By Paul Wilkinson
Keep in mind, as you read this, that we advertise our groups as starting at 8, 9:30, and 11 a.m.
If we are to be serious about hospitality and outreach, then we must be present in order to receive, love, and engage guests.
I was reading an article about the importance of punctuality. The author listed numerous reasons why being punctual is important:
- Being punctual strengthens and reveals your integrity. (Think of time commitments as promises made.)
- Being punctual shows you are dependable. (The visitor can count on you being present in their time of need because you were there to receive them in the beginning.)
- Being punctual builds your self-confidence. (Teaches you to depend on yourself to follow through on commitments.)
- Being punctual reveals your discipline. (We must organize and focus.)
- Being punctual shows your humility. (They are more important than we are.)
- Being punctual shows your respect for others. (We are in it for the kingdom.)
- Being late is a form of stealing. (People wait with time they can never get back; moreover, we must not steal glory from Jesus by misrepresenting Him as not being “on time.”)
- Being late disturbs the experience of other people. (We mustn’t ever take the focus off Jesus by distracting others.)
- Being late strains your relationships. (We must elevate the value of receiving our guests that the Spirit has brought.)
You do not necessarily need to do all of this yourself. Take the need for punctuality as a challenge to empower some of your members to leadership. Develop a rotation schedule where at least a few people will be “on time” every week if you cannot do it yourself.
We must come to understand ourselves as Christ’s ambassadors. Part of that is that we are on time to receive those the Spirit has brought to us. George Washington’s secretary arrived late to a meeting and used his faulty watch as an excuse. Washington responded, “Then you must get another watch, or I another secretary.” The Lord has chosen you to represent Him: to lead others in the Word, to lead others in fellowship, and to lead others in outreach. May they never arrive to find us missing!
By Paul Wilkinson
Daniel Im has recently published a book entitled No Silver Bullets. His major point is that there does not exist a “singular fix” for ministry woes, whether they be spiritual growth problems, discipleship problems, etc. So instead of wasting our time looking for the silver bullet that will remedy ailing ministry, we ought to be instituting micro-shifts that will change the culture little by little.
Im’s 5 micro-shifts are:
- From destination to direction
- the idea is that discipleship is not a function of achievement and information, rather discipleship is an ongoing process of movement toward the person and work of Christ.
- From output to input
- the idea is that the discipler needs to focus less on the outputs of attendance and numbers, rather focusing instead on the small inputs we can have today in people’s lives that will begin to move them toward the image of Christ tomorrow.
- From sage to guide
- the idea is that instead of transferring data from our minds to the minds of those we are discipling, we should be leading them on the path of discovery of who Christ is and how the Spirit works in our lives; we should be engaging them in experiential learning rather than lecture only.
- From form to function
- the idea is that we should be focusing more on the function of our learning environments, for example being in biblical community and loving one another, more than the actual form used for achieving those ends, for example whether one runs a traditional Sunday School or an off-campus missional community.
- From maturity to missionary
- the idea is that we, as believers, are necessarily kingdom people who should be about the work of kingdom expansion, and towards that end, it is often the case that being confronted with the difficulties of engaging the lost will compel us to seek our own growth.
I share those micro-shifts with you, not because of their content or because I fundamentally believe in them all, but to give you some idea of how the framework functions. Take the output to input micro-shift, for example. Maybe what it looks like in your group is less teaching a set of lessons on the spiritual disciplines to the 40 people in your LIFE Group and more like taking 5 folks from your LIFE Group to engage with by meeting with them outside of class regularly for a period of time and modeling for them how you read the Bible, how you pray, how you fast, how you memorize Scripture, etc.
When it comes to hospitality, perhaps you could begin by dedicating yourself to being in your classroom early for a month or two and receive the first, second, and third set of people that show up. Overwhelm them with hospitality to demonstrate to them what it looks like. Then, in subsequent months, challenge those individuals to be the first ones there to receive other people. So, instead of trying to create a full value shift in the group in one fell swoop, take the micro-shift approach of leading by example for a few weeks and empowering group members who you engage to emulate you. You can do that tomorrow! And the same goes for outreach, group reproduction, missions, etc.
If we were Superman or the Hulk, then we could simply leap a mile at a time. Church work is not like that. It is more like hopping 1 foot at a time until the 5280 feet are covered. I’m blessed to be hopping with you for the sake of the kingdom!
If you want to hear Daniel Im talk about his book, check out this podcast.
By Paul Wilkinson
Michael C. Mack challenges general understandings of hospitality as mere caregiver, instead arguing for a radical outreach paradigm in search of strangers to love through our caregiving.
So, not only will increased hospitality in your groups, generally understood, provide a place for visitors to stick due to warmness, invitation, and geniality, but teaching Mack’s model of biblically informed hospitality can empower and compel your group members to seek the lost and searching in their sphere of influence.
I strongly encourage you to read the entire article (it’s rather long) even if you need to read it across multiple days.