Shared by Kim Shockley
As a Church Vitality Strategist moving throughout the Annual Conference, the question I hear most frequently is – how do we get more people to join us? Until now, there wasn’t a practical resource that helps to answer this question. Phil and Eddie have provided this book as a “how-to” guide for relationship building that will provide the understanding and practical application of putting ourselves in the right places at the right times to plant seeds of Christian community and hospitality.
The foundational idea of this book is Incarnational Hospitality. “The incarnational part refers to simply being the presence of Christ in someone’s life: that is, being a conduit of the love of God to someone else, and allowing that person to witness the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through our lives.” (p. 11) “The hospitality part of this is the act of making room or space for someone in our lives, accepting them as they are, loving them as they are, getting to know them deeply through the sharing of their story, and letting them get to know us deeply through the sharing of our story.” (p. 11 – 12)
Contrast this idea with Relational Evangelism, where the premise is that we make relationships with people so that we can bring them to Christ and help them become members of our church. To me, this is agenda-driven relationship building. Incarnational Hospitality says that we become like Jesus for others so that we can share our lives and stories together. For Relational Evangelism to happen the other person becomes transformed to the expectations of the church. Incarnational Hospitality seems to indicate that we are transformed so that we can be Jesus with others. This is a powerful shift in the way we do church today. We build relationships for the sake of the community and God’s Kingdom building work.
I’ve already started to share incarnational hospitality with my neighbors. We come from a variety of religions (and non-religious) traditions, but we enjoy each other’s company and we are gathering together so that we can talk about the good things we see in our daily lives. Right now, this is the good thing in my life and an expression of incarnational hospitality!
Several people from the Western North Carolina Conference have been trained as trainers for CONNECT! Right now you can order copies of CONNECT! (Black cover for leadership planning) and CONNECT! (White cover) for individuals and small groups at http://emc3coaching.com/store/.
Contact me if you want to know more: Kim Shockley, firstname.lastname@example.org, 407-276-5114.