I heard a business consultant once say, “Your frontline produces your bottom line.” In other words, if your employees who daily interface with your customers don’t understand or advance your mission, all is lost. Similarly, in renewal congregations if members don’t embrace a commitment to making more and better disciples, all is lost. So how can renewal leaders help their frontline engage in disciple-making? One important aid in this disciple-making process is teaching the ABCs of hospitality. These six practices should be the daily rhythm of Jesus followers.
Here are 6 practices essential for Christian hospitality:
The first step of hospitality is getting our eyes up to see those God is putting in our path. Awareness often begins by noticing someone who is hurting spiritually, physically, relationally or emotionally that could use an ounce of Christ’s love. Jesus was always aware of those around him needing a healing touch or an encouraging word.
The second step of hospitality is finding the courage to connect. This courage often demands reworking plans for a day, taking on burdens that are not our own or giving space to hear painful truth. Jesus was bold in making his way to people, like the Samaritan woman, whose deep brokenness made her thirsty for living water.
The third step in hospitality is engaging in conversation. Conversation is the place where relationships are formed. The most important part of hospitable conversation is the art of asking good questions and listening patiently to a person’s response. Notice how often Jesus began a conversation with a question and then engaged in patient listening.
D…Developing a friendship:
The fourth step is developing a friendship with those for whom the Spirit encourages us to take a deeper dive. True hospitality demands moving from being friendly to being friends. Not all conversations lead to friendships but for a select few there is an opportunity to enter into a shared life. Jesus said to his disciples, “I call you friends” John 15:15
The final step on the path toward Christian hospitality is enfolding a new-found friend into faith and faith family. This typically begins with a simple testimony of what Christ and his family have meant in our lives followed by an invitation to next steps in faith exploration. Jesus always invited people into a deeper life of faith.
F…Following the Spirit:
“F” is an addendum. It is the encouragement to always respond to the Holy Spirit’s nudging. Christian hospitality begins with the Spirit’s directing our footsteps to people and places where he would have us to be. If we offer our “yes” in advance, there will always be more than enough opportunities to serve as Christ’s hands and feet in this world.