‘Missional lifestyle’: Home

This is the third in Nicole’s series on ‘missional lifestyle’. Read parts 1 and 2.

I’m hoping in my next few posts to look at a few different areas of life (home, education, work, sport, etc.). I want to discuss the opportunities that each present for being involved in the lives of others—for their good and their salvation. I also want to examine some of the idolatries that we can be tempted to serve in each of these areas—idolatries that have the potential to destroy both us and our witness by luring our hearts away from Christ. I’m going to start with the most obvious one: our homes.

There are two big opportunities for mission that our homes open up for us: proximity and hospitality.

1. Proximity

The first is proximity: having a home gives you the opportunity to live close to people—to have consistent and frequent contact with an identifiable circle of others.

This begins before you’ve even stepped out the front door. Whoever you live with (your family of origin, your flatmates, your spouse and children, your ageing parents), the people who share your home are your first and most obvious candidates for whom you can do good and with whom you can promote the gospel. Passages like 1 Timothy 5:4, 1 Corinthians 7:14-16, 1 Peter 3:1-7 and Titus 2:1-10 make this point in a variety of ways, holding a variety of different situations and relationships in view.

Beyond the front door, a home also gives you neighbours. The place where you choose to live brings you close to a particular community, and creates a mission field.

This is particularly the case if your work is also close to where you live, or if your work is at home (for example, like my own situation as a mother at home with young kids). This is even more the case if your church is close to where you live, because your neighbourhood mission field is also the main geographical community your church is trying to reach. (We haven’t even begun to discuss the way in which a missional mindset might re-shape our thinking and decision-making about where to live in the first place—but that’s probably a topic for another whole series …)

So it makes sense for us to grab hold of the opportunities we are given to know and serve our neighbours, and to know and serve our neighbourhoods. We Christians who have been taught by Jesus to love our neighbours—especially those of us who spend most of our week in the neighbourhood—have the chance to number ourselves among the few forces for connection and cohesion in a fragmented, disconnected community. Furthermore, in the midst of that, all sorts of opportunities can arise for introducing people to Christ and to the community of the church.

But it takes conscious thought about the patterns of your lifestyle to treat the suburb or town you live in as a mission field and not just a blur that your see through the car window on your way in and out of home. For example, just the simple act of walking whenever you can instead of driving creates opportunities to bump into people—people you know and people you didn’t know before. Spending time in the (sociable, exposed, semi-public) space of the front yard (if you have one) rather than always retreating to the (private, secure, comfortable) space of the backyard is another relatively easy option for recapturing neighbourliness in suburbia.

All sorts of lifestyle habits can be rethought and re-organized when you begin to think about your neighbourhood like a missionary pondering a mission field. But it starts with the mindshift.

2. Hospitality

The other big opportunity that home creates for mission is the chance to show hospitality: using your home as a place to welcome others.

The New Testament is full of exhortations to hospitality, and the hospitality Jesus teaches and models is not just reciprocal hospitality (inviting over the friends who will invite you back in turn), but missional hospitality—eating with tax collectors and sinners, and making space in your home to welcome people who aren’t really likely to invite you back to theirs.

If I want to get to know my neighbours, and I want to talk about Christ with them, and I want them to see the difference that living under his rule makes to the way I live every day, then (depending on who I live with and what my role is within the household) an obvious habit I will want to cultivate will be the habit of showing hospitality. If my home is permanently closed to my neighbours, it’s probably a sign that my heart is too.

Arrayed against me in my attempts to follow Christ and serve him as a missionary in my home are a whole host of home-related idolatries against which I do battle. More on them in the next post!

One thought on “‘Missional lifestyle’: Home

  1. Keep writing!  With all the talk of missional church, we can’t forget that we don’t live at church.  We live at home, among friends and neighbors, believers and our mission field.

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