Homes of Hope Summit

I had never been to a conference about the ministry of hospitality. I have been to evangelism conferences, church growth conferences, prayer conferences and Sunday School conferences, but never a conference on the ministry of hospitality. I had never been to a conference encouraging the body to be obedient to the command of God to "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." 1 Peter 4:9 [NIV] and "Get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner." Romans 12:13 [Living]

I had never been to this kind of meeting until now. This past weekend I attended the second annual Homes of Hope Summit held at Jindabyne, New South Wales, Australia. It was amazing. (Homes of Hope is the name they have given for people participating in a hospitality ministry.)

For the left-brained, in-a-hurry, give-me-the-summary types, let me distill it down. 65% of the people who attended last year reported enjoying seeing at least one baptism as a result of their ministry this year. One individual saw nine. Several of those nine are now involved in the Homes of Hope ministry. 

Let that sink in. Have you ever been to an evangelism conference that approached those kind of results, where 65% of the participants actually won someone to Christ and saw them baptized the next year? Amazing.

I remember when I first heard of Homes of Hope. I knew it was an incredible idea the moment I heard of it. Now, three years later I am even more impressed. I am more impressed than ever that if we can encourage people to love people in common, ordinary, pedestrian ways, their heart will warm up to a message about a God who loves them. But, if we just tell them about a God who loves them and they don't feel our love, the results are modest at best. If we will be their friend, their heart will warm up to a message about what a friend we can have in Jesus.

The stories these people told were amazing. Most of the conference was about letting laymen tell their stories about how they were getting it done through the ministry of hospitality. All day long, in time blocks of 30 minutes or an hour, laymen got into small groups and swapped stories about the multi-faceted ministry of hospitality. Car clubs and knitting groups and dinner outings and free babysitting and movies and the stuff of life done in community. They brainstormed, problem-solved, bragged, complained and just told the truth about what is really going on as they attempted to give Friday nights to Jesus.

Conferees brainstormed their ministries

Here is one testimony about what Homes of Hope means to one participant:

I am so excited with this program.  I have had one person baptized, and I have another about to start the study to be baptized.  I have held dinners, bbqs, went to the beach, with my target people and my church friends.  I have one family who had left the church for several years, now attending regularly since November.  I have another woman attending regular since December.  I have four more attending occasionally. I have given instruction in vegetarian cooking, had two of my targets join ministries at church, baby sat for one, provided shelter, and make myself readily available.  I am truly enjoying my "role" in the Homes of Hope program.  Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of it.  I am so looking forward to my next six months. I quite often just invite people back to my house for lunch after church or if they aren't available, I invite them for another day.  My primary gift is hospitality and I am so fulfilled with this program.  I believe my Spiritual life has been so strengthened with this program.  Keep up the great work. Lesley Davidson
 

Some of their stories are contained in newsletters and other info at the Homes of Hope web site: www.homesofhope.net

In reflecting on my involvement in the Homes of Hope movement, I am concluding that the three trips I have taken to Australia have had more kingdom impact than all of the hundreds of meetings I have done in between. How could I make such a statement?

It is all about teamwork

My host's name is Rob Steed. One of his areas of expertise deals with personality types in the workplace, using the Team Management System. The premise of this personality system is as simple as it is profound: people's personality in the workplace can be different from their personality elsewhere. The system breaks personality styles down into 8 categories, using the following diagram as a model.

Starting with the light green "Creator/Innovator" we find the ultimate dreamer/visionary/big picture guy. This is me. I believe we can take America (and Australia and the world) for God by giving the ministry to laymen who use their gifts to grow their groups to double their classes every two years or less. We can do it though half-way decent teaching--you don't have to be Chuck Swindoll to pull this off--and by inviting every member and every prospect to every fellowship every month. I believe this and cast this vision to churches every week.

But, that is where it stops with me, casting the vision for doubling groups and leaving it to the local team to see it work. I do my best work when I team up with others on the wheel--Assessor/Developer, Controller/Inspector, Reporter/Adviser, etc. Rob is an Assessor/Developer par excellence, and is doing his work on a country-wide basis. He is setting up a whole support system for people who are doing the ministry of hospitality and it is picking up steam.

Homes of Hope Conferees discuss their ministry.

The Homes of Hope strategy is about identifying people who are gifted at doing a hospitality ministry and supporting them with a national strategy designed to give them what they need to be successful in their ministry. The support includes:

  • A budget of $1000 per year (paid by the national convention (Union), Association/State (Conference) and the local church. It is expensive hosting parties. Rob told of a couple of recent events at his house that mushroomed to 20 or 30 home for lunch after church. This can get expensive.

  • Training.

  • Encouragement.

  • Networking.

This is classed Assessor/Developer stuff. They take an idea and put legs on it.

If you want to make the Double Your Class strategy work in your setting, find a good Assessor/Developer and turn them loose. The Assessor/Developer may be you. Here are some ideas:

  • Identify your hospitality people. At a minimum, we need a list of who will be involved in the hospitality ministry. The teachers teach classes. The evangelists show up for visitation. The singers sing. We need to know who the ones with a gift for hospitality are. Often, it is not the teachers.

  • Cast a vision for them.

  • Train them.

  • Encourage them

    • Perhaps a regular newsletter.

    • Perhaps a monthly "How is the ministry going?"/ "We sure value you." phone call

    • Perhaps a quarterly party hosted by the Pastor or Minister of Education where those with the gift of hospitality can share their victories and struggles. Let them brag a bit. Let them cry. Take their struggles seriously and find solutions. If I were a pastor I would put a star by this one and make it a priority to do at least 6 times a year.

  • Consider supporting them financially. With compensation comes accountability. All of those in the Homes of Hope Ministry don't take the financial support, but for those who do, it is a real God-send. And, it sends a strong message that we take this stuff seriously. Hospitality is not just a good idea presented by an American presenter every three years. It is a primary strategy of loving Australia until Australia comes to know the love of God.

Is it working? In spades. And Rob, the consummate Assessor/Developer is developing a whole system that only makes it happen, it is able to demonstrate the effectiveness of this strategy. Again, 65% of those involved last year enjoyed at least one baptism this past year. That is incredible. I have always had a hunch we could see incredible results as we make this thing work. Now, with the right support, it is more than a hunch.

 


Dr. Charles Stanley

We recently had the privilege of hosting Josh Hunt for our mid winter Sunday Morning Bible Study leadership conference. The emphasis on investing and building relationships is the key to reaching our society today. Fellowship is premium in a world where we face an epidemic of loneliness. People are looking for more than a "friendly" church. They want a place where they can grow and develop lasting relationships that will assist them in building a biblical foundation for life. If you have not had the opportunity to have Josh Hunt in your church or attend one of his conferences, make plans to involve your leadership. His concepts will make a difference in your thinking about how simple it really is to reach out to people.

Sincerely,

Charles F. Stanley
Senior Pastor First Baptist Church Atlanta


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