Sunday, April 9, 2017

Evangetality, Jim Ozier

[As we get ready to welcome the families of the Homework Club and take hold of this vital outreach opportunity, let us consider again our call to evangelism and hospitality, or evangetality.]
At last year’s School of Congregational Development, Olu Brown, pastor of Impact Church in Atlanta, wowed the crowd with his portrayal of “scout evangelism,” remembering his high school days riding home on the bus after the football game. When the team busses would stop for the after-game fast-food meal, one guy would run in and check out the restaurant for its hospitality and ability to accommodate dozens of hungry players. If satisfied, he would go back to the door, swing it open wide, and with a big wave say, “C’mon in!”
“You see,” says Olu, “the restaurant didn’t have to impress everyone — just the scout who then brings others in; great hospitality motivates people to bring others with them.”
What is the relationship between hospitality and bringing in new people? The relationship between hospitality and evangelism can be seen in Jesus’s imperative: “Come, follow me, . . . and I’ll show you how to fish for people” (Mark 1:17). Throughout the New Testament we see what it means to follow Jesus, this loving man who welcomed children, reached out to the marginalized, and invited all into a relationship of covenant, fellowship, and community.
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2). Luke points to the powerful connection between evangelism (reaching and relating to “outsiders”) and hospitality (welcoming and a shared meal).
As Robert Schnase observed, “Jesus radically challenges the disciples’ expectations by overstepping boundaries to invite people in. Hospitality has us seeing people as Jesus sees them and seeing Jesus in the people God brings before us”.
To “follow Jesus” is to be hospitable! It is to welcome, invite, reach out, and treat all—especially the stranger (outsider)—with loving respect. For the church, it means creating a culture that mirrors the character and life of Jesus.
While it’s important to welcome and love one another, we’d be remiss if we forgot hospitality’s original purpose: loving the outsider.  Jesus asked Matthew, “And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matt 5:47). But showing love to outsiders—now that is a differentiator! That begins to set God’s people apart from others and becomes Christian community instead of a churchy clique!

 So…If hospitality is truly the key, here are three helpful principles that tie hospitality to evangelism:
· Principle #1. If we follow Jesus we’ll be hospitable like he was . . . and we’ll fish like he did too!
· Principle #2. Fish first in the pond you know best.
· Principle #3. Fishers who love to fish love to fish in new waters, too!
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