17 Of My Favorite Quotes From “The Simplest Way To Change The World: Biblical Hospitality As A Way Of Life” by Dustin Willis and Brandon Clements

IMG_0558

Here are 17 of my favorite quotes from “The Simplest Way To Change The World: Biblical Hospitality As A Way Of Life” by Dustin Willis and Brandon Clements

Too dependent on the mega church?

Can you imagine the power of the church in which ordinary members knows what it means to be filled with the Spirit of God and led by the Spirit of God? God’s plan to glorify Himself in the church never consisted of platformed mega-pastors, cutting-edge-art, or expensive buildings. The real power in the church is found in the Holy Spirit moving through ordinary people as they carry His presence into the streets. p. 12

Can we change the world from our home?

But what if I told you that you could actually change the world, right from your home? If you desire to join God’s mission but have no clue what that looks like in normal life, we have good news for you. You already have access to the ultimate game-changing secret weapon that will transform the way that you think about your life as part of God’s mission. The secret weapon for gospel advancement is hospitality, and you can practice it whether you live in a house, an apartment, a dorm, or a high-rise. p. 19

Put the grill at the front of the house

I (Dustin) have been amazed by how the simple act of rolling my grill to my front yard (not the backyard) and grilling burgers has effectively allowed me to meet neighbors, hear their stories, share our lives, and point to truth. I’ve never printed flyers or sent out mailers. I’ve simply heated the charcoal and watched people show up. One of the most ordinary things we do every day is eat a meal at our homes. We do this small act with intentionality and usually with other people, and we simply watch the Holy Spirit bring about the significance. p. 22-23

God loves to use the ordinary

If we are ever going to join all our lives to God’s mission to change the world, we need to reclaim all of our ordinary pieces as part of that gospel mission. We will have to reject the notion that something has to be big or unusual to be significant. We will have to view the ordinariness of our lives as significant and allow God to use our homes as a seed to be planted and grown, not something to be discarded or devalued. p. 24

IMG_0562.JPG

Our homes are a weapon for the gospel

Thinking about our homes in this way is a wonderfully freeing concept. As it turns out, we have a more fulfilling and rewarding purpose for our homes than using them exclusively for our benefit and comfort. Instead of thinking of them only as a personal refuge, they can be opened as spiritual hospitals for the hurting around us. Instead of being an oasis of self-interest, they can be transformed into a weapon for the gospel, a four-walled tool to wield in God’s cosmic battle against sin and evil. As we do this, we become the type of counterculture that puts God’s generosity on display. p. 24

What in the world do you mean when you say ‘Biblical hospitality?’

The Simplest Way To Change The WorldAt it’s core, the practice of hospitality is obeying the command in Romans 15:7 to “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you.” It’s receiving others into our lives-into relationship and, yes, even into our homes. It welcomes Christians as a way to walk in the truth that we’ve been made family through the gospel, and it welcomes non-Christians in an attempt to model and extend the gracious invitation we’ve received from God in Christ. p. 26-27

I’m an introvert so I don’t have to do this hospitality thing!

Half of all people identify as introverts, so if you are one, we realize you may be thinking, Yeah, but I really can’t practice-I don’t want to practice-hospitality because I’m an introvert. It would be too draining. Please do not read this book thinking the message is, force yourself to be an extrovert because of the gospel! Please don’t let your personality type be a barrier to living out a god-ordained calling that is actually tailor-made to suit your personality type. I understand that introverts get the rap that they don’t like people, but that’s not true. We just like people in smaller, quieter doses that our extroverted compatriots do. I have found that inviting one person (or a couple of people) to my house where they enjoy quality time together, have a good conversation, and experience a volume level that never gets too stressful is actually totally my speed (and completely fits the bill of hospitality!). p. 31-32

Hospitality won’t happen by accident

We cannot haphazardly live out hospitality. We must pursue it intentionally, and frankly, it needs to be calendared. Having people in my (Dustin’s) home for a meal or a game night or to watch a big game tends to happen only if my wife or I put it on the calendar. p. 35

IMG_0566.JPG

How is social media impacting us?

Though social media is a wonderful tool with many redeeming qualities, it is also a perfect breeding ground for this ability to be “connected” without really being connected in the truest sense. We can craft our images carefully and interact with the carefully crafted images of others, but oftentimes the depths of knowing others and being known are impossible to reach via these online interactions. And even though many of us are addicted to our devices, people are starving for the depth that comes from real, in-person relationships. p. 59

Hold up! I want to change the world by scolding it!

When feeling threatened by the culture changing around them, many Christians assume a defensive posture-and this is the simplest way to not change the world. Many resort to the relational equivalent of yelling at a driver who just cut them off, or they become touchy or overly combative (all in the name of “defending the truth”). This combative, aggressive stance may feel like the best path to stand up for the things that we believe in, but much of the time it fails the “speak the truth in love” test Paul gave us in Ephesians 4.  p. 60-61

IMG_0569.JPG

Eating the body of Jesus or eating a burger?

Think about it: are we more likely to convince our neighbors to come to a church service where we symbolically drink the Savior’s blood and eat His body, or to eat a burger on the patio? p. 64

Why practice hospitality in the first place?

