Real Life Hosting: When Hospitality Meets Reality

I have a friend who has spent much time in our home.  We would invite him over quite often before he was married.  He always complimented us on the meal and the company.  One day he said to us that he wanted to be invited over sometime for leftovers and without the house being cleaned.  He loves us, and we love him, but he knew the difference between our real life and our acts of planned hospitality.

It was his desire to be “just part of the family”, and that meant the family with all of its messes and “refrigerator leftover buffet”.

It has been hard for Joanne and I to invite people into our home unless we have had the opportunity to make everything ship-shape.  Over the years we have loosened a bit on this, but we struggle with this still.

I recently had someone send my a blog post by Jack King an Anglican Priest from Knoxville, Tennessee.  In this post King quotes one of his earlier sermons on the topic of “Scruffy Hospitality”.  In this message he says:

“Scruffy hospitality means you’re not waiting for everything in your house to be in order before you host and serve friends in your home. Scruffy hospitality means you hunger more for good conversation and serving a simple meal of what you have, not what you don’t have. Scruffy hospitality means you’re more interested in quality conversation than the impression your home or lawn makes. If we only share meals with friends when we’re excellent, we aren’t truly sharing life together.

Don’t allow a to-do list disqualify you from an evening with people you’re called to love in friendship. Scheduling is hard enough in our world. If it’s eating with kind, welcoming people in a less than perfect house versus eating alone, what do you think someone would choose? We tell our guests ‘come as you are,’ perhaps we should tell ourselves ‘host as you are.”  Jack King-

In the blog post, King goes on to unpack “Scruffy Hospitality” in a more in-depth manner.  I encourage you to click here to go and read his post on the topic.  It is well worth the read.

Where Does Everyday Mission Take Place?

In this week’s discussion on Everday Mission we are going to address the question of “Where does everyday mission take place”?  In their book  “A Field Guide for Everyday Mission” authors Ben Connely and Bob Roberts, Jr. give a number of good answers, but I would like to share in this first post the thoughts I shared in a previous post I wrote entitled “Discipleship at the Kitchen Sink: The Art of Regular Hospitality.  Here is that post again:

I have said for a long time that “discipleship happens at the kitchen sink.”  I believe this to be true for our children and those God has arranged to cross our path on a regular basis.  It is in the rhythm of ordinary everyday life that God brings about extraordinary changes in the lives of those we walk life with.  While we wash dishes and do yard work God provides the opportunity for us to share the fabric of our faith with others.

I learned many years ago as a young youth pastor that it was hard to sit across from a young person and get them to open up to you.  If you, however, were active in some pursuit with them they would open up to you.  This pursuit could have been throwing a football, shooting hoops, washing dishes, setting up for an event, raking leaves for a senior or anything other of a million things we could do together.

I remember when I realized that was true with friends as well as my youth group.  It was while cleaning the kitchen with a friend that I was able to enter easily into a spiritual conversation.  In the flow of an everyday activity, I was able to intertwine a discussion on this person’s view of God and his involvement or seemingly lack of  involvement in their present situation.  This simple conversation was a springboard for a season of heart to heart discussions that would make us both grow in our understanding of God and his place in our lives.

I know that this information may not be revolutionary to some who read this, but for others, this kind of ordinary life conversation is something yet to be experienced.  For those on either end of the spectrum I think that there is one thing that we need to master to make sure that we don’t miss out on a single opportunity to deepen the spiritual richness of our relationships, and that is the art of hospitality.

I believe that hospitality, while a natural gift for some, needs to become something that we all work towards.  I feel this is a lost art that needs to be restored to and through the Body of Christ.  I feel that Joanne and I have or at least have been able to develop the gift of hospitality.  We love to have people in our home, and yet there has been a dry season of entertaining and sharing life with others in our home.  What has caused this season?  Simply being to0 busy.

I recently read an article by Jeff Vanderstelt, an old friend from my youth ministry days.  In the article, Jeff addresses the lost art of Gospel Hospitality.  He gives this very unique and interesting definition of Gospel Hospitality:

“In light of the Gospel, we might define hospitality as the creation of a space that allows people to BE themselves, to BECOME renewed, and to DO the works God has saved them for. When we properly exercise hospitality, we welcome people to be themselves in the warmth of the light of Christ, to become renewed by being changed by the work of Christ, and to do works we have been created for in Christ.”

