May 1st, 2015

A conversation in a meeting the other day included an apology by a colleague for “making it personal” and discussing her own introduction to the Christian faith. It was a compelling story, and it had a profound impact on the rest of the conversation. After sharing her personal story, she acknowledged that the apology was unnecessary.

I wonder how our current conversations in the church might be affected by sharing our personal stories about when we experienced the welcoming hospitality of the community of faith and the transforming evangelism of someone who introduced us to the love of Jesus.

If the topic is framed as an emphasis on evangelism or hospitality, there may be grounds for making theological distinctions about the type of transformation sought in a given setting. But such distinctions probably do not drive progress when sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. The writers in this issue articulate very clearly that these practices are not either/or but rather both/and. Hospitality and evangelism are seen together as necessary components in the same mission of building grace-filled, transformational relationships in the name of Jesus Christ.

We hope this issue will equip you with new ways of thinking and talking about evangelism and hospitality, or that it will help sharpen and confirm what you know. And, more importantly, we trust you’ll find ideas that will equip you and your church leadership with practical ways to enhance your efforts in these critical endeavors. After all, it’s all about building relationships!

Few people in our recent history have had a more profound impact on the ways we think about and implement both hospitality and evangelism in the congregation than Lyle E. Schaller. This issue is dedicated to his memory and his faithful ministry. Nothing would serve his memory better than for the church to renew its singular calling and focus on sharing the love of Jesus Christ with a hurting world.

About the Author

Brian Milford

Brian K. Milford is the Chief Content Officer & Book Editor of The United Methodist Church. He has served read more…
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