Yesterday was a great Sunday! We had 2 wonderful worship services, a packed First Step Class for newcomers, and a great BBQ after church! When I got home, my belly, my soul, and my heart were full. I love this church, and I am so excited to be here sharing life with all of you!
Yesterday I spoke about hospitality being the key to evangelism. Hospitality is not about slick welcome packages, elaborate Pinterest tea parties, or warm cookies at the hotel check in desk. Hospitality is about sharing life with others. Share a cup of coffee, a meal, or take a walk with someone. Have somebody over to dinner without cleaning up! Its OK to let people see that your laundry isn't folded, or that the dishes aren't done. Its OK to serve soup from a can and grilled cheese sandwiches because you don't have time to fix something spectacular. The point isn't to wow people with your amazing culinary and housekeeping skills. The point is to allow people into your life; the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Too often we show people the glossy, social media sanitized version of our life. But this is putting Vaseline of the camera lens of reality, and Christ is often cropped out of these blurred pictures. The truth is, Christ appears clearest in our weakness and our blemishes, and when people see the real version of our lives, they see him more clearly. This is what happens in the midst of true hospitality. Jesus invited people the share their lives with him, and the result was that sinners repented, the lost were found, and the Kingdom of God exploded with the beauty of broken people made whole!
Want to know how to be hospitable in your life and become a force of evangelism in your community?
- Go where the people are. Don't try to lure people to you. First, go to them. Most people that are far from God aren't just going to show up to church or to a bible study. Go where they are. This is what Jesus did, and if he can walk into seedy places, so can we!
- Earn the right to be heard. This is a phrase from the founder of Young Life, Jim Rayburn. Don't expect people to listen to you if you haven't proven to them that you care for them. When people feel loved, their ears will be open. This takes time and patience!
- Invite them to share in your life. Take someone out for coffee. Invite them into your disordered life! Running to Costco in Norfolk? Take a friend with you. Inviting someone to share your life is actually easy. It just takes the initiative to invite! But when people see that you care enough to invite them into your mess, they feel accepted, loved, and are open to receiving Christ in you!
- Love them for who they are and where they are at in life. People that are far from God, that have not given their life to Christ, are not yet filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Not to say that they are not being moved by the Holy Spirit, they may be, but they have not yet received the infilling that comes from being born anew. With that understood, we mustn't get upset when a non-Christian acts like a non-Christian! It is only through the Holy Spirit that you and I are able to behave in Holy and obedient ways. (Even with the Holy Spirit, we often ignore him, and act disobediently!) In short, people who are not following Christ are not going to act the same way you and I do. That's OK. We need to love them, and love them, and then love them some more. God was patient with us, and we show that patience to others through Christ's strength and love in us. People will change, but we have to wait sometimes. To paraphrase Dorie from the Pixar movies, "Just keep loving, just keep loving..."
That's all for now. Be hospitable, be loving, be an evangelist. We can blow this place up with the love of Jesus, and the Kingdom can grow by leaps and bounds!