At Agape, our contemporary protestant chapel service at US Army Group Humphreys here in Korea, we often discuss our priority of building missional communities. Put simply, missional communities are Christians building communities with neighbors with the mission of fulfilling the Great Commission–preaching the Gospel and making disciples of King Jesus.
During my deployment to Poland, I read Rosaria Butterfield’s book, The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World. Butterfield’s story is captivating. She was a tenured professor of English and women’s study at Syracuse University from 1992-2002. She identified as a lesbian and worked to advance LGBT objectives alongside her lesbian partner.
While repeatedly reading the Bible in large portions for her research, Butterfield converted to Christianity. She said she “lost everything but the dog,” yet gained everything in Christ.
In The Gospel Comes with a House Key ($8 on Kindle), Rosaria recounts how God used a humble and faithful Christian couple’s simple invitation to dinner to draw her—a radical, committed unbeliever—into a relationship with himself. Butterfield demonstrates that “radical, ordinary hospitality” can effectively bring the gospel to our lost friends and neighbors. A missional communities mindset enables us to rightly see that our homes are not our own, but instead, they are God’s tools to advance his kingdom “as we welcome those who look, think, believe, and act differently from us into our everyday, sometimes messy lives.” When we consistently invite them into our homes, we help “them see what true Christian faith really looks like.” This practice is true Christian hospitality. It’s understanding that our homes are entrusted to us to steward them for the King. Today, Rosaria and her husband Kent, a pastor, reside in North Carolina, and they put their words into action.
What does this look like in practice? Rosaria explains it in her book (which is definitely worth reading). But if you don’t have time, I’ll explain how my wife and I endeavor to live out this radical hospitality. We welcome neighbors, acquaintances, and families into our homes on Monday nights for a meal, fellowship, and Bible Study. We also invite neighbors, colleagues, and families into our homes every other Friday night. When you examine the early church, they focused on three key things: prayer, breaking of bread (sharing meals), and studying God’s Word (Acts 2:42). It’s the time-tested method and right foundation to build real relationships with people that provide opportunities to fulfill the Great Commission.
Sharing your house keys or opening your home (and your lives) requires time, energy, resources, and sacrifice. But your commitment is obedience, and it’s an offering to God that will bear a fruit of eternal significance. Effective missional communities demand a real commitment to love our neighbors. And when we do, God blesses that obedience.