After a long day of drop-offs and pick-ups, meetings and meeting needs, opening our home and our hearts to more people is usually the last thing I naturally want to do.
Yet, every time we host a small group or Bible study, I go to bed both tired and satisfied.
I love quiet. I love calm. And these are nearly always on backorder in a household of three growing boys in the context of ministry. I feel like I can barely keep enough food in our pantry for our children. As such, thinking for snacks for weekly guests grows my task list, my grocery bill, and my already-overflowing shopping cart. Keeping up with basic cleaning is a challenge for me, so getting the boys’ shared bathroom in suitable condition for strangers feels like a Herculean task.
However, once the people are finally gathered in our backyard, at our table, or on our couch, all those concerns flee. Once God has gathered saints and strangers in our home, I am reminded of the priority of persons in the economy of the kingdom. Sentient, living, breathing, burden-bearing souls come to our home each week to be received by other sentient, breathing, burden-bearing souls. We talk about the weather and the latest taco spot, but we also share tidbits of our stories. We multiply each other’s joys and divide each other’s sorrows. For some portion of an evening, we are reminded that there are cares outside the casing of our own hearts.
In the Church, small group leaders do a lot of heavy lifting. They faithfully accommodate their homes and hearts to others. They are tempted to grow weary in well-doing, especially when it does not seem like huge things are happening week in and week out.
This temptation to have drooping hands and hearts is not new to the church. In fact, the writer of Hebrews continually reminded the Jewish believers to keep going in the seemingly ordinary act of regularly meeting together.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
The Kingdom Hinges on Hospitality
For the past 6 months, I have been living in the book of Acts, studying it with multiple groups of people. This time though, a different cast of characters have stood out to me. And it is not the likely crew of Peter, Barnabas, Paul, and others. It is people like Ananias, Mary, Priscilla and Aquila, Philip, and Jason.
I wonder if Mary was having a long day when the early church decided to gather in her home for a prayer meeting for the recently imprisoned Peter? We don’t get a glimpse into the whirling preparation she likely made to accommodate a group of prayer warriors who would stay through the night. We only know that, after the angel released Peter, he knew where to find the believers. They would be gathered at Mary’s house. They were in the habit of doing so (Acts 12:12).
When Jason opened his home in hospitality to Paul and Silas in Thessalonica, he had no idea that such a simple gesture would become so much more. Refusing to give them up to a mob, he was dragged out of his own home, brought before authorities, and extorted for funds (Acts 17:1-9).
The kingdom hinges on seemingly small acts of faithful hospitality. The body of Christ must be housed, fed, and nurtured, both physically and spiritually.
Where Everybody Knows Your Name
In a world that is increasingly flattened by globalization, it is entirely too easy to feel lost in the sauce. As a culture, we have more information at our fingertips than any previous culture; however, we feel less known. Sadly, the same can often be said of churches. Small groups provide a platform for something the world around us craves: a place where everybody knows your name. In a world full of people who are weary, heavy-laden, and often alone, smaller groups provide a trusted people who will multiply joys and divide sorrows.
One of the church’s greatest apologetics to the watching world is community crystallized around the person of Christ. When a small group offers it’s precious Saturday morning to help someone move, the neighborhood notices. When a small group leader organizes a meal train for new parents, watching families and friends observe in wonder. When a newlywed couple comes over late at night for advice from an older couple in their small group, the enemy trembles. While these acts may seem small, they are the frontlines of the advance of the gospel in our hearts and in our communities.
Small group leader, don’t grow weary. Continue opening your home and feeding the flock of God placed under your care. Keep making room in your schedule and soul for the household of God.
Let us not grow weary in well doing, for in due season, we will reap, if we do not lost heart. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:9-10).
I must run now. I’ve snacks to purchase and bathrooms to clean.
About the Author:
Aimee Joseph directed Women’s Ministries at Redeemer Church in Encinitas, CA for three years. She also works alongside her husband, G’Joe, who directs Campus Outreach San Diego. They love watching college students brought from lost to leaders through Christ in the church for the world. Parenting three growing boys keeps her busy; writing on her blog and studying the Word keep her sane. She has a passion to see women trained to love God and His Word.