Radically Ordinary Hospitality
In today's world, it's easy to doubt we have what it takes to reach our neighbors for Christ. On FamilyLife Today, authors Chris and Elizabeth McKinney debunk that myth and talk with hosts Dave and Ann Wilson about discovering God's purpose for where He's placed us.
About the Guest
- Rosaria Butterfield explains how hospitality can be used as a bridge in, “The Gospel Comes With a House Key.” https://www.familylife.com/podcast/series/the-gospel-comes-with-a-house-key/
- Read “10 Ways to Share the Gospel Without Being Pushy.” https://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/faith/essentials-faith/reaching-out/10-ways-to-share-the-gospel-without-being-pushy/
- Download FamilyLife's new app! https://www.familylife.com/app/
- Find resources from this podcast at https://shop.familylife.com/Products.aspx?categoryid=130.
- Check out all that's available on the FamilyLife Podcast Network. https://www.familylife.com/familylife-podcast-network/
In today’s world, it’s easy to doubt we have what it takes to reach our neighbors for Christ. Chris and Elizabeth McKinney debunk that myth and about discovering God’s purpose for where He’s placed us.
Radically Ordinary Hospitality
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, April 2nd. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I’m Bob Lepine. You can find us online at FamilyLifeToday.com. In a culture, where loneliness and isolation are a reality, Chris and Elizabeth McKinney say, “We have a lot of ministry opportunities that have opened up to us.” We’ll talk more about those today. Stay with us.
Bob: And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. Is it proper to say you are convicted by something if, after you were convicted, you didn’t do anything to change? Do you know?
Dave: Why do ask these—
Ann: Why do you bring up these hard questions?
Dave: —deep theological questions?
Ann: He’s good; he’s going to convict us again.
Dave: You know, Bob, I don’t know; I always do what I’m convicted by—
Bob: Oh, no you don’t!
Dave: —ask my wife.
Bob: No, you don’t.
Dave: She would probably know. No, I don’t; none of us do.
Bob: I’m asking this because, a couple of years back, we had one of our friends, Rosaria Butterfield, as a guest on FamilyLife Today. She had just written a book called The Gospel Comes with a House Key.
Ann: Such a good book.
Bob: It is a great book. It’s all about hospitality. It’s about—as she calls it—radical ordinary hospitality.
Ann: I was convicted by that, Bob, too.
Bob: I was convicted, and I’m thinking that that was two years ago.
Dave: So what did you do?
Bob: That’s the point. [Laughter] That’s why I’m asking. I was convicted, and I don’t know that anything has dramatically changed.
Ann: Wait; so you’re in sin. Okay; keep going.
Bob: So we/so one of the things we asked her about was: “How do you begin the process?”—or what has worked for her? Let me just play back for you guys what she described, that I thought, “That’s a great idea.” It’s one of those things that we still don’t do, and haven’t done, but here is what she said.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
Rosaria: If you want your neighbors to come to Christ, some of your neighbors/their lives are deeply burdened by both abuse and also by addiction. If you want people, who are struggling in those areas, to come to your home for dinner, for example—issuing an invitation three Tuesdays from yesterday doesn’t help very much—because you know, quite frankly, they don’t know if they are going to be sober or safe that day.
But simply saying, “Hey, every Thursday night, we’re going to have an open house.” By open house, I mean, here is what we do; because we do this every Thursday night. I cook soup and bread—not very glamourous—if you don’t like it, bring something.
Dennis: Now hold it; hold it. Is it minestrone soup?
Rosaria: Sometimes it is; that’s one of my favorites because—you know what?—it is cheap, and it is easy. [Laughter] I cook soup and bread. Neighbors come in; and then at a certain point, the children gather the plates; they go up to the sink. And then the Bibles and the coffee cups come out. It’s not an open house in that we’re going to talk about politics; it’s not an open house in that we’re going to talk about plummeting housing values. At some point, the conversation is going to switch. We’re going to bring our conversation to Jesus so that Jesus can enter into the conversation—not to stop it—but to deepen it.
Bob: I hear that again, and I think—
Dave: I’m convicted, Bob.
Bob: —“That’s genius.” You’re convicted that we/Mary Ann and I should have people over at our house.
Dave: No; I’m convicted that we should.
Dave: I mean, like you said, it’s like, “Wow!” You hear that, and you are inspired.
Bob: Yes; it’s what we’re talking about this week.
We’ve got some friends, who are joining us, to do this. Chris and Elizabeth McKinney are with us on FamilyLife Today. Guys, welcome back.
