Social events strategically designed to mix members of the “religious ranks” and the “renegade ranks,” or, as they’ve become known around our church, “Matthew Parties,” can take virtually any shape or size. They’re usually designed to fulfill a modest purpose: to provide a neutral setting where contagious Christians can make low-key contact with non-Christian friends. These are ideal environments for strengthening existing relationships as well as cultivating new ones. And they’re great places to plant some spiritual seeds and strike up conversations about matters of faith.
Wheels may start turning that can, over time, result in a whole new eternity for many of the people you’ve invited. You’ll be surprised by how quickly some of them will open up and take significant spiritual steps in the direction of Christianity. Let’s look at some examples:
Golfing Events
I know some people who organize golf clinics and outings for this purpose. They use them simply to deepen their friendships with unchurched acquaintances, though, to their surprise, one time a woman they’d invited ended up praying to receive Christ right there at the driving range!
Holiday Parties
Russ and Lynette, a couple from our church, annually host a fourth of July party at their home. They invite just about everyone they know — Christian and non-Christian — for the dual purpose of having fun and exposing their unbelieving friends to believers. They set up grills and outdoor games in their backyard, along with a big awning and some tables and chairs, and just let people roam freely in and out of the house. The most spiritual thing they do is have contemporary Christian music playing over the stereo. But by the end of the day, some strategic friendships have been started, and a lot of lost people have seen Christians enjoying themselves and interacting with others. A number of them have also received a warm invitation to visit one of our church’s weekend services. Contagious Christianity is friend-to-friend, person-to-person, neighbor-to-neighbor. The plan is biblical, it’s logical, it’s strategic, and it was proven by Jesus, Paul, Matthew, and many others since. — Becoming a Contagious Christian (Bill Hybels and Mark Mittelberg)