Bringing the Mission Field to My Dining Room Table
The twenty-first century church has cultivated highly sophisticated procedures and tools for missions and evangelism—training sessions, online and media resources, seminars, manuals, and methodology books are readily available. However, as I study Scripture, I find that the home as well as the church served as the center for missions and evangelism in the early expansion of Christianity. Our homes become centers for missions and evangelism when they are dedicated to our Lord. One of the ways believers can participate in missions and evangelism without leaving the country is by using their dining room tables. Michael Green writes, “One of the most important methods of spreading the gospel in antiquity was the use of homes.”[i] He then affirms the home of Aquila and Priscilla by stating, “Homes like this must have been exceedingly effective in the evangelistic outreach of the church.”[ii]
Vonette Bright, who along with her husband, Bill, founded Campus Crusade for Christ in 1951, encourages Christian women to use their homes as a center for evangelism. Writing in The Joy of Hospitality, she explains how hospitality can build bridges to those who need Christ . . .
“Hospitality is more than entertaining. It is expecting God to do great things through you as you reach out to touch the lives of others. It is focusing our relationships, especially the greatest relationship of all—walking and talking with the Lord Jesus Christ. True hospitality doesn’t wear us out or make us feel pressured; life-sharing is not entertaining in our own strength. It flows from a heart full of love for others. Christ’s love, which doesn’t come from our self-effort, it is a work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The love of Christ is what draws people to God. This love transforms a party or other event into true hospitality. Hospitality, then, is not an event, it is genuine concern for another’s well-being.”[iii]
An excursion through New Testament Scriptures gives us insight into the importance of evangelism for the believer:
- Our Lord’s final instruction to His disciples was to make disciples, not merely converts, of all nations (Matthew 28:19).
- Paul writes that our Lord gave spiritual gifts, including the gift of evangelist, to those He called into service (Eph 4:11). Repeating the term in 2 Timothy 4:5, Paul directs believers “to do the work of an evangelist.” John MacArthur provides insight on this passage by defining evangelist for us: “Used only two other times in the NT (Acts 21:8; Ephesians 4:1), this word always refers to a specific office of ministry for the purpose of preaching the gospel to non-Christians. Based on Ephesians 4:11, it is very basic to assume that all churches would have both pastor-teachers and evangelists. But the related verb “to preach the gospel” and the related noun “gospel” are used throughout the NT not only in relation to evangelists, but also to the call for every Christian, especially preachers and teachers, to proclaim the gospel. Paul did not call Timothy to the office of an evangelist, but to “do the work” of one” [iv]
- Romans 12:13b says believers are to practice hospitality—literally, they are to “pursue the love of strangers” (Hebrews 13:2)—not simply offer hospitality to their friends. If they want to demonstrate obedience to their heavenly Father, they will choose to practice biblical hospitality.
So, what are some practical tips for bringing the mission field to your dining room table?
- Collect and experiment with simple, inexpensive recipes for desserts and meals (it is risky to try a new recipe on guests).
- Maintain emergency supplies to be able to accommodate “impromptu hospitality.” The supplies might include:
- Baked potatoes and toppings for a dinner (they can even be prepared and frozen; heat the potatoes, add the toppings and you quickly have a “comfort food” meal.
- Supplies for Fajitas
- Tortillas and cheese with desired toppings
- Cheese and crackers
- Coffee, tea, and other healthy beverages
- Homemade baked items frozen (wrap them tightly in small quantities and label; keep no longer than three months). They will thaw while you are preparing the beverages.
- Don’t wait until you have the perfect home or an ample budget to begin practicing biblical hospitality.
- Make a list of people who would be encouraged by your offer of hospitality, and purpose to invite your first guests soon!
- Start simple. Spontaneously inviting someone home after Sunday morning church is a great beginning.
- Invest in a crock pot and use it. A crockpot meal is a wonderful way to have lunch ready when you return home from church.
- Reduce stress by preparing as much of a meal as possible in advance. Set the table early. This leaves time for you to prepare yourself spiritually and physically to minister to your guests (Phil 4:6-9).
- Maintain your sense of humor and be creative if something does not turn out exactly as you planned. Keep your mind set on whom you are really serving, and your perspective will remain God-honoring (Col 3:23).
- Greet your guests with a genuine smile and communicate to them that you are blessed to have them in your home!
- Pray that our loving heavenly Father will give you joy in demonstrating hospitality to others (Neh 8:10; Phil 4:4).
- Remember that memories require time and energy to create.
- Purpose to nurture a heart for biblical hospitality that sincerely communicates “come back soon.”
Consider using your home as a center for missions and evangelism and missions soon. Who, knows, you might be entertaining an angel incognito (Heb 13:2)!