Chris: Thank you.
Bob: The McKinneys live in Columbia, Missouri—been on staff with Cru®/Campus Crusade for Christ® for 20 years—you are focused, now, on how to promote ministry/evangelism in the community, not on the campus. I mean, there is great stuff going on—on the Mizzou campus—but you guys are focused on Columbia, and Jefferson City, and that whole area. You’re focused on your neighbors, not just as a part of your ministry, but as a part of your life.
Have you ever thought about, like every Tuesday night, dinner at your house?—soup and bread.
Elizabeth: You know, I haven’t; I love that Rosaria does that. I think neighboring—it’s not a one-size-fits-all; it’s not a cut and paste/kind of cookie-cutter type thing—it’s going to look very different: depending on your wiring, your personality, if you’re an introvert or an extrovert, your season of life. I think, even in our marriage—Chris is an introvert; I’m an extrovert—we come to neighboring, and we bring our own kind of style to it.
Ann: Well, what does that look like? Did you guys ever disagree, like, “Do we have to have people over again?!”
Elizabeth: We never disagree. [Laughter]
Ann: Oh, I forgot you guys are perfect—
Elizabeth: Right. [Laughter]
Ann: —like us! [Laughter]
Was there a point/like were you both gamers in this whole concept of neighboring?
Chris: Yes; I think because it started off with just wanting to get to know our neighbors and have fun. I think we both had a desire to want to help build community in our neighborhood. We knew we needed that community; we knew our neighbors needed that community. By God’s grace, I think we kind of both found our niche in it.
Elizabeth did a lot of the inviting, the connecting, the organizing—
Ann: —as the extrovert would do.
Chris: —as the extrovert would do. I got to—you know, it’s not like I don’t talk to anybody—[Laughter]—but I got to help a lot with the serving; you know? I got to sling cotton candy for kids for a couple of hours, and build into some of those relationships, that I had kind of established already.
Elizabeth: And on the strengths finder, you have context, which—so neighboring for you, instead of kind of every four years, having to reestablish [relationship] like with college ministry—kind of meeting all these new people all the time/all the small talk—you love the ongoing building into relationships—
Elizabeth: —with people that are sustained over time.
Dave: So there isn’t a Tuesday night at the McKinney’s house, but there is some kind of rhythm?
Dave: Talk about: “What’s that look like?” You guys are the models of what we’re trying to be like.
Elizabeth: No. [Laughter]
Dave: I mean, you wrote a book on it; so you must be an expert. No; seriously, is there some kind of rhythm that you’ve sort of laid out?
Elizabeth: There is for us—but we, in our book/our book is more of a—it’s really a Bible study. We don’t really lay out like: “This is the prototype for neighboring,” in our book; we give a lot of different ideas for things you can try.
Our personal rhythm, just because it works for us, is we do love the parties. I love a party; I’m a sucker for a party. We kind of start off with an Easter egg hunt. We have a team of people who—we had, I think, on our hunt committee—we had a mom from Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, China, India; I mean, it was all these/the world—
Ann: That’s really cool.
Elizabeth: —helping with these Easter egg hunts.
Then, we do a Bite of the World Food Fest in the spring, where people bring different dishes from their heritage; and kids can come. You get a little bite from around the world, and that’s a lot of fun. We do our block party, of course. We do a Fourth of July bike parade. We do Halloween. We’re doing a turkey trot this year, where we’re going to space out; and we provide hot chocolate and doughnuts. It’s an outdoor type of thing.
Last year, we did a neighbors-giving—where instead of friends-giving after Thanksgiving—we said to some of our neighbors from India, “We’ll do leftovers at our house. You guys bring your leftovers; we’ll have ours,”—which we were, obviously, the/we came out the winners in that; because they brought chicken masala and all these different dishes that were amazing. We had leftover turkey and mashed potatoes; so—but we had pie, too—[Laughter]—but that was a lot of fun.
Then, we do, normally—we’re not doing it this year—but we do like a holiday open house, where we take pictures with Santa. There is a hayride with tours of the neighborhood lights and that type of thing.
Bob: Here is the great thing about what you’re saying. We hear Rosaria and her every Tuesday night. We hear you guys and your four or five neighborhood festivals that you do. This can really be: “What is/what’s your rhythm? What’s your personality? What’s your temperament? How can you be intentional about having some kind of a connection with your neighbor?” When we use the term, “neighbor,” you guys are—this is one of the things you talk about. We’re not talking about neighbor in a conceptual sense; right?
