Four Ways to Evangelize in the Age of Unbelief

 
Matt Chandler | April 12th 2018

In a post-Christian, post-modern, post-everything world, God’s people are called to not operate out of fear, but to operate out of courage. But given our increasingly hostile cultural landscape, what does making disciples, namely evangelism, look like in this era? And how do we go about it? I think you’ll be surprised by where we end up, though you probably shouldn’t be.

Evangelism looks like hospitality

As we walk couragely in our cultural climate, evangelism will look like showing hospitality. Don’t hear me say that hospitality is the sum total of courage or evangelism. But don’t miss me saying that living courageously will involve living hospitably.

If hospitality doesn’t sound exciting or initially feels confusing, that’s because the idea has been hijacked by popular culture. But when the Bible speaks of hospitality, it almost always ties it to aliens and strangers—people who are not like us. If I had to come up with a biblical definition for hospitality, I’d say it means to give loving welcome to those outside your normal circle of friends. It is opening your life and your house to those who believe differently than you do.

Hospitality is all over the Bible. In fact, it’s so important to God that when Paul lists out the traits necessary for a man to be qualified for the office of elder in a local congregation, we find that he must be, “Above reproach, the husband of one wife, soberminded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach…” (I Timothy 3:2).

To be an elder, a man has to be able to open his life and show kindness to those who believe differently than he does? He has to open up his world to those who are outside of what he believes and what he senses? Yes. This is serious. It really is.

Now why would the Bible be so serious about hospitality? Well, if I could just boil it all down to its most simple truth, it's because God has been so hospitable to us. Even when we were living as his enemies, God came and saved us. He opened the door and invited us into his presence. We demonstrate that we truly appreciate the divine hospitality we have received as we extend our own hospitality to those around us.

I’m not suggesting that biblical hospitality is the silver bullet for making evangelism work in the 21st century (news flash: there is no silver bullet). But might it not be, in our cynical, polarizing, critical, dumpster-fire culture, that a warm dose of welcoming hospitality will take some folks by surprise and open up the door for opportunities to make disciples of Jesus Christ?

Hospitality is opening your life and your house to those who believe differently than you do.

Four ways to show hospitality 

How do we show hospitality today? It’s not complicated—though that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

  1. Welcome Everyone You Meet
    Literally, I think the best thing to do is greet everyone you see. That’s an easy thing to do if you are wired like me—I’m a Grade-A Extrovert. That’s hard if you’re an introvert, and right now you’re thinking, “Can we just go to number two, please?” But often the best things to do are the hardest things to do. Pray for grace, ask for strength and, well, greet people.

  2. Engage People
    Remember that everyone you meet is eternal. You have never met a mere mortal, and you have never met someone who does not bear God’s image. So care about and take an interest in those you run across. I don't think this is overly difficult. It simply needs us to be asking open-ended questions, letting our inner curiosity out. You may think this is all obvious—but often we hold back from doing it. You need to get to know people, take an interest in them, listen to them rather than just trying to think about how you can say something memorable or hilarious.

  3. Make Dinner a Priority
    The Bible, over and over again, talks about the holiness of eating together. Long dinners with good food, good drink, good company and good conversations that center around our beliefs, our hopes, our fears—that's a good dinner. The Bible says that's holy. Oh, and I don’t mean dinner with friends, by the way. Yes, eat with your church small group, invite over your good friends, but remember that hospitality is to give loving welcome to those outside your normal circle of friends. It is opening your life and your house to those who believe differently than you do.

  4. Love the Outsider.
    In every work environment, every neighborhood, there are people who, for whatever reason, are kind of outliers. These men and women are all around you—perhaps more so than ever, in our globalized world. Because of the way sin affects us, we tend to run away from differences and from being around people who think differently and look differently than us. But I want to lay this before you: Jesus Christ would have moved towards those people. God extends radical hospitality to me and to you. That’s why we love the outsider; because we were the outsider.

It all starts with courage

I’m convinced that Christian courage probably looks more like inviting a group of strangers into your home for dinner than the attractive, successful ideas we have dreamed up in our minds.

These sorts of things actually require courage because they force us to rely on the Lord and His strength—and not our own. When we open up our homes and build friendships with those who don’t look like us, believe like us or act like us, we open up our lives and make ourselves vulnerable. We risk getting hurt and making enemies with those who don’t think the way we think or act the way we act. Yet we can do it because of the hope, strength, and yes courage that we get from the Lord!


 To read more about Christian hospitality in the age of unbelief, get hold of Matt Chandler's new book Take Heartavailable now

Matt Chandler

Matt Chandler is the Pastor of The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas. The author of Explicit Gospel, Take Heart, and The Mingling of Souls, Matt also serves as President of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network. He is married to Lauren and they have three children.

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