Infiltrating your Community with the Gospel

We need to reach out into our community.” 9616068841b1d3fc9b0ae450d8731906

Ok…lets get a big group together and do a service project. After all, we could volunteer for a couple of hours then go home…get back to our regular routines.

There is no doubt a service project can do good for your community and the people you serve. Yet, when Jesus said “go and make disciples”, He wasn’t talking about an occasional group project, but a personal lifestyle of sharing the gospel and helping people to grow in their faith. Think about “the Samaritan woman who ran back to the city and told people about Jesus (John 4) or when Jesus sent the twelve out in pairs to proclaim the kingdom of God (Mark 6).

Reaching my community means going out on my own and sharing the gospel…scary thought!

Jeff Iorg, in his book, Unscripted, explains it this way,

“evangelism is about connecting people to Jesus and connecting Jesus with your community—spontaneously, joyfully and honestly.”

How do I connect people to Jesus? Do I need to memorize a “gospel presentation” and knock on doors or stand on the street corner and talk to anyone who will listen…not sure I want to do that! 

You might find memorizing a gospel presentation helpful, although this is not about making “cold-calls” to strangers. Instead, there is a way to connect people to Jesus, while doing something you really enjoy. Iorg suggests we “share the gospel in the most natural setting possible—among people who share your interests, passions, or activities.”

Five Step Infiltration Strategy

Iorg recommends implementing a strategy of getting involved in the community that leads to opportunities to the share the gospel.

1. What hobby or volunteer activity you enjoy doing or would like to do if you had the time? Is it…reading, quilting, painting, running, or helping children, youth, seniors, or something entirely different?

2. Do it…join a community group, like a book club, quilt guild, running group or volunteer in a community program at a school, hospital, senior care home or shelter.

3. Lets say you are out there in the community. Look around and start to notice who is there. As you notice the people, pray specifically for God to work in their lives. Also, pray that God would provide opportunities for you to share the gospel.

4. Next, begin to engage one person or a few people in conversations that move beyond what is needed for the activity. Ask personal questions about their family, pets, or job. Or ask goal questions like…what do you dream of doing or where would you like to visit. Then listen and respond with genuine interest and concern. Be alert for opportunities to share the gospel and tell how your faith has impacted your life. Iorg goes on to point out that, “Witnessing is an unscripted dialogue, sometimes an ongoing dialogue with bits and parts of the gospel shared over time.”

5. Finally, continue to be involved and work on building relationships. Keep praying and ask if you can pray with them. Be available to help out with a need they have; invite them over for a meal. Live out your faith before them, as authentically as possible. It could just be that your friendship is what God uses to bring them to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ and help them grow in their faith.


3 Reasons to Show Hospitality



Hospitality gives evidence of a sacrificed life

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Romans 12:1

Living sacrifice”…how is that possible? All sacrifices to God die, don’t they? Bulls, rams, goats, even turtle doves given as sacrifices to God…were killed. Jesus gave Himself up for us as a sacrifice to God when He died on the cross (Eph 5:2). If we are to be “living sacrifices” we need to die…we need to die to self and live for God. Pursuing hospitality is dying to the selfish way I view my house…my cooking…my time…my money and living for God by loving, sharing meals, and listening to the people God has placed in my life.

Hospitality isn’t just another “diffficut” command. Hospitality comes out of a life that is fully surrendered to God.

 Hospitality is opportunity to use our spiritual gifts

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly… Romans 12:6

What is your spiritual gift? Is it mercy or service? Invite them in, share a meal and listen.

Is it teaching or evangelism? Regularly invite people for dinner who are interested in learning more about God and His word.

The Son of Man came to serve and give His life (Mark 10:45). He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). The Son of Man came eating and drinking (Luke 7:34).

Hospitality is not showing off our nice homes, fine cooking, and sparkling conversation skills. Hospitality is inviting people in, sharing meals and having conversations that can change lives.