Bob: You’re talking about your neighbor neighbor—the real thing—right?
Chris: Your literal next-door neighbor.
Elizabeth: Imagine that.
Ann: Well, I like that because, as you were saying, Elizabeth, you like a good party; that’s part of who you are. To gather, periodically, to have a good party would be your personality. Then, because I was thinking, “I don’t know how we would have done that.” As I’m listening to all of this, I’m thinking, “I think sometimes it may require giving up something,” because our kids were in sports almost every night of the week.
I think it’s important to ask God: “God, what could this look like for me?” because we are called to love the people around us; we’re called to love our neighbors. To also pray and ask God: “God, what does this look like?” Even as a family with young kids in the house?—“Kids, what could this look like for us to get to know our neighbors?”
Chris: Yes; we/our kids have grown up doing this; they kind of have an idea. But even just a small step that you could take with your family is—every night/now most nights—when we do prayers, I know, for me especially, we always pray that our neighbors would experience God’s love and come to know Jesus. It’s just prayer that we have that our kids are used to hearing. Even when we think about taking just small steps in your neighboring, just praying, as a family, starting off is a great way to start neighboring; right?
Dave: Yes; and you said in the book, it could just be these small—because when you were talking about the parties—there is part of me going, “Wow! Those are big; those are epic.
Dave: “I’m not sure I could pull something like that off.
Ann: Honey, you would be really good at that.
Dave: “I would like it—
Ann: Bob, so would you!
Dave: —“if somebody organized it. I’d be the clown or whatever.”
Ann: You’d be the circus master.
Dave: I’m thinking/because there is a whole section of your book I thought was very important for us to understand; it’s that: “You can’t love your neighbor if you don’t see them.” I’ve often thought, “I see my neighbor across the street; but I don’t, because I’m busy. I worked all day.” I can—I’ve said on our stage—“I haven’t done it”; but I’ve said to our church, “You should do this. You’re pulling in from work; and Bob, across the street, is in his driveway. Don’t go in your house. Take five minutes—
Dave: —“not thirty—three to five minutes. At least, walk to the end of your driveway and say: ‘Hey man! What’s up?” “Man, how are you doing?’” Or pretend you’re getting the mail and just strike up a conversation. [Laughter] That five minutes could just—do you know what I’m saying?
I’ve even said this—tell me if you agree—and I don’t know; this is probably a misuse of a Bible story. When Jesus asks the woman at the well for a drink, you think, “Wow! What’s He doing asking her for something?” I thought, “If you really want to love your neighbor, ask him for something.”
Dave: You would think, “No,”—
Elizabeth: That’s right.
Dave: —“I want to wait for them to ask me.” No; borrow a tool.
Dave: I’ve spent many minutes in my neighbor’s garage—
Ann: You have.
Dave: —getting a tool—
Dave: —that they have. And the next thing you know, you’re not just returning a tool, you end up in a conversation. You never know where it’s going to go. Is that how you see your neighbor?
Chris: Oh, yes. I mean, asking for help is one of the best neighboring tools/ways to neighbor out there.
You can—there’s a story—there was a guy I was coaching; we call it neighbor coaching, where we try to help people kind of begin to figure this out. He/we were talking about his neighbor. I was like, “Ask for help; ask for something.”
When we got back together, he came back and told this story, where he needed his yard aerated. He didn’t have a pickup truck, and he didn’t want to hire somebody to do it. His neighbor had a pickup truck; he kind of knew him, but not super well. He just said, “I’m just going to ask for help.” He goes over and says, “Hey, would you mind helping me go pick up an aerator and help me aerate my lawn? You have the pickup; can we use your pickup?” The guy was/his neighbor was so excited to help, like, “We love to help; it’s fun to help.”
But it’s vulnerable to ask for help, so he took that step. They went and got the aerator. They got it; they did his lawn; they took it back. They spent the whole day together. And then this guy, who I was neighbor-coaching, said/he said, “Well, thank you so much. As a way to say, ‘Thank you,’ we want to have you and your family over for dinner as a way to say, ‘Thank you.’” That led to another opportunity to interact with his neighbor. So, yes, asking for help is a great way to get to know your neighbor and start those relationships.
Elizabeth: Recently, my sister has been reading the book. She said that they were at the park with their kids. They—it was like a neighborhood park—she started interacting with this other couple. The wife turned to her, after talking for about 20 minutes, and said, “You know, this is the most interaction I’ve had with someone in two years,”—as far as social interaction with someone.