This definition and the article as a whole has given me much to think about.  I will write more later, but I encourage you to click  here to read the complete article by Jeff on the Gospel Centered Discipleship website.


Following up on my last post I thought it would be helpful to show the video above.  I have shared it before, but I thought it is well worth the 2 and a half minutes for all of us to hear these words of wisdom again.  Enjoy and ponder!

The Natural Pace and Path of Our Lives-When Does Mission Happen?

There is a phrase that I have been using a lot lately, especially in my writing.  That phrase is “in the natural path and at the natural pace of our lives.”  What proceeds this phrase usually has something to do with us being on mission, or reaching out to, or being salt and light to those God has placed around us.  These words are not meant to be just a pithy phrase we can throw out there to not make everyday mission seem so bad.  They are words that represent the true heart of Christ for the life that he presents us with and that he desires us to live.

I am truly convinced that if we are living at a pace that is healthy and Christ-centered, and if we are living where God desires us to be, then we can have ministry as a natural part of our lives.  Most of us would say that we are living where God wants us or where he has planted us.  On the other hand, I am not so sure that most of us would say that we are living at a pace that is healthy, natural or according to God’s plan for us.

I know that our family struggles with the pace of our lives.  There are many seasons when we are simply too busy, or try to fit more into life than we should.  It would seem unreasonable that I or anyone else would ask you to add more to your already busy life.  Even the thought of adding Kingdom focused caring to our schedule seems wrong.

That is why if we are going to  see mission fit into our everyday lives we will need to make sure that those lives are functioning as they were intended to function.  I am not asking you to fit more into your already busy life; I am asking you to take a hard look at the pace and rhythm of your life.  If you feel that there is no margin in your life to be on mission for God, then I would suggest that you consider making some changes.  Not changes that would simply add more to an already busy schedule, but changes that would allow for mission to be a part of the natural rhythm and pace of your everyday life.

Let me give you one example of what I mean.  I was challenged a few weeks ago at the meetings I was at in Tacoma.  The challenge was one that I have been given before by my good friend Hugh Halter.  The thought is that we have 21 meals a week that we take part in, and one good way to involve others in our life is to commit to spending three of those meals entertaining others.

These meals are times that should be a natural part of the rhythm of our lives, yet most of us would cringe at the thought of trying to include others in three of these meals.

I know this has often been the case for us.  What this tells me that we are living at a pace that does not allow for mission to be a part of our everyday lives.

Homework:  For your homework this week I want to encourage you to pay special attention to your schedule, your life rhythm and the pace of life this week.  Write down what you do each week and make some observations about the pace at which you live.  If you find that it is out of balance, begin to brainstorm about what changes might need to happen.  Be blessed as you do this.

What Do Everyday Missionaries Do?-Part 2

There are many ways to answer the question of what everyday missionaries do.  In their book “A Field Guide for Everyday Mission” authors Ben Connely and Bob Roberts, Jr. give a few different thoughts on this issue.  The List _ things that they see that a person on mission will be about in the daily exercise of partnering with God on His mission.  The things they list are:

  1. Everyday Missionaries See the Big Picture
  2. Everyday Missionaries See the Ground Level
  3. Everyday Missionaries Rearrange Their Lives For the Sake of Others
  4. Everyday Missionaries Grow in Love for Others
  5. Everyday Missionaries Rely on God the Spirit (The Holy Spirit)

I was challenged by all of the points made in this section of Connely and Robert’s book.  I think it will be helpful for me to push us on the issue of the “Big Picture” quality of missionaries at work.

Connely and Roberts say the following about the stories tied to our mission field:


Everyone has stories. Some are personal; many are shared with others. One person might be traumatized by an auto accident, but an entire community might mourn the loss of a beloved neighbor. A raise might impact a family, while excitement at their baby’s birth ripples through their extended community. Each of our mission fields are filled with stories, some personal and some corporate. Everyday missionaries learn the stories of our mission fields for two reasons. First, stories help display worldviews, values, and beliefs. Second, stories show points of rejection or connection to the gospel. What do we listen for as we hear stories? Here are a few elements:

-What’s this person’s/community’s history?
-Where do they find their identity?
-In what do they put their hope?
-What are “wins and losses” this person/community has faced?
-What wounds exist?
-What are they hardened to?
-What do they love?
-What do they spend time and money on?
-What does this person/community value?
-In what ways are they indignant; in what areas do they feel entitled?

