A disciple of Jesus is for their city, for their neighbors, and loves the people around them. On October 31, there will be no Children or Student Ministry at the church because we want to provide an opportunity to show the love of Jesus to the people around us by having our Lights On and Doors Open. With Halloween comes mixed emotions on whether or not to celebrate the chance to dress children up in adorable costumes or to fight against the recognition of the darkness of our world. What we want to do this Halloween is to encourage all disciples of Jesus to show the love and hospitality of the Gospel.
At Century Baptist Church, we believe a disciple of Jesus knows the Gospel, applies the Gospel, and speaks the Gospel at all times. The Gospel is the good news about what Jesus Christ has done to reconcile (or restore) sinners to God. The Gospel should fuel our desires and our actions to love those around us in a selfless manner.
As disciples of Jesus, we actively follow him and imitate him. We model our lives after the life that Jesus lived. When we look at the life of Jesus, we see his love for God and his love for God’s people. If we claim to be disciples of Jesus, our lives should mirror the attitudes and practices of Jesus’ life. Jesus loved all people, no matter the color of their skin, their profession, their life of rebellion, or their marital status. As believers, fellow heirs of God’s Kingdom, we know the love of God. It was displayed for us on a cross. The message of John 3:16 should flow profusely through the veins inside our redeemed bodies and propel our hands and feet into action.
Jesus ultimately proclaimed the love of God in his death on the cross but also displayed it in his day to day life. Jesus was a friend of sinners. He was someone who showed hospitality and love to the poor, the marginalized, and the outcasts. He never said he was too busy or rushed to close his garage door before a neighbor might walk by and talk to him. He was not swayed by the political status or the affluence of an individual, but instead he looked at the deepest need of each individual, the need for forgiveness and restoration found only through the Good News of Jesus Christ, the saving grace found in the Gospel.
There is no person, no neighbor to which the Good News of the Gospel does not apply. Being fluent in the Gospel doesn’t entail just speaking the Gospel but seeing every person as someone in need of the Gospel and worthy to hear the Gospel. Wednesday, October 31 is an opportunity to not only share the Gospel but to show the Gospel to the strangers who come to our doorsteps. We show the Gospel by practicing strategic hospitality.
Pastor John Piper references Romans 12:13 in a sermon on hospitality, which says, "Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality." Literally it says, "Pursue hospitality." Piper continues, “And the verb implies continuous action. So the command in Romans 12:13 is that hospitality not just be a once a year thing at Thanksgiving or Christmas, but a constant attitude and practice. Our homes and apartments should stand constantly ready for strategic hospitality—a readiness to welcome people who don't ordinarily live there.” Piper continues, “The ultimate act of hospitality was when Jesus Christ died for sinners to make everyone who believes a member of the household of God.”
We’ve been shown the ultimate act of hospitality, a grand display of selflessness through the redemption of our souls through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Out of the overflow of our love and thankfulness to God for this mercy, we should love our neighbors well by practicing hospitality on Oct 31.
Listed below are some ways that we can practice showing the Gospel, sharing the Gospel and being strategic in our hospitality to our neighborhoods.
- Be bold!
• Invite anyone and everyone that you can: including those who look differently from you.
• Door Hanger Invitations- you can pick these up at the Info Desk, fill in your information and hang them on doors in your neighborhood to invite people.
• Read this blog post on “Strategic Hospitality” by Desiring God: https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/strategic-hospitality
- Be a great host/hostess!
• Keep it simple by handing out candy or by having a party in the garage with chili and apple cider- you decide what your night looks like!
• We don’t want to cause stress or push the false idea of perfectionism upon any one of you - but we do encourage you to go farther in your pursuit of hospitality. Splurge a bit if you so desire!
• Join this Facebook group to keep yourself inspired and informed: https://www.facebook.com/groups/lightsondoorsopen/. Let's share ideas and pray for one another!
• Browse this Pinterest board to get the ideas going: https://www.pinterest.com/kostmel/lights-on-doors-open/. You will find both simple and elaborate ideas!
• Yard Signs--also available at the Info Desk, these are for you to place in your yard to welcome people the night of.
- Be present.
• Eliminate distractions like TV and cell phones - instead play music, have games to play, and most importantly, engage in meaningful conversations! Get to know the individual in your home or in your garage.
• Here’s a list of questions and topics: Conversation Starters
• Be a good listener: Your neighbors will know if you’re not listening or if you’re not genuinely interested in what they have to say.
• Share a little about yourself but don’t dominate the conversations!
- Be joyful!
• If you’re going to participate, please do it because you want to! Don’t do it if you think it’s a chore or a task on your to-do list. Your neighbors will know if you truly have the joy of the Lord in your heart by the way you treat them, speak to them, and ultimately how you love them!
- Be prepared to share the Gospel if the opportunity arises.
It can be summed up in four words: God, Man, Christ, and Response.
• God: the creator of all things. He is perfect, holy, worthy of our attention, our worship, and will punish every person for their sin.
• Man: all people, though created good by God, have become sinful by nature. From birth, all people are alienated (or separated) from God, hostile (opposed) to God, and subject to (under the authority of) the wrath of God.
• Christ: Jesus Christ, who is fully God and fully man, lived a sinless life, died on the cross to bear God’s wrath (punishment) in the place of all who would believe in him, and rose from the grave in order to give his people eternal life.
• Response: God calls everyone everywhere to repent of (to turn away from) their sins and trust in Christ in order to be saved.
• For more info check out: https://www.9marks.org/answer/what-gospel/
Above all, don’t forget that the deepest need of any person on this earth is the need for forgiveness and restoration found only through the Good News of Jesus Christ. While it’s not guaranteed that you’ll have neighbors come to know Christ on this evening, remember why we do what we do as disciples of Jesus. The basis of our lives, our actions, our motives should be rooted in the fact found in 1 John 4:19 which says, “We love because he first loved us.”
As disciples of Jesus, let’s make the most of this night and go love our neighbors well with our Lights On and our Doors Open.
If you have any questions, please contact one of our NextGen Team members
(Jason, April, Danelle, or Melanie).