Jesus often ate with unsaved people. He ate with unsaved religious rulers, and He ate with tax collectors and sinners—the unsaved social outcasts. He related to people over breaking bread and displayed the trait later in the New Testament called “given to hospitality.” There is no shortage of examples in Scripture of people opening their homes and their dinner tables to welcome people desperately in need of the Saviour. Nothing brings down barriers like a shared meal. Hospitality is a requirement for pastors (1 Timothy 3:2) and is vital to the health of a church. But how can you encourage this practice in your church?
Organize Neighborhood Fellowships around Special Events in Your Church
People are naturally thinking about spiritual matters around Christmas and Easter. In the days leading up to these special services, ask families in your church to host a neighborhood fellowship. Place one or more nights on the church calendar and make it a church-wide event.
Make it Easy for Your Church Members to Participate
Print attractive invitations that your host families can customize and give to their neighbors. Offer the use of the church’s folding chairs and tables. Even suggest a menu for the fellowship—anything that can help the hosts.
Help Pair Families Together
Team up a long-time faithful family with one that has been recently saved. Together, they bring a lot of energy and experience to the evening. They will encourage each other.
Keep the Setting Casual
Have some food, play some games, and keep nice Christian music playing softly in the background. This isn’t the time to hold a service in your living room with a forty-minute sermon. However, be open to witnessing to a guest if the Spirit is making it clear they are ready to be saved.
Offer a Gift and Invitation to Church at the end of the Evening
Essentially, you want the church families and the people in their neighborhood to get to know each other. The neighbors need to know that they have someone they can go to and have a church with loving people. End on a positive, generous note by giving a gift and an invitation.