Making Disciples Hospitably

Mike Stroud

Our July e-letter highlighted a plan to equip Christians in using their homes as an access ministry for hospitality evangelism. Since then, one equipping group has been launched in Murfreesboro and six more couples have signed up for training beginning October 12th in the Shelbyville area. Read on.

Timothy Network’s first “Lighthouse” training group started in late August. It includes Jim and Martha McDermott, the Strouds, and Barry and Beth Edwards. We hope to have at least five – seven homes ready to begin “hospitality evangelism” in early 2022.

Biblical Hospitality as a Way of Life

Would you open your home one night each week to love and serve people as part of God’s mission to reach the world?

Do you ever feel like you’re one step from from losing it? Whether it be your job, shuttling kids to school and sporting events, frantically moving from one activity to another, or even participating in church related activities, we tend to run ourselves insanely ragged. Our culture can be a pressure cooker.

I suspect many never got past the subject line of this e-letter. After all, any suggestion of adding to an already crowded calendar might make queasiness turn into full blown nausea. If you did read this far, however, I hope you’ll continue till the end. It’s an important subject, one that is challenging but also ripe with opportunity to experience great blessing and be involved in God’s mission to save people. Thank you 🙂

Dustin Willis and Brandon Clements have written a practical guide for harnessing simple hospitality for the purpose of making disciples of Jesus. They see hospitality in our homes as the simplest way to change the world for Christ.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to consider a few helpful quotes from this book. They are included below as food for thought — for all of us.

An important word of caution before you consider their ideas: Try not to take what the authors say as an attempt to shame you into evangelistic action. That’s not their purpose, nor is it why I’m passing along the recommendation to read Willis’ and Clements’ book.

God knows we need a place to recoup from the daily grind of life and work. He provides the blessing of homes for rest, enjoyment, and for raising our families — including an environment for discipling our children. It doesn’t have to be one at the exclusion of the other when it comes to using our homes for personal welfare and hospitality outreach, however.

Thoughts from The Simplest Way to Change the World

* The Great Commission may carry you to the ends of the world, but it starts in your apartment complex, your dorm room, or your suburban neighborhood. God has given you a perfect environment for demonstrating the gospel and advancing His mission, if only [we’d] open our eyes to it.

* Many Christians have bought into the cultural view that our homes are our personal and private fortresses. This has led to a divorce between the way we view our homes and the way we view our mission as Christians. The Great Commission feels very separate from what we do in our houses. We think that mission happens outside the four walls of our homes. In doing so, we waste a powerful and God-ordained means of changing the world.

* The world could use more ordinary Christians opening their ordinary lives so others can see what life in light of the gospel looks like. And what better place to watch Christians than in their homes.

* Jesus said that in His kingdom, the ‘smallest of all seeds’ will leave a lasting impact much larger than expected.’ (See Matthew 13:31-32). In the same way, the ‘smallest’ things in our lives — ordinary days and meals in our homes — can have a much larger impact than you’d ever imagine when harnessed with gospel intentionality.

* As it turns out, we have a more fulfilling and rewarding purpose for our homes than using them exclusively for our benefit and comfort. Instead of thinking of them only as a personal refuge, they can be opened as spiritual hospitals for the hurting around us. Instead of being an oasis of self-interest, they can be transformed into a weapon for the gospel. As we do this, we become the type of counterculture that puts God’s generosity on display.

* Biblical hospitality chooses to engage rather than unplug, open rather than close, initiate rather than sit idly.

* Leveraging our personal refuges for this mission of welcoming others may feel like a great cost, but it is a cost repaid with an abundance of superior joys. Loneliness is traded for community, comfort is surrendered for an eternal purpose, and detached apathy is left behind for a mission meaningful enough to give your life to.

* It may seem strange to think of it this way, but the entire Bible is a story about God’s hospitality. Genesis 1 reads like the most gracious host in the world is welcoming you into His castle, and He says, Look! It’s all yours. Everything! I’ve made it all meticulously for you.’

* Anytime we practice hospitality, we put human flesh on the gospel story. God uses the relationships that are created to model the heart of a hospitable God and draw us closer to Him. When we invite into our homes and lives those who are far from God, we essentially say to them ‘ God loves you, and He hasn’t given up on you.’ We present that message with our actions even before we get to present it in words. If we are truly God’s ‘ambassadors’, as Paul called us in 2 Corinthians 5:20, then when we open our doors to a non-Christian, it is as if God Himself is opening His door.

* Hospitality is a ‘theology of recognition’, where, through simple acts, we convey the truth that wayward sinners are made in the image of God, where we say to those who might doubt their worth or purpose, ‘ We see you! You are welcome here; pull up a chair.’

* While the everyday use of our homes to welcome others might not feel like the most exciting cause in the world, we must remember that ordinary does not equal insignificant. God has always been forming a hospitable people to put His hospitality on display, and if you are in Christ, you are now part of God’s hospitable people.

We hope you’ll consider opening your home for making disciples through ordinary hospitality. Please contact me at the phone number or email address below if you’d like to register for a seven week training group. At least read Willis’ and Clement’s book and consider how God can turn your home into a “lighthouse” for your neighborhood.