As we approach Ministry Conference 2020 I am wondering if there has been a time in recently history where the message of biblical hospitality has been needed more. Since mid-March most of us have been under various levels of quarantine from those around us, as we have attempted to stop the spread of COVID-19. In more recent days we have watched our nation become increasingly divided over the issue of racism. If there was ever a time when hospitality was needed it is now.
In the middle of all that is going on around us, Kristin and I have moved into a new neighborhood consisting of a wide range of ethnicities. The interesting thing is that during a time when COVID-19 says to “social distance” and racism says to build walls, people are just stopping by to visit in our front yard more than ever before. To be honest, after a couple of months in our new neighborhood, I now know the names of more neighbors than I knew in 15 years of living in our old one. In the middle of all that one of the main questions I am asking is, “What does a lifestyle of hospitality look like where we live?”
The biblical concept of hospitality stems from Genesis 18:1-8 where Abraham welcomed the divine guests who came to him at the Oaks of Mamre. If you have a couple of minutes, take some time and read this passage, while focusing on the attitude demonstrated by Abraham to “strangers” in his presence. The concept of hospitality is further developed in the Old Testament through the emphasis on caring for the “widows and orphans” who were unable to care for themselves.
Then, in the New Testament Jesus’ teaching about the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), and His lifestyle of hospitality, demonstrated great love for God by loving others. Jesus said the world would know us by our love, and I think hospitality is an essential part of the equation. What does this “way of hospitality” demonstrated throughout the scriptures say to us today? I believe this message of hospitality is paramount in order for us to fulfill the Great Commission in light of the Great Commandment.
I am extremely excited to learn from our Ministry Conference speaker, Dan Kimball, who has given years of his life to studying how the church in America can become more effective at connecting with an increasingly secular culture. Several years ago, when I was working on my doctorate Dan was one of the leading researchers and authors on how to reach the younger generation. Today, after giving time to raising his family, Dan is still passionate about helping local churches, like ours, better understand how to reach generations of young men and women who are leaving the church, or who have grown up without the church.
There are two things I am certain about regarding Ministry Conference 2020. First, we will never forget it, due to the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Second, the theme of our conference has never been more relevant and more necessary for us, as followers of Jesus.
In this issue of the Einsights, we are focusing our attention on what you need to know as we approach Ministry Conference 2020 later this month. If you have further questions after reading this special Ministry Conference edition, please don’t hesitate to contact us at the Ministry Center. We are hoping you are able to join us for this very special online EFC-MAYM Ministry Conference, July 24-26, 2020.
Thayne A. Thompson