In a previous post titled Helping People to Become Inviters, I talked about giving the people in our churches more resources for becoming better “bringers” of the transformative power of Jesus to others.
While the word evangelism is not popular these days for all sorts of justifiable reasons, the idea of sharing the revolutionary good news of Jesus is unavoidable in the New Testament. And, of course, that’s in the context of the full message of the Kingdom, including the “now and not yet.”
As simple as Andrew saying to his friend Nathaniel “Come and see” is, we know there’s much more to it than how to invite. There’s no sense in giving people techniques, methods, or tools if they haven’t experienced square one: a true, experiential connection with God through Jesus.
But as a leader, I’d like you to consider two other simple tools of how we can relate to the mission of Jesus.
One of the most neglected ways to connect with those who may be far away from any real active faith is hospitality.
In an interview years ago regarding her book Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition, Dr. Christine Pohl, professor of Christian social ethics at Asbury Theological Seminary, reminded us that:
“Hospitality in Greek is “love of strangers.” Welcoming strangers had great significance for the early church. Hospitality meant welcoming outsiders into personal space, mostly a home, and offering them food, shelter, and protection. . . . It had a strong component of recognition and respect—which was most characteristically expressed through shared meals. They understood that who you eat with says a lot about who you…value.”
Hospitality, particularly around the table, is simply a reflection of what God has done for us. We were once strangers, but God invited us to His table. It’s interesting that in the first covenant, there was a table for bread in the Holy Place in the tabernacle...and only the priests could enter that room. The table was located near the veil that separated that area from the Holy of Holies, where God’s very presence dwelled, where only the High Priest could enter...and only once a year.
And isn’t it interesting that Jesus initiated the new covenant with all of humanity over a table, with a Passover meal served…what Christians now call the Eucharist or Communion? That we, who were strangers to God, were invited to the table, to share in the body and blood of Jesus. Think about it: this New Covenant was initiated at a dinner with God in the flesh. When we see Jesus as truly God, the meaning of that moment is overwhelming. That’s part of the reason why communion is such a powerful reminder of being invited to the table by God Himself—and an invitation to enter His presence.
But it began with a table.
Last is what a friend of mine calls “friendship with a vision.” That’s when you dream for the people you know to become all that God wants them to be, to envision them enveloped in God’s love, His mercy and grace, forgiven and clothed in power. That’s when you see what they could be in the Kingdom. That’s when you call them out of darkness and into His marvelous light. That’s when you know what they could be in Jesus, when you see them the way Jesus sees them.
Someone was satisfied. Someone invited you to the table. And someone had high hopes for your transformation…and helped you cross the line of faith.
Pass it on, friends.
Dave Workman | The Elemental Group