These questions are good ones for us to consider.  Take some time this week to ponder on these issues.  Take notes or keep a journal on what you discover. Don’t assume that you know the answers, though you might.  Keep an open mind and pray that the Holy Spirit will give you a clear vision.

What Do Everyday Missionaries Do?-Part 1

I just arrived home last evening from a week away.  While there were a few days of visiting family in Portland, the reason for the trip was ministry related.  I was attending the second of four meetings with fellow pastors and leaders from our North American Baptist family.  These meetings are worth the time and effort due to the relationships I have experienced, but there is an added bonus as well.  The bonus is that each time we are together we are visiting a ministry that is evolving and finding fruit with regard to being on mission in the context that they find themselves.

This last trip was the one that I had been waiting for.  We were gathering in Tacoma, Washington at one of the neighbourhood churches of Soma Tacoma.  Soma until recently has been under the leadership of Jeff Vanderstelt.  I have known of Jeff for many years and have enjoyed watching what God has and is doing through him.  I was not disappointed with our time.  I was sufficiently challenged during the time with Jeff and the team that is now giving leadership to Soma.

As I sat down to begin writing this post, I was reflecting on what we experienced last week.  I was amazed at the degree to which Jeff and his Soma community were on mission to their neighbourhood(s).  The truly were about the mission of God where God has planted them.  One thing Jeff mentioned was “Mission is inviting those who need Jesus into our everyday life.”  They are all about living with people who are in need of the gospel and then finding opportunities on the natural path and pace of life to present them with the Good News of Jesus.  If we are living to bring glory and honor to God in every moment of life then all we have to do is invite those in need of Jesus into our everyday life.

As we live our everyday life, trying to serve Jesus and at the same time become more like Him, we will have countless opportunities to share the gospel.  Jeff said it this way:

“Every time you live out an attribute of Christ you create a metaphor for sharing the story of the gospel.”

His point with this comment was that when you treat people with the love and respect of Christ, we will be given opportunities to explain why we would do such a thing and this will be accomplished through sharing a snippet of the gospel story.  We will be able to tell people of the God we have been changed by and the work that He has called us to in bringing hope to a hurting world.

I will write more for Thursday’s post about what an everyday missionary does, but for now consider how to go about the task of “Inviting those who need Jesus into our everyday life”.  If you do this you will be well on your way of doing what an everyday missionary does!

Did the Holy Spirit Nudge You?

Well, did you do your homework?  Did Jesus open your eyes in a new way to those around you?  Did you feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit with regard to some in the natural path of your life?  I hope you genuinely prayed for this and that you were open to the Lord working as you asked Him to.

If you did you may have noticed people in any of a number of areas of life.  In their book “A Field Guide for Everyday Mission” authors Ben Connely and Bob Roberts, Jr. list a number of different places that you may have noticed “everyday mission field” people in the natural path of your life.

  • Your workplace or school
  • Our literal neighbours
  • The marginalized in our society
  • The world: both here and there
  • Our families

The above list may surprise you a bit, as I asked you to think about those in the natural path of your life.  You may think that the marginalized and the world, here and there, may not seem in the natural path of your life.  They may very well be, depending on where God has planted you.

I must say that when I first saw the list above I was a bit shocked, but then I prayed that God would open my eyes and heart to what he wanted me to see.  He did just that and over the last few days.  He has shown me the marginalized that I pass every day in different contexts that I would have never said were on my natural life path but they are.

I also have come to a new understanding of the natural path of my life and how it is not restricted to the few miles I travel each day around Leduc.  I realized after praying today that over the last three days I have had a connection with dear friends in Ethiopia and Europe numerous times this week.  Some of those connections have been with believers, but a few have been with those in dire need of the gospel.

Now I ask you to do the same thing I did in the last post.  Please pray again that God would open your eyes even more as you pray for those around you.

Question 1: Who is My My Everyday Mission Field

I recently had a well-meaning person tell me that they appreciated my work in Africa.  I was excited to hear this, but then they continued.  “I am glad to see that you DO have a heart for missions” were the next words out of their mouth.  I was not suprised by this comment, but more saddened.

We have for too long designated the Church’s work overseas as missions and the work at home as discipleship.  I am not sure what neighbourhood you live in, but mine is as much, if not more, a mission field as is Africa.  This week in our look at the idea of everyday mission, I want us to be reminded of this.

