Category Archives: hospitality

Mission as hospitality–welcoming people into our world

We often view mission as incarnation, as us going somewhere to be among people. Jesus left heaven and entered our world, becoming one of us (John 1:14) to relate to us and befriend us. We see our mission to those with no relationship to Jesus taking that same form: we enter their world in order to relate to them, be a friend to them, to love them. That’s what Steve & Laura Campbell did when they left our congregation and moved to Montenegro, the European country where less than 0.1% of the population is part of a Bible-based church.

But mission is also hospitality. Love often calls us to welcome other people into our world, in order to accomplish those same things—to relate to them, to be a friend to them, to love them, to draw them with the life we find when Jesus is Lord and Savior.

This can involve inviting persons to our church. Though as fewer in our society go to church while growing up, this works less and less: the unchurched can find the language and songs of church services foreign and intimidating. To walk into a place where one is an outsider takes more courage than many persons have.

Often a deeper form of hospitality is needed: inviting people into our ordinary lives, giving persons a chance to get an inside look at what a life of faith in Jesus means.

This is not tacking more events onto our already busy lives. This is letting persons be with us as we do what we are already doing. We all eat three meals a day. Why not make a habit of once or twice a week sharing one of those meals with a non-Christian? Do your hobby or something you enjoy with others.

While with the unchurched, we don’t need to do or say anything we would not ordinarily do or say. We don’t need to convince them of Christ. Rather, we let them see what living as a Christ-follower looks like Monday through Monday. As Christ shapes and changes our choices and attitudes in our daily lives, we talk about it. And one day, through the Spirit, a conversation about the claims of Christ can be natural and fruitful.

Inviting people in our lives is hard, especially for us who are not extroverts. But Jesus endured much for the sake of mission. The Campbells are too. So can we.

Encountering Jesus…through hospitality

Our congregation’s theme or emphasis this year is “Encountering Jesus.” This is the central experience of our Christian life:

we are disciples or Jesus-followers, meaning we are led by Jesus, our lives are shaped by anything we know of Jesus;

we read the Bible, not simply to learn facts or to find eternal life but because it tells us about Jesus (John 5:39);

we pray and do other spiritual disciplines to create spaces in our days in which Jesus can speak to us through his Spirit;

we do missions or reach out so that that others can enjoy what we have enjoyed in Jesus—grace and truth and “life to the full” (John 10:10).

No one loves us like Jesus: dying for us. No one has power like Jesus: conquering death, hell, and Satan. No one understands life like Jesus: teaching with unequalled wisdom.

So I jump at any chance to interact with and experience this Jesus. Even if it might involve inconvenience or even sacrifice, I am willing, even eager, for it. Even if it might lead to only a glimpse of Jesus, I will do it.

That’s why I have been willing to set out on the “hospitality challenge” which we as a congregation have been doing for several weeks now: praying every morning for an opportunity to welcome and love someone God brings in our life. Perhaps it means I will simply listen to someone I meet, or do them some practical favor, or give words of affirmation and encouragement.

I anticipate encountering Jesus in three ways through this adventure:

the morning prayer (“Lord, please send me a hospitality opportunity today”) will make me more apt to notice any nudges from Jesus during my day;

the interactions with persons will let me see Jesus touching them with his love, power, understanding—perhaps through me;

and, as Jewel wrote in the last newsletter, sometimes I might look into the eyes of a stranger and see Jesus looking at me.

I will enjoy hearing the little reports of what happens as we pray this prayer!