Wear Out Your Welcome
Ryan and I have officially worn out our welcome. The "welcome" word on our mat, that is. Yesterday, Ryan noted that the welcome mat at our front door was faded and shredded. You couldn't even read the multi-lingual "welcomes" on it. As usual, our perspectives on this mundane domestic development were almost as far apart as the political views of Mary Matalin and James Carville.
My immediate reaction: that's terrible, we need a new one! Our house is a mess!
Ryan's immediate reaction: that's awesome, we are so hospitable! Our house is full of people!
It's not often that I like Ryan's perspective better, but in this instance, I'm willing to part with my opinion.
It's true, we have worn out our welcome. And I think that's awesome. Here's what I'm learning. Discipleship and hospitality are closely connected. I used to think that hospitality was about teacups, doilies, and properly set tables. That's definitely a dimension of it. But at its core, hospitality is about inviting people into safe places to encounter the dangerous message of the Gospel. It's about creating environments where people can experience the presence of God. Isn't that the most important thing we can do as disciple-makers?
Dave Gibbons described his mentoring strategy at the Willow Grouplife Conference: whenever someone asks Dave to mentor them, he tells the potential young padawan that they must come live with him. Makes sense to me. If discipleship is about "imitate me" and "doing life together," then let's do it.
If you are a small group leader, disciple-maker, mentor, pastor, here's my challenge to you today: invite people into your life by inviting them into your house. For dinner. Dessert. Games. Movies. Karaoke. To help you pack for your trip. Don't just invite them in when the house is prepared for guests. Invite them in when it bears the marks of life. Wear Out Your Welcome.