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
Homes of Hope Summit
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
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.
Some of their stories are contained in
newsletters and other info at the Homes of Hope web site:
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
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
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.
Perhaps a regular
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.
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.
Charles F. Stanley
Senior Pastor First Baptist Church Atlanta
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