Dear West Campus Family,
I recently read a quote from Steve Childers, a seminary professor and leading church planting strategist. He was meeting with some pastors for a seminar and raised this question to them: "You know what the key to evangelism in the 21st-century will be, don't you?" After a long pause he answered his own question: "Hospitality."
As we continue to employ our "Reach...Connect...Multiply" strategy for this new school year, one of the most important ways we will reach others is through hospitality. The most important tool we have in our toolbox to engage with those outside the Christian faith is our own homes and sharing a meal with our neighbors.
I am currently reading a book by Tony Merida entitled Ordinary: How To Turn the World Upside Down. Dr. Merida pastors a church in the Raleigh-Durham area and they have grown over the last two years significantly with no advertising at their church. When new people come in and ask about programs they have at the church and how they can get involved, Pastor Merida tells them, "Invite somebody over for dinner." They don't have a ton of programs in their church because they want their people having other people over for meals throughout the week so gospel conversations can take place.
Hospitality is not about entertaining people. "Entertaining" guests is about impressing others; hospitality is about serving others. Hospitality literally means "love for strangers." Dr. Merida states, "Hospitality is what we extend to outsiders, strangers, and those in physical and spiritual need."
Hospitality is seen throughout the Old and New Testament. It was the heart of the early church. In fact, look at the life of Jesus. He was constantly eating with people, and even gets labeled a "glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!" He even eats in the homes of the hated tax collectors, like Levi and Zacchaeus.
In his book Eating Your Way Through Luke's Gospel, Robert Karris says throughout the gospel of Luke Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal. Luke gives attention to Jesus' ministry at the dinner table.
Lest we think this is a nice thing for some to do but optional, the Bible commands us in Romans 12:13 "...pursue hospitality." 1 Peter 4:9 states, "Be hospitable to one another without complaining." Hospitality is so important that one of the qualifications for pastors is hospitality (1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8)
The Labor Day weekend is upon us. You may be grilling some burgers at home this weekend. Why don't you make it a point to invite some neighbors over and join you? I believe this is one of the best ways we as a church can be on mission for Jesus in our own community. Oh, and as we continue our message series this Sunday about love, this is one the best ways you can love your neighbor as yourself!
Loving God and loving my neighbors alongside you,
P.S. Thank you West Campus family for my 1 year anniversary cards and gifts. So unexpected yet greatly appreciate. You guys are the best!