I want us to be ever mindful of the fact that the mission field, our mission field, is made up of those in need and those who God has placed in the natural path of our lives.

In the book of James Jesus’ brother himself tells us “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world“ and “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well.”  James 1:27 and 2:8

Over the next few days take a serious look at where you spend most of your time.  For most of us, if we don’t count our sleeping time, we spend most of our time at home or school/work.  Keep a track of how much time you spend where, and keep your eyes open to those who are around you.  I mean really open your eyes to see the people.  Not the people that you always talk to or hang out with, but the people that are there that you may not know much about as well as those you are connected with.

Ask Jesus to allow you to really see people and their needs.  Make a conscious effort this week to connect with someone that God lays on your heart as you pay attention to those around you.

Pay close attention to the nudging of the Holy Spirit with regard to those around you, and then act on the nudging.  I find that when I do this I am always glad I did. I am sure you will find the same!

Have a blessed week as you tune into the what God is doing and wants you to do.

The Six Big Questions

I am a news hound.  I have always loved  watching the news to keep up with what is happening in our world.  While I like the news, I often find it very frustrating.  I am amazed at how often I will watch a news story and in the end have no clue what the story was about.  I often have more questions at the end of the story than I did before I heard it.  Quite often I find that the reporters do not answer the fundamental questions that the general viewer would have.

In their book “A Field Guide to Everyday Mission: 30 Days and 101 Ways to Demonstrate the Gospel” Ben Connelly and Bob Robert’s Jr. the authors’ desire is to help those desiring to me missionaries in their neighbourhoods answer the most important questions.  The questions they want their readers to answer are:

  1. Who is my everyday mission field?
  2. What does an everyday missionary do?
  3. When does everyday mission happen?
  4. Where does everyday mission happen?
  5. Why should I even care about everyday mission?
  6. How do I share the gospel without killing the relationship?

Over the next ten weeks, I want to unpack these questions very carefully and thoroughly.  These questions may seem very simple, and maybe some are, but answering them is only part of the solution.  The other part of the formula is learning to put the arrived at answer into everyday practice.

We will seek to address these questions with a particular focus on our context of Leduc, Leduc County and the other locations where God has planted our LFC community members.

I want to make sure that we as a community at Leduc Fellowship wrestle with these questions and put our faith into action.  As we are studying through the Gospel of Mark, we have and will see the hope that the Gospel brought into the world as Jesus “moved into the neighbourhood”.

Next week, I will begin to unpack the six questions above looking at one question each week.  As we prepare for the journey ahead please be in prayer about these six questions and the four vision questions in the previous post.  Don’t try to answer all of the questions just begin to feel the freedom to ask the questions.

 “Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?”   James 2:14-17 The Message


Vision Questions For Every Neighbourhood Missionary

Before we get to the official “Five Questions” for every neighbourhood missionary, we want to look at some bigger picture, vision based questions for those who want to be salt and light to the neighbourhood.

The first question, one that is so obvious that it might easily be overlooked, is “What is a “Neighborhood Missionary”?  I do not want to assume that we all have the same level of understanding and/or acceptance of what God is calling us to.  At the same time, I hope that for most this is not new information.  I feel very strongly that God has called his followers to be a community of people on mission where ever he has called them.  This calling includes our families, schoolmates, teammates, coworkers, and yes, our neighbours as well.  We are called to be salt and light wherever God has planted us, but I think we need to reclaim our neighbourhoods as an obvious place that God desires us to shine forth for him.

All that said, a neighbourhood missionary is one that acknowledges their God given call to love those who cross their natural path of life in the natural rhythm of life.  So the first important question we need to answer is “Do we acknowledge and accept the call of God in our lives to be on mission  for and with him?”  I believe we need to be able to answer this before we can move forward with knowing how to care and love our neighbours.  I am not sure that most of us have really wrestled with this question.

There are a number of other big picture questions that I think are foundational to the calling to be on mission with God.  Some of those are:

  • Am I actually called to make disciples?
  • Can I even make friends outside of the Church?
  • What does it look like to share the gospel today?
  • What does it look like to live out the mission of God in my everyday life and at the natural rhythm of my life?

As we begin this journey let’s start by focusing on these foundational questions.  Take some time over the next few days to reflect on these questions.