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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Evangelism in the Home

I love this Normal Rockwell painting! It conjures up all the feelings of special times around a dinner table. I love sharing a meal with people in our home.
Hospitality and ministry out of my home is a huge part of our lives.
I work in the home. For several years, I thought that limited my ministry abilities. But God has been faithful to continue to bring ministry opportunities to my own front door. I don't have to be away from my home to do ministry or evangelism. This blog is just one way of doing that.
Another way has been having people live with us.
It's a unique time right now that there are no non-Bacak people living in our home.
We have made our home open to that for several years now. The first time was to a pregnant woman without a place to live. Her name was Robin. She came straight from prison to our house. We were a little nervous, but knew God was calling us to open our home. We did, and fell in love with her! It was wonderful and heartbreaking all in one. But we loved Robin, and the baby she place for adoption, and that experience changed us.
We've been a shepherding home for pregnant women, and we've been stop-over housing for college girls who needed a place to live for various reasons.
This has been fun. It's also been hard at times. Sometimes inconvenient. But it's ministry at home, and this kind of hospitality seems spelled out in scripture. We have room, and this house does not belong to us. (I don't mean it belongs to the bank...I mean God!) All that we have is His, and I notice sometimes we are holding onto it like it's ours. I don't want to do that. It needs to all be for his glory!
So Rusty and I also determined to have our home open for things like HOPE group (our church small groups), Countdown, the marriage prep class we have been teaching for over five years now, and various other things.
But what about EVANGELISM?
Having Robin live here, and other pregnant women, who didn't know the Lord was true evangelism, in it's purest, rawest, most intense form.
But everything else we are doing is in service to believers, WHICH WE LOVE, wholeheartedly believe in, and won't stop doing!
But what about my lost neighbors, that I don't have time to really know and have over because I'm too busy doing ministry?
(One of my neighbors once asked me why we have "parties" all the time? I explained they were Bible Studies. All she knew was that we cluttered our streets with cars twice a week.)
What about the other families that we make connections with through our kids' sports and other events?
What about Rusty's patients that he is witnessing to and wanting to go deeper in relationship with for that purpose?
When do we develop that? When do we have them over? When do we share our lives with them and hopefully allow them to see a difference in us and point them to Christ?
We would...except we're a little chicken...and we're just too darn busy doing ministry. Last year, we couldn't squeeze one more thing into our schedules or it would all explode!
And I realize, I stink at evangelism. I hate it, but it's true. I've shared what Christ means to us to one of our neighbors, and they all know we're Christians, but I don't know where to go next...I don't know what else to do. I realize a big part of it is needing to build an authentic relationship with them that's not there. I need God to train me and equip me more fully for this!
This has been the dilemma in our hearts this summer.
Our lives are crazy, as are yours. Many of you do all the same things we are doing.
Small groups for church, and all the other activities, GREAT things, that go with a busy family.
I don't want to stop doing those things.
But I know we need to make room in our lives for evangelism. That's even messed-up, the way I wrote that. We want evangelism to be the driving force in our lives! We should be sharing the Gospel with the people God has put in our path. I think this is going to take some creative shifting in our schedule. But holy cow! What could be more important?
I would like to see our weeknights more free for hospitable evangelism.
And let me not leave out-FAMILY WORSHIP- and the evangelism in our own home being a top priority as well. We are making little disciples in this house, and that cannot and will not be neglected. When we have people over, they join us for family worship, and my kids always enjoy that! It's fun to include people in our little service in the living room.
Rusty and I are thinking through what things need to go (any of the fluff! Not critical church involvement, obviously!) and also asking God to open our eyes to all of the lost around us that we are missing opportunities with.
I am afraid we are missing a lot!
We are probably not the only family with these questions and quandries. I posted this because some of you may be thinking through some of these same things. Comment with any encouragements you have and what God is showing you as well!


Frank Bennett said...

Thank you for the encouraging and challenging post. From the outside looking in it sounds as though you guys are doing a great job in many areas of evangelism. I know it pleases the Lord that your hearts are open and willing to go even further. I'm sure with your willingness the Lord will bring opportunities your way to share Christ with those around you. I love the idea of developing authentic relationships! I truly believe this is the way Jesus reached many during his ministry hear on earth and that it is the most effective. Like you I struggle with making the time to do this. I am going to make a commitment to have an un-church family over for dinner in the next few weeks. We often get together with our church friends but you have encouraged me to take evangelism more seriously and just do it. No excuses, just do it! (That little cheer was for me:)

Amy said...

Hi Jenn,

I, too, wanted to say that I think you guys are doing a great job at loving people. God has clearly gifted you in hospitality and giving (especially regarding your home). Your love and service to your family and friends constantly challenges me, and I'm often sharing stories from your blog with my husband about your lives. My encouragement to you would be to keep doing the same type of activities you're already doing, just include more non-believers in them. For example, if having families over to your house for dinner is the way God has gifted you...maybe have a night a week that you invite a neighbor, patient, or family from your kids' sports events over. Involving our friends in our everyday life is the most powerful way we share the love of Jesus here (well, of course it's a little easier for us to do things with non-believer friends since that is who ALL of our friends are) :). But either way, I think we try to make it more complicated than it really is...or maybe we just care too much about what man thinks of us. As for your feelings of fear and felt need to have more training, I can totally relate. But I want to encourage you that you are already gifted and equipped to share who Jesus is to you and are already doing so in very effective and powerful ways with your life and through your family. Jesus said it best: "Let your light shine before men so they will see your good deeds AND praise your Father in heaven."
~Mt. 5:16

Marcus and Meg Asby said...

See, this is why I love you.

-Every girl at LHBC wants to BE you.
-Your take great care of your family and husband.
-You're an awesome teacher/discipler.
-There's even a facebook group dedicated to you and your awesome family.

And STILL you examine your life for places to grow in love and obedience.

Thanks for the challenge. :) And I KNOW the Lord will put people He's saving in your path. So cool that we get to be a part of that . . .