Evangelism books never sell very well.
There are some good ones out there, usually written by extroverts with the spiritual gift of evangelism. They make the reader feel guilty. Inadequate. The gist is, “Here’s what I did, and here’s how many people came to Christ. Go and do likewise.”
I’ve read a few of these books. I even wrote one. Ghost-wrote it, actually, for a husband and wife who were better at neighborhood hospitality and evangelism than anyone I have ever known. People who read the book (I think there might have been eight) told me it convicted them, but they could never do what Norm and Becky did. God then used this incredible couple to build a neighborhood hospitality ministry in India. Thousands have come to faith. It’s a wonderful story.
The Simplest Way to Change the World is written by two people who sound more like me: a guy who would sooner unclog a toilet than host a block party. Dustin Willis and Brandon Clements confront this immediately:
Half of all people identify as introverts, so if you are one, we realize you may be thinking, Yeah, but I really can’t practice — I don’t want to practice — hospitality because I’m an introvert. It would be too draining. Please do not read this book thinking the message is, Force yourself to be an extrovert because of the gospel! Please don’t let your personality type be a barrier to living out a God-ordained calling that is actually tailor-made to suit your personality type.
Pop culture tells us our home is a sanctuary, featuring a mