“Radically ordinary hospitality shows this skeptical, post-Christian world what authentic Christianity looks like.”
- Rosaria Butterfield (The Gospel Comes with a House Key)
For most of us, the shift into the cold and rainy fall season means a shift in our day-to-day life style. Our barbecue dinners out on the patio in the cool of the summer evenings transition into hot bowls of soup around the kitchen table. Our night time bonfires move inside into the fire place, and burn throughout the dark and drizzly day. And Sunday afternoons are no longer highly competitive rounds of corn hole and croquet, but shouting matches at incompetent football coaches or referees. (You’re on the goal line, Pete…give the ball to Marshawn!)
While the all-American backyard barbecue seems to offer a great opportunity for getting together, I’ve found that summer travel plans and house projects can make connecting with people difficult, and rather the rhythmic schedule of fall provides some of the easiest and best opportunities for building relationships with people. And I’m not just talking about your friends (although for some this may be a good starting place), I’m referring to your actual neighbors. Take this quick test: see if you can recall the first and last names of the people who live to your right, to your left, and across the street. Do you think you could point them out in a crowd? Could they point out you?
I think, far too often we vastly overcomplicate the Christian faith. We get hung up on theological debates, Church politics, parenting styles, or evangelism tactics, so much so that we can often wind up missing the whole point of why Christ partners with us in His redemption of the world. There’s an iconic quote in the education world about how teachers should interact with students: “they won’t care about how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Care for people. Invite them into your home and your life – not as projects, but as people who are loved by the Father the same as you and I. See if you can build real, intentional relationship with them.
I am convinced that one of the most powerful ways to build and maintain relational connection with people (especially non-Christians) is simply to have them in your home, around your tv or dinner table. Nothing shows quite the same amount of honesty and vulnerability as this. For most people, their homes are seen as their safe places, or at least private. It’s why we knock before just walking though someone’s front door. However, choosing to forgo the norm, and inviting someone into this space for an afternoon, can be the catalyst for how we bring Christ’s joy and love into someone’s life. It won’t happen all at once, but in tiny, bite-sized conversations. Our job is simply to start these conversations, and this is the time of year to do it. “Hey we’re carving pumpkins tonight! Why don’t you bring the kids over and we can do it all together?”, “What do you mean you haven’t watched Rings of Power yet?! Ok, tomorrow night, my place, episode one.”, “Hey, we’ve got a big pot of soup on and the world’s most comfortable couch. Why don’t you come by in an hour and watch the game with us?” Keep it radically ordinary. Nothing fancy – no big event or high-pressure situation, just simple food and football. Who knows, with consistency and patience, it may lead to something great.
Brady Backstrom – mBridge Director of Operations