There is a saying that is often voiced when we speak of reaching people for Christ. It goes like this: “People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.” The point is that we can teach and preach all we want, but if people feel misunderstood, unloved, and unaccepted, then our witness will be severely hampered, no matter how eloquent our preaching or how reasonable and true our teachings.1
This leads to the simple idea of hospitality. Hospitality includes the areas of acceptance, welcoming, openness, caring, generosity, kindness, and friendship. These qualities all have to do with the way that God would have Christians relate both to one another and to those whom they seek to reach for the Lord.
Read the story of the demon-possessed man in Mark 5:1–19. What did Jesus tell this man that illustrates the principle that friends are more receptive to our sharing the gospel? How can we learn to apply this principle in our own work of personal witness and ministry?
Jesus could have directed this man to go back to his town and tell everyone about his healing experience. The fact that the Lord specifically directed him to seek out his friends underscores the truth that those with whom we already have relationships are the most receptive to the good news that we want to share about His love, grace, and deliverance. Those friends would then share the exciting news with their other friends, and so the gospel message goes forward.
Important to this whole process is that we have friendships outside of our circle of believers. Because many work out in the world, they will naturally have many acquaintances, but acquaintances are not close friends. However, acquaintances can become friends through what has been called hospitality evangelism, and hospitality evangelism flows out of a hospitable lifestyle. In other words, hospitality evangelism is not something that is turned off on occasion; rather, it is the way we live. (See also Luke 14:12–14.)
In what ways could you be more hospitable to those around you? How can you learn to be more willing to give of yourself in order to meet the needs of those whom you are seeking to reach?