Hospitality and Outreach
In a conversation with a friend, I was given a chance to share the Gospel. As I told him the story of Jesus' sacrifice, he respectfully listened and nodded his head signalling that I had his full attention. Then at the end of the conversation he said. "That is good for you...just not for me." I probed a little deeper and he expressed to me that he liked the idea of Jesus, but he wanted "nothing to do with Church."
This response puzzled me at first, but since I have come to understand why he said what he did. He and many others like him have a general distrust for the Church. A growing hatred for truth and a keen eye for hypocrisy has helped our once Christian friendly culture join a world where the church is very unpopular.
Struggling to Find a Voice
Unpopular people do not have a voice. Especially in a culture where people surround themselves with voices that agree with their worldview. Certain models of evangelism are increasingly ineffective and even inviting friends to church seems to turn people off.
How do we reach a world with the Gospel if they will not listen to us? How can we share the good news of Jesus when so many people distrust the Church? How can we find a voice that our family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances will hear?
Welcoming People Into Your Home
Perhaps its time to get some real skin in the game when is come to evangelism. Perhaps people need to experience our love for them before they will listen to us. Perhaps its time to open our hearts and our homes for the sake of the Gospel.
In a blog post for the Gospel Coalition, David Mathis writes,
"In our progressively post-Christian society, the importance of hospitality as an evangelistic asset is growing rapidly. Increasingly, the most strategic turf on which to engage unbelievers with the good news of Jesus may be the turf of our own homes. When people don’t gather in droves for stadium crusades, or tarry long enough on the sidewalk to hear your gospel spiel, what will you do? Where will you interact with them about the things that matter most? Invite them to dinner."
The key to finding a voice with our non-believing friends, is not shouting the truth louder. It is quietly offering them a vision of our heart for them. In a highly individualized world, opening our home might be the best expression of our love.
The apostle Paul wrote that he was "ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us." His love for people caused him to give of his very self for the sake of reaching them. And his belief in the truths of God had him wishing that he would be accursed if it guaranteed their salvation.
Sacrifice for the Good of People
Let's be honest. Giving of ourselves has a cost. Investing in people can be emotionally draining and potentially a financial burden. When we are tempted to count the personal cost of outreach, let us be reminded that there was another who gave of himself for the sake of people. Let us remember the sacrifice of Jesus as he gave his life to welcome a people into His home.
Our Homes are a Resource
The example of the Gospel calls us beyond counting the cost, to lavish giving of our resources. Our Homes are a wonderful resource that we have to spend. Inviting people into our homes offers us an opportunity to create an environment that is fertile for deep and lasting conversations.
Debbie Rottier writes in her book, A Cup of Cold Water
"Hospitality bonds people together, building relationships between individuals with varying similarities and difference. It opens doors that previously would not budge. Many deep friendships have developed between people who first got acquainted when one opened his or her heart in a gesture of hospitality."
It is in these deepening friendships that the soil is made ready for the Gospel. Be willing to spend of your home and give of your families time to open the door for the Gospel to penetrate a hard heart.
Believe the Gospel, love without restraint, and give of yourself for the salvation of those whom God places in your life. We do well to give of fleeting resources to gain brothers and sister for eternity!