Hospitality really,
really
works

We can take America for God by giving the ministry to laymen who are using their gifts to grow their groups to double their classes every two years or less.

We can it do through at least half-way decent teaching and by inviting every member and every prospect to every fellowship every month. We can do it by being obedient to the command of God to offer hospitality:

  • Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:9 (NIV)
  • Get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner. Romans 12:13 (Living)
  • We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth. 3 John 1:8 (NIV)
  • Then he told the man who had invited him, "When you invite people for lunch or dinner, don't invite only your friends." Luke 14:12 (GW)

From time time to time I am reminded: this stuff really works. I just completed 11 out of 12 day speaking tour in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana and heard story after story confirming the idea that this really works.

  • I had a pastor tell me about a conversation he had with his wife. They had doubled the last church they were in and did it in 3 years. He commended that it was through the ministry of hospitality that they were able to get it done. She corrected him. "I am not talking about the last church; I am talking about the last three churches.
  • A lady in the Memphis area said to me that years ago they started a paper class--her and her husband and a list of names. A year later they had 50 attending. They did it through hospitality. She told the story with a big smile on her face. I don't think she was aware that she was smiling. But, as she looked back on that experience, it was one of the best years of her life.
  • A single in Georgia told me that six months ago they started a new singles class with people. Today they have 18. They did it though hospitality.
  • Three teachers in Plano, Texas told me that since I was there two years ago and challenged them to double, they have doubled their classes. To be more precise, one of the three said they had not actually doubled; they had only increased attendance by about a third. They all did it through hospitality.
  • Another man in Alabama said he saw one class grow and reproduce and grow and reproduce and grow and reproduce. He had to use both hands to total the groups he saw come out of that one group.
  • My wife is teaching the college group in our church. We recently had a party for our college group. Predictably, we saw people from the party attend the class. We are having our next party this Friday night.

It is amazing how as we do what the Bible says, as we offer hospitality without grumbling, we can double a class in two years or less. We need to do it, as the Bible says, as a matter of habit. Psychologists tell us about 90% of our behavior is a function of habit. We either get in the habit or we don't do it at all. It is also important that we do as Jesus said, "don't invite just your friends."

Nearly every conference I do someone comes up to me afterwards and says they have seen this work. They may have never heard of me or my plan, but in kind of an accidental way, they have seen this work.

This begs a question: if people everywhere have seen this work, why isn't it working everywhere? Why are we not in the midst of a significant nation-wide revival? Why are 80% of our churches plateaued or declining? There is a hint in the underlined sentenced above. See if you can find it. There are doing it in a rather accidental, haphazard way. They are not doing it systematically, consistently and intentionally.

We get intentional about other things: visitation programs and revivals and Vacation Bible Study. That is a good thing. But, there might be something to be said for getting systematic and consistent about being obedient to the command of God to offer hospitality without grumbling.

I talked to a guy on a plane one time that trains the top real estate agents in the to agencies in the top markets all across the country. He finds the fastest race horses in the real estate business and gets them to run faster. Many agencies know there is more promise in getting the fastest to run faster than to get the rest of the pack to catch up. I asked him, "What separates the the men from the boys? What separates those race horses from the rest of the pack? Do they do different things? Are the more talented? Better trained? What makes the difference?"

"Funny thing about those race horses. They don't do different things than the rest of the pack. They do the same things everyone else does. Everyone knows how to be a successful real estate agent. Success leaves clues. They do the same things that everyone else does, they just do them systematically and consistently. They have reduced being a successful salesmen to systems and checklists. Then, they work those systems and check off the things on that checklist. It is not rock science."

Indeed.

Why isn't my class growing?" you might ask. Consider this list as a sample check list. If you disagree with the list, feel free to adapt it.

Strategy

Action item for checklist

Answer

Teach a half way decent lesson each and every week Have you done any training in the last year?  
Have you been through 7 Laws of the Teacher. This is the single best resource I know on teaching. I have been through it twice and would encourage every teacher to do so.  
Have you been through Disciplemaking Teachers?  
Have you been through Preaching for Life Change, by Rick Warren? (I know it says preaching, but every teacher would benefit)  
Invite every member and every prospect to every fellowship every month? Have you had at least 10 fellowships in the last 12 months?  
Have you invited 90% of the visitors 90% of the time?  
Have you invited 90% of the members 90% of the time? (Announcements in class don't count; our goal is to get the message to the people out of class.)  
Give Friday nights to Jesus Have you developed a specific application of the metaphor of giving Friday Nights to Jesus? It could be Pizza on Sunday or Chinese food on Sunday night, but there needs to be some specific strategy.  
Have you "given Friday nights to Jesus" at least 6 times in the last 6 months?  
Would you describe your plan for giving Friday nights to Jesus as a habit? That is, is it the default. It is the normal thing to do on a normal Friday night.  
Encourage the group toward ministry. Do you have a class president assigned to oversee the overall healthy functioning of the group?  
Do you have an inreach leader assigned to invite every member?  
Do you have an outreach leader assigned to invite every prospect?  
Do you have fellowship leaders assigned to plan fellowship?  
Do all of your team members understand their job and the overall strategy of doubling groups?  
Would you describe your team as deeply motivated about their task and the dream of doubling groups?  
Reproduce your group Do you have specific plans to reproduce within the next 2 years?  
Do you have a leader being prepared to take the new group?  
Do you have a date penciled in to reproduce within the next 2 years?  
Bonus I have read the book You Can Double Your Class in Two Years or Less  
  I have attended the seminar on You Can Double Your Class in Two Years or Less  
  I have been through the video series on You Can Double Your Class in Two Years or Less  

Total Yeses:

   

Here is your grade:

# of Yeses

Percentage

Grade

18 - 20 90% A
16, 17 80% B
14, 15 70% C
12, 13 60% D
Below 11 59% or below F

Regardless where grade, here are two questions:

  • Do you want to double your class?
  • What is your plan for closing the gap?

That is a lot of questions. You can't do everything, so here is what I suggest. Pick out one of two key areas and concentrate on them.

  • Perhaps your plan is to improve your teaching by going through one of the videos listed above.
  • Perhaps you need to get a team together and train them in their tasks
  • Perhaps you need to make plans to reproduce.

Ultimately, hospitality doesn't work. Visitation doesn't work. Plans don't work. Strategies don't work. Methods don't work. People work. God works, and God works through people.

I had someone say to me once, "I love your ideas. I especially love the idea of giving Friday nights to Jesus."

"Really. How is that going?"

"Oh, I don't do it; I just think it is a good idea."

Not surprisingly, his church was not growing.

We can take America for God by giving the ministry to laymen who are using their gifts to grow their groups to double their classes every two years or less. We can do it through the strategy above. We can do it through Christ who strengthens us. We can do it.

Thinking about it is not enough. Agreeing with the ideas is not enough. Successful people in nearly any endeavor have a bias for action. Take action. Get going. Get moving to the glory of God.