By the simple act of opening your door you are joining in on what God is doing to heal the planet and welcome prodigal sons and daughters back into his family. You are turning your home into a wartime hospital where the spiritually hurting can get hope and care they need. p. 67

IMG_0567

What if your house became known as “that house?”

Imagine this: what if your house (or apartment, etc.) became known as “that house” in your neighborhood? What if your home became a little bright spot in your community, that when people walk or drive by your door, their heads turn a little and they start to wonder what’s different about you, because you don’t seem to think about your home the same way everyone else in the neighborhood does? p. 72-73

Um, my house is kinda messy so I can’t do hospitality

In reality, you inviting others into your messy house is actually a beautiful act of vulnerability. It’s letting them see that you are a busy, imperfect human that does not live in a glass house. This is actually more hopeful than bringing them into a spic-and-span environment, because their house is probably messy too. The good news of the gospel is that our homes or our meals do not have to be perfect-we are free to be real humans who have messes and burn casseroles. p. 83

I just simply can’t add something else to my busy schedule!

You don’t need to add another task to your already-busy schedule. Instead, think like a missionary when living out your normal, everyday activities. p. 94

IMG_0564

Get off the couch and go outside

This may come as a newsflash, but your neighbors don’t live in your house. So if you never leave your humble abode, you’ll never meet any of your neighbors. They are not going to bust up in your living room and introduce themselves, and if they do you should call the cops ASAP. p. 97

How do you get to the gospel?

The end goal of hospitality is not that you simply host people in your home as much as you use your home as a place to display and speak the gospel. Paul, who repeatedly pointed us to the practice of hospitality also boldly proclaimed his desire to be valiant about the good news of the gospel: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for everyone who believes: (Rom. 1:16). Clearly the aim of hospitality is more than merely inviting someone into our home, sharing a meal and a few good stories, and calling it a night. We are missionaries, after all. Paul reminded us, “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us” (2 Cor 5:20). And pastor Charles Spurgeon said, “Every Christian…is either a missionary or an imposter.” p. 119

Is hospitality the most overlooked qualification for an elder?

I recently posted an excerpt from Tim Chester’s book  “A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community, and Mission around the Table”. To make it simple, it was all about the importance of hospitality. That got me thinking. Why don’t we hear much talk about hospitality when it comes to the qualifications of elders?

It’s not that hospitality is never mentioned in Scripture.

1 Timothy 3:2, “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach…”

Romans 12:13, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”

Hebrews 13:2, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

Titus 1:8, “…but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.”

1 Peter 4:9, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

In fact, I don’t think I have ever heard someone ask this question in regards to a person being qualified as an elder, “Does Jim open up his home to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ to strangers?”

Why? Here are a few of my hunches…

  • I believe the fact that we don’t talk much about elders living lives of hospitality reveals that we honestly don’t value it very much in our churches or in our leaders. This is a rather obvious deduction to make but I think it is helpful just to be painfully honest.
  • We think of an elder as a leader who oversees what happens inside the church building. We are living under an old, unbiblical paradigm whereby ministry only happens in the church building or during a programmed event.
  • We may see our homes exclusively as a refuge from the world, not a place of ministry.
  • We think hospitality is a spiritual gift that someone else has and therefore we are off the hook.
  • Hospitality is not even on our spiritual radar because we have not seen someone model it for us.

To reach our culture with the love of Jesus Christ we are going to have to embrace the biblical mandate to live as people of hospitality.

Your thoughts? What are some other reasons you think hospitality is undervalued in our churches? What can we do to change it?

Have we made evangelism and hospitality too complicated?

dinner table

Over the past few months I have been asked a number of times about my opinion when it comes to how the church should do evangelism. One of my main responses has been that I believe we have over-complicated what it looks like to show the love of Jesus Christ to people all around us. I am not one to throw all “programs” under the bus. Programs have their place in the life of the local church. Yet I do think Jesus has modeled for us that there is no substitute for opening up our life, spending time with people and building relationships (Luke 7:34). With that said, allow me to share with you a quote from the book “A Meal With Jesus” by Tim Chester. Instead of making your life busier I hope this encourages you to see that evangelism can take place in the rhythm of everyday life.

Jesus didn’t run projects, establish ministries, create programs, or put on events. He ate meals. If you routinely share meals, and have a passion for Jesus, then you’ll be doing mission. It’s not that meals save people. People are saved through the gospel message. But meals will create natural opportunities to share that message in a context that resonates so powerfully with what you are saying. -Tim Chester, A Meal With Jesus

A Les Miserables Description of Hospitality

valjeanIrony. We have worked so hard at making our church services welcoming and friendly yet our homes have become bunkers whereby we attempt to shield ourselves from the concerns of the world. Until this changes we will make little impact in our culture for the kingdom of God.

With that said, I was completely blown away with this powerful description of hospitality while reading Victor Hugo’s book, Les Miserables.

“Monsieur Cure,” said the man, “you are good: you don’t despise me. You take me into your house; you light your candles for me, and I haven’t hid from you where I come from, and how miserable I am.

The bishop, who was sitting near him, touched his hand gently and said: “You need not tell me who you are. This is not my house; it is the house of Christ. It does not ask any comer whether he has a name, but whether he has an affliction. You are suffering; you are hungry and thirsty; be welcome. And do not thank me; do not tell me that I take you into my house. This is the home of no man, except him who needs asylum. I tell you, who are a traveler, that you are more at home here than I; whatever is here is yours. What need have I to know your name? Besides, before you told me, I knew it.

The man opened his eyes in astonishment:

“Really? You knew my name?”

“Yes,” answered the bishop, “your name is my brother.”

A Simple Vision For Church

-Need to pay proper respect to Hugh Halter and Matt Smay authors of “AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church”

What exactly are we trying to do or be as a church?

We gather on Sunday mornings for preaching, singing, communion and shared testimony. Does this Sunday gathering define who we are? We gather in smaller groups Monday through Saturday for Bible study, prayer, fellowship and mission. Does this network of gospel-centered relationships define who we are? The answer is that we are both. In Scripture you clearly see both.

Church gathered:

“On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.” -Acts 20:7

Church scattered:

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” –Matthew 5:13

There does not need to be any confusion about which we are trying to become. Instead, we simply want to be obedient to what we see in the pages of Scripture. We are both.

What will this “both” church look like? How does “gathered and scattered” work together?

Because we are the family of God (Ephesians 2:19), we are immersed in relationships with one another throughout the week making disciples of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:16-20). As a church family we love one another like crazy in many sacrificial ways. But these relationships are not merely for our own edification. Because we understand our gospel identity, because we are driven by the redemptive story of God we are bringing the gospel to bear on every area of our life (home, neighborhood, school, work, and world).

The result is that as we live together on mission during the week, people are slowly being introduced to the gospel. People will begin to join our weekly gatherings. The gospel will spread, through our relationships, into every area of our life. The gospel will have a viral impact in our our neighborhood, city and around the world. We have to stop and honestly ask; do our hearts yearn to see this happen?

People may join our church for a number of reasons (our church is close to their home, they like our corporate worship or Children’s Ministry, etc…) But don’t miss this; over time we will see people who have been impacted by our relationships during the week who begin to join our corporate gathering. This happens because we live into our identity as missionaries in everyday life!

What is the end game? Where is this leading us?

The dream is not merely to see how large our church can become, rather to plant new churches so that the gospel can continue to spread into new communities and neighborhoods. This is a picture of a church that exists for more than its own interests. This is a picture of a church that is more than an institution. This is a picture of a church that understands it is a movement of God’s redemptive love in a hurting, broken world.

Interview with Gloria Furman-Author of “Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home”

Tell us a little about yourself and your family.

momWe moved to Dubai in 2008 to help start an evangelical church planting movement in this region. Dubai is a major city in the United Arab Emirates, a country that sits on the Arabian Peninsula just north of Saudi Arabia and across the Arabian Gulf from Iran. My husband Dave pastors Redeemer Church of Dubai, which was planted in January 2010, and helps coordinate other church planting efforts. When we landed on the sizzling tarmac five years ago we had one child, and now we have four (#4 due next month).

Describe what happens, spiritually and emotionally, to a mother who does not see the redemptive work of Jesus Christ in the mundane activity of daily life.

Speaking from my own experience, what this looks like for me emotionally is a burnt out, bitter frustration with everything—God himself, the season he has placed me in, the people he has placed around me, the things I’m responsible for, and the everyday circumstances that I deal with. Spiritually, this is a recipe for disaster. I’ve experienced flippant apathy toward prayer, evangelism, Bible reading, service, and participation in fellowship among other believers.

What are some practical ways a person can stay focused on Jesus and his ongoing work in everyday life?

This is a great question! We want the affections of our heart to be enamored by the person and work of Jesus. Then, temptations toward distraction are pushed out the heart by the expulsive power of a greater affection. Practically speaking, I think the spiritual disciplines are of tremendous help (especially in a busy home life!), and our conscious dependence on the Holy Spirit in these efforts is a guard against our tendency toward legalism.

What would you say to encourage stressed out, busy people to open their homes and show hospitality to their neighbors?

I’d say, in short, that God has designed showing hospitality to be a blessing to you and your neighbors even in the midst of your stress and busy-ness. The joy we receive in opening our homes and serving with the strength God supplies is joy in Christ himself. There’s much more to be said about hospitality and how God enables us to serve; I’ve expanded on this in a chapter dedicated to hospitality in Glimpses of Grace.

In your book, Glimpses of Grace, you write that the routine of everyday life provides us with an opportunity for spiritual growth and transformation. Can you explain what you mean by that?

To get the answer to this question go HERE and download the first chapter of “Glimpses of Grace” for free.

What are some books that have encouraged you when it comes to a greater understanding of the gospel?

A couple of my favorite contemporary books on the definition and application of the gospel include: God is the Gospel (Piper), Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (Packer), Gospel for Real Life (Bridges), Comforts from the Cross (Fitzpatrick), What is the Gospel? (Gilbert), A Gospel Primer for Christians (Vincent)

Gloria’s Website

Gloria’s Twitter

To buy “Glimpses of Grace”