Elizabeth: You know, she probably works, where she comes home from work. If you don’t work with a lot of people, or if you work from your home, a lot of people are pretty isolated.
Ann: —and lonely.
Elizabeth: And if we’re honest, sometimes, we’re lonely. That’s where I think neighboring—sometimes, we kind of get this idea of like, “Oh, we—the neighbors need us—we need to reach out to them”; but we can meet that need in each other’s lives, too.
Dave: Well, answer this: “How do you love your neighbor—
Ann: —“when you don’t like them?”
Dave: —“if you don’t like them?” [Laughter] Now, we’ve never had this. I’m kidding, but I’m not. It’s like we’re called—we’re talking about this vision of our address is not an accident—so God has placed us, and their address is not an accident. Here we are; we know God wants us to love them. Yet, they bug us: you know, they play music too loud; their dog poops in our/their kid poops in our front yard; you know? [Laughter] ;It’s like they sort of irritate me; you know?
Dave: Again, I’m being hypothetical here; because I’ve never in my life experienced it. No; seriously. You see them walking toward your driveway, or you see them in their driveway—you hear me in your head: “Go spend five minutes with them,”—and you’re thinking, “I don’t want to; I’d much rather go in and spend five minutes with my kids.” How do you love the un-loveable?
Elizabeth: Well, we call that the non-neighbor really; and sometimes, we don’t want to admit it; but maybe, we’re the non-neighbor. [Laughter] I think of all the bikes, and scooters, and socks my kids leave in our driveway and the neighbors’ driveway. I’m like, “We are the non-neighbors sometimes.”
But really, in the parable of the Good Samaritan, where Jesus/He highlights a man, who stops and is the Good Samaritan. He is a neighbor to someone who is very unlike him. I think, in our culture, where we are so polarized, and there is so much hostility, we kind of have an idea when our pastor says, “Love your neighbor.” If we’re honest, it’s kind of our family and friends and the people we like—those are the people who we think of when we think, “Love my neighbor,”—I don’t necessarily want to think of someone that I don’t like or someone that might be different from me in a certain regard. I think it’s important, as we neighbor, we can get outside of that bubble.
Chris: Yes; we also, in thinking about this, came up with this idea of this neighboring grid and how to see people. We’ve noticed/for instance, Francis Schaffer said that “We are all glorious ruins.” We are/we have this element of glory, because we are created in the image of God; but then, we also have this ruin that’s brought by the Fall in both our neighbors and in ourselves. When we only see the things that might be ruin or might annoy us—you know?—it may not be because it’s ruined, but it might just be a different preference on something—we judge them; they become a non-neighbor. We find it hard to find common ground, and we don’t see them or interact with them.
On the flip side, you could also see just kind of this glory part and not remember that they, also, are struggling. When that happens, you just see this like perfect image of your neighbor. You’re like, “Man, they have it all together. They don’t need me; they don’t want me to interact with them.” And a wave/smile—
Elizabeth: They are like the Joneses.
Chris: —they are the Joneses. You forget that they have needs in their lives as well. There is ruin, and there is stuff that is happening there.
To see people well, the way Jesus saw people—
Elizabeth: Well, don’t forget about the invisible neighbor; right?—
Elizabeth: —that’s one we don’t see them at all. They are just faceless; they are nameless; right? That’s the pulling into the garage, and we don’t even see our neighbors.
Chris: Yes; but when you see people as glorious ruins, you—the glory can motivate your respect for that person—you can say, “Because they are created in the image of God, surely, there is a point of common ground that I can find. There is grace for them like I want grace for myself.” You see the ruin, which can motivate your compassion. You know, you want compassion for yourself for the ways that you are broken; well, your neighbor wants that as well.
Kind of trying to pull those two together—it can be hard, especially with people who don’t think the way you do, vote the way you do, look the way you do—but that’s/we’re called out into that.
Dave: Have you sensed any impact on your family or on your marriage as you try to live out this: “We are placed for a purpose” vision? Does it help your marriage? Does it hurt your marriage? Does it impact your family at all? Does it impact your parenting, or how you are giving a vision to your kids? Is it a good thing? Is it an intrusive thing?
Chris: I think, as a family—like you hear of mission—you could take a mission’s trip with your family. That can be challenging to do—right?—if you want to bring all your kids.
A lot of times, I think we think of missions as something that’s going on out there. But if you begin to see yourself as placed for a purpose, your family—you can be missionaries right where you are—if you begin to talk about it with your kids; pray about it with your kids; and just say, “Hey, God has put us here; and He has put our neighbors around us, too. Yes, maybe, it’s kind of—we don’t understand all of the ins and outs—but we could, maybe, love on them and do this together as a family.” I think neighboring provides a way for families to experience being on mission for God.