Hospitality shows the genuineness of our love

Let love be genuine. Romans 12:9

What does genuine Christian love look like? Is it seen in our love and honor for one another? Or the diligent, fervent way we serve the Lord? Would one who loves genuinely rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer? Contribute to the needs of the saints? Yes…yes…of course. Yet the final command listed in Romans 12 is…seek to show hospitality. Whoa…what?? Can’t I love without inviting people in my home? Yes, of course you can. But how can we say we genuinely love  people and God for that matter, if we are not willing to seek (literally pursue) hospitality? My study on hospitality has shown me how selfish I am… It has challenged me to ask myself…do I really love my neighbor or God…genuinely? Unfortunately the answer too often is no.

Lydia sought to show hospitality

In Acts 16, we find Paul and his companions in Philippi, on the Sabbath, looking for a place of prayer. They found women assembled by the river. Lydia, a gentile woman was among the Jewish women there. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message (Acts 16:14)…then what did she do? Say thank you Paul and go on her way? NO she prevailed upon (urge strongly…to persuade) Paul and his companions to come to her house and stay. Maybe it was because she saw the needs of Paul and his companions and sought to meet them. OR maybe she realized that her home and possessions — were resources to used by God. This was not one time event. Later, when Paul and Silas, who had been imprisoned, were released they went again to Lydia’s house and meet with the believers there, before they left the city.

Lydia’s example of hospitality gives us some questions to ponder…

How ready and willing am I to share my home…my time?

Will I be open-hearted and generous or closed and tight-fisted?

Do I see my home as mine or the Lord’s to be used for his purposes?

Ministry of Listening

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.  – Jesus

Closing the door behind them. Whew!woman-opening-door-400x333-1

Hospitality extended to new neighbors. Check.√

The kids and dog did not tear up the house. Check. √√

They enjoyed our favorite meal. Check.√√√

Listen to and learned about our new neighbors… Wait. I don’t remember much about them…their names are Jack and Jill (well probably not, but sounded something like that), but what else had they said? I don’t know, with serving the food, cleaning up the spills, the TV going in the background and the phones buzzing, it did get kind of crazy.

In the busyness of hosting, I can forget it is not just about a clean house and filling their plates. True hospitality is caring for others. Listening is a key way to show we care. Talking comes so natural, we are encourged to talk from birth (Did you hear her first word?!) Listening is not so natural and is much…much more difficult. So the question is, how can we learn to be good listeners? You can always read a book about listening. I have several, in fact. But we really need to learn from the best listener…Jesus.

Listen Like Jesus

The Feast of the Passover was near. Jesus and his disciples were traveling to Jerusalem. We pick up the story below as they are leaving Jericho, with a large crowd of people following.

And two blind men sitting by the road, hearing that Jesus was passing by, cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”

The crowd sternly told them to be quiet, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

And Jesus stopped and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

They said to Him, “Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.”

Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.    Matthew 20:30-34

Five Keys Actions of a Good Listener

Stop.  When Jesus heard the blind men call to him, He stopped. The journey could wait. I am guilty of thinking, “I can multi-task while I listen.” Listen and load the dishwasher, check my Facebook page, or watch TV…yeah not really. To be a good listener we need to be willing to stop, put our agenda on hold.

Focus.  Jesus called out to the men. Even surrounded by what was sure to have been a noisy crowd, Jesus focused on these two men. Giving His full attention, He showed concern for them and affirmed their value to Him.

Ask. Jesus, who knows everything, asked a question. He gave these men the opportunity to be heard. We too need to ask open-ended questions to show our interest in the person and what they have to say (tell me about…).

Wait.  Jesus knew what they needed, but He didn’t just “fix” them or interrupt saying, “I know best”. He waited, to let them express themselves. Waiting is hard. Waiting shows the person that I value what you have to say and will wait until you are ready to share.

Respond.  Jesus was moved with compassion. He responded in a way that brought healing to these men. We cannot physically heal. Yet, listening helps us to connect with a person at their point of need. We can respond with words of encouragement and grace, that can bring healing to their heart.

The ministry of listening has been committed to us by Him who is Himself the great listener. We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the  word of God.                                                             Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together