While churches continue to seek out the best "strategy" for reaching their communities for Christ, some have simply returned to the timeless tradition of opening their homes to others. No, it's not flashy. And no, it's not programmed. It's just the most natural setting for proclaiming Christ to your friends and neighbors. I agree with Tim Chester in his book, Total Church, when he says,
People need to encounter the church as a network of relationships rather than a meeting you attend or a place you enter. ... In our experience people are often attracted to the Christian community before they are attracted to the Christian message.
People are looking for a place to belong. And I believe the home provides the best atmosphere for this type of authentic community. Why? Because it's a place where pretence and perfection can't live. Unlike the church (building!) it's too hard to put up your best front at home. Like one pastor said, "You get to know folks when they have spaghetti sauce on the front of their shirt."
So how do we get started in opening the doors of our homes to others? Alexander Strauch gives these helpful guidelines:
- Set a regular time each week/month to invite people to your home
- Make a list of people who would be encouraged by your offer of hospitality
- Remember to invite people to your home during holiday seasons -- especially those who rarely receive an invitation and cannot repay you (Luke 14:13)
I would simply add this: Don't go at it alone. Get others who can join you. When you have your next time of fellowship with other believers, intentionally invite some non-believing neighbors or friends. Free up those who have the gift of hospitality to plan the event and host it. Invite those you know who have the gift of gab to rub shoulders with your neighbors. Get others to pray for this time who you know will labor in prayer. Bring other believers who are encouragers and love to have a good time. And when you’re all together, just have fun hanging out. Eat together, talk about life together, enjoy one another’s company. This kind of love for one another is attractive to the world. And through these relationships, pray that God would open up a time where you can share the reason for the hope that is in you.