A friend of mine, Pernell Goodyear, was talking at our denomination’s regional gathering. I was recently going through my notes and really resonated with what he shared. He was talking about evangelism, as inviting people into our lives and walking with others. In his talk he said this:
“Soap boxes and pulpits are not nearly as important as kitchen tables and couches.”
This point really hit me quite hard. His point was simple. Evangelism happens best in the context of hospitality and friendship. Inviting people into your life to see how you live, to ask questions, and to live with you is the starting point. We need to be less concerned with getting our message out there, and more concerned with getting our “lives” out there. To actually connect with people, from friendships, and not only speak the message of grace, but to live it out.
Pernell’s point isn’t to invite someone into your home to “evangelize” or “convert” them. Jesus didn’t do that. Jesus entered people’s homes to hear their stories, to enter into their lives with grace. He entered their homes so that their lives became a part of his story. And we need to follow the same example, practicing radical hospitality with our friends, neighbors, and co-workers, letting their stories intermingle with ours, to see what God might do with the convergence.
So how do we practice this? Well, that’s the easy part, you start opening up your home, inviting neighbors in, inviting friends in, and welcoming others. Start listening to other people’s stories and seeking to discover how Jesus has been active in their lives, because he is. Jesus is already at work all over the world. We need to start joining him in that work by welcoming people into our homes, and starting to share our story, and listen to others…