Elizabeth: That’s messy sometimes—[Laughter]
Elizabeth: —but that is good, too. Like our daughter, Ginger—one of my neighbors came up to me in the last year and said—“Oh, Ginger/she’s been asking me if I’ve been reading the Bible to the boys.” [Laughter] I go, [questioningly] “Okay, what did you say?”—this was at the mailbox. She said, “Well, I told her, ‘No, I’m not doing that,’ but I appreciate whenever she talks to them about what she’s learning from the Bible.” I was so uncomfortable—
Elizabeth: —in that moment. I think that was a good uncomfortable.
Dave: Yes; because you’re kids are getting a vision.
Bob: Here is the takeaway, I think, for all of us: in the same way that we have come to use the noun, “Google”®, as a verb—“We googled it,”—we need to use the noun, “neighbor” as a verb as well. You’ve done that; neighboring is how we’ve talking about it here—and say, “Okay; part of what we are called to do by God/part of the commission we’ve been given by God is to love our neighbor—that’s neighboring—is loving your neighbor.”
Dave: You want to hear some—I’ll close with this—
Dave: —because Bob, I think you just set this up. I’m sure you are familiar with this, but
John 1:14—I’ll read it; it says—“The Word became flesh”—talking about Jesus—“and made His dwelling among us.” I remember, when I studied that in the original, it means: “He pitched His tent—
Dave: —“among us.” I did a sermon, years ago, called “Move into the Neighborhood: That’s What Jesus Did.”
Dave: He moved into our neighborhood. He didn’t stand up in the sky and say, “I love you.” He moved in and became—what?—one of us.
Elizabeth: —our neighbor.
Dave: That’s what He has called us to be; we are to move in and incarnate Jesus to our neighbors.
Bob: You guys have modeled this, and now you are giving us instruction on it in your book. Thank you for being here, and thanks for sharing with the audience.
Chris: Thank you so much.
Elizabeth: Thanks for having us.
Bob: And for those who are inspired, motivated, convicted—
Dave: —convicted. [Laughter]
Bob: —go to our website/go to FamilyLifeToday.com and get a copy of Chris and Elizabeth’s book, Placed for a Purpose: A Simple and Sustainable Vision for Loving Your Next-Door Neighbors. We’ve got it in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can order it from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to order. Again, the website, FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY; that’s 1-800-358-6329; 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.” Ask for your copy of the book, Placed for a Purpose, by Chris and Elizabeth McKinney.
David Robbins, who is the president of FamilyLife®, is with us. What we’ve been talking about today—I know this is something that is—you are very passionate about this.
David: You know, it’s really cool for me to have you hear from Chris and Elizabeth. When I joined staff with Cru, Elizabeth and I joined staff together; and we were in a group together in the seminary class that we were taking. It has been so fun, through the years, to keep up with her and Chris as they have grown this heartbeat for knowing that they were placed in the community they have been placed with to share life/to be Jesus in that place—as John 1 says—“to take up residence in that place” and to reflect Jesus in that place.
It reminds me of Acts 17, because I think that’s exactly what they have lived out and what their book is about. It’s exactly what every follower of Jesus gets to participate in; Acts 17:26: “And God made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined an allotted period of time and the boundaries of their dwelling places, that they should seek God and, perhaps, find their way toward Him.”
The reality is that God has placed you exactly where you’ve been put—the exact boundaries of your dwelling place, the neighborhood you live in, the spheres of influence that you have—God is the One who determined those. We get to show up, as ambassadors of Christ, representing Him to those people that God has put around us. You are called to those people.
I would encourage you to pray and put into application some of the things that Chris and Elizabeth have shared with us. Whatever God’s prompted you with, take a step of faith, trust Him that it is from the Holy Spirit, and see how God is going to show up.
Bob: Yes; that’s a great challenge, David. Thank you for that.
We hope you and your family have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church on this Resurrection weekend as we focus on the resurrection of Christ at Easter.
I hope you can join us back on Monday when we’re going to talk about all of the ways Dave and Ann Wilson messed up as parents—I mean, really what we’re going to talk about—they’ve written a new book called No Perfect Parent. We’re going to talk about how God’s grace is a part of effective parenting, but we’ll talk about where our focus needs to be as we raise the next generation. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch. We got some extra help today from Bruce Goff. Of course, our entire broadcast production team was involved. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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