourself that finding the one way through Jesus takes a lot of intentionality, and you have to keep going back to the one source to get filled up. 

Pray for those who are drinking from many different kinds of “water” to try to find happiness or fulfillment in life. Many have never even heard of the one source of living water, Jesus Christ. Pray for unreached people groups that have so few believers, they’ll never learn of the living water unless someone from outside their group goes to live with them.

Day Four: Set appointments with the King.

Today, set your alarm on your cell phone to ring every half hour.  If you’re ambitious, do it every ten minutes. You have an appointment with your boss, King Jesus who runs God’s economy in the Kingdom of God.

The apostle Paul writes, “Never stop praying…” (1 Thess. 5:17).

When you hear the reminder alarm ring, ask God how you should pray for the nations and pray whatever he brings to your mind. It might be a simple breathe prayer to God, such as: “God, I pray freedom for girls in Nigeria being kidnapped. Lord, please inspire someone to translate the Bible into tribal languages. Jesus, equip the believers in South India to go north. Spirit of God, blow away the cloud of disbelief and secularism over Turkey."

Day Five: Go without food.

Today, go without food from sun-up to sun-down. (If you’ve never done this before, try skipping a meal). 

 Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
(John 6:35).

Guess what, you won’t die without food for a day, but you will understand how it feels to be hungry. What if there are people in the world who are starving spiritually? As you go without food, think about what it would be like not to have access to the words of God in the Bible. Thousands of people groups cannot read or listen to the Bible in their own language. Pray for someone to go live with them, learn their language, and translate it.

Did you take the Global Challenge: Discover by Doing? What did you feel? What did you pray? How did your church adapt it?