This post is a reflection by Olivia Wood on the recent Christian Formation class ‘Gospel Hospitality’
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19)
Growing up as an evangelical Christian, I was taught from this verse that I could not separate my faith from the act of evangelism. Just as the eleven disciples were given this calling, so we too are called to make disciples.
But as someone who does not claim evangelism as one of my spiritual gifts, I have often wondered how am I living out this particular calling in my own life?
Another unexpected way … Hospitality
These past four weeks I attended a Christian Formation class called Gospel Hospitality. We looked at what it means, what our own barriers to practicing it are, and how to practically implement it.
I was particularly struck by the idea that hospitality is an underused form of evangelism. My understanding and definition of evangelism, like many others I suspect, is far too narrow. And I can now see that my view of hospitality has suffered a similar fate. I’ve never known how to share my faith in a way that didn’t feel forced or awkward, but this idea that my home could be where others encounter, and perhaps begin to engage with God both excited and convicted me.
In order to step outside of my cultural interpretation of hospitality, it was important for me to understand the meaning of the word as it is used in scripture. Hospitality is more directly translated to mean love for strangers or outsiders, though we are called to show love to our friends, family, and brothers and sisters in Christ as well. However, the people outside my circle of friends and family are not usually who I feel compelled to include in my personal life, to invite into my home, or to let them see me as I am. I have realized that true hospitality is a bold and vulnerable step, which is why it can be such a strong form of evangelism. It is powerful because it is unexpected.
What can I do?
There is no one way to show gospel hospitality. It isn’t just about homecooked meals and it doesn’t even have to be in your house (some of us don’t have that kind of space). With so many opportunities to practice gospel hospitality, it might be hard to know where to start. But here are a few tips…
- Listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, he’s a good guide
- Allow yourself to be vulnerable, we don’t have to show perfection, just ourselves
- Invite someone (i.e. neighbor, coworker) to participate in some of the ordinary, daily parts of your life.
In the 21stcentury an invitation to share life is an unexpected action that God can use to accomplish His extraordinary will. Give it a go!
Book recommendation from Pastor Ben
What did God use to draw a radical, committed unbeliever to himself? Did God take her to an evangelistic rally? Or, since she had her doctorate in literature, did he use something in print? No, God used an invitation to dinner in a modest home, from a humble couple who lived out the gospel daily, simply, and authentically.