Equipping Your Reimagine Journey
I believe that this article gives words to things we intuitively know, but maybe reluctant to acknowledge. It gives us a creative perspective on the "Love2020" or the author's "Zip Code Presence" strategy, and the in-road to emerging generations, who crave relationships that are not formed or nurtured primarily through traditional or outdated institutions.
It also invites us to question our assumptions about the effectiveness of a single approach for hospitality/evangelism, whether it is prayer evangelism (according to Luke 10 teaching by Ed Silvoso), adopting a lifestyle of pray-care-share (according to LOVE2020), or making disciples (i.e., spiritual multiplication through Cru's "win-build-send" methodology).
Regardless of what approach we use, hospitality/evangelism that is culturally sensitive -- being humble without being too humble -- works best. In fact, when George Barna and David Kinnaman, the authors of Churchless, asked pastors and church leaders to share what is working to connect with unchurched people in their surrounding communities, Michael Hildago, pastor of a growing church in urban Denver offered this: "Listen to them. I just had someone tell me, 'I never feel like I'm a project when I'm at your church.' Rather people feel embraced and, more importantly, understood, because we do all we can to listen. The key, of course, is loving the churchless for who they are rather than what they can offer our church... Seeking to genuinely hear and understand someone leaves no room for ulterior motives, and it sometimes does open the door to deeper conversations about faith and Christian community."
I see this as a clear and basic explanation for the road we're on (present) and direction we're headed (future). So I would ask each of you think about how Love2020 and our Pray, Care, Share initiative applies to an emerging generation that is no longer loyal to the institutional church. Because the Church, as the bride of Christ, can only truly make herself ready for her Bridegroom by making authentic and lasting places for those in our communities with whom we connect.
When Paul wrote that love is “the more excellent way”–that it “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things”–and that it is greater than faith or hope, he was doing all he could to say it is the sum of all. And when this kind of authentic love saturates us, we cannot imagine not loving, and we lose interest in trying to decide when, where, how, to what extent, and whom to love. In fact, we realize that the most soul-wearying thing we can ever do is to be the self-appointed managers of God’s love. So, we see Christians in Acts loving–loving regardless, loving anyway, loving nevertheless. Theirs was not a knee-jerk, unconsidered love, but rather it was a Spirit-anointed love made possible by grace. It was a love marked by radical hospitality.
That's why I am grateful for the way the author of this article shifts our focus from front door hospitality inside the church building to those who live in the community! We just cannot underestimate the value of having people at the front doors of our homes, businesses, schools, restaurants, hospitals, law offices, etc.—who can bless people and make them feel welcome. That sounds a lot like the way of Jesus —pursuing a life that is deeply soulful, connected to our real needs and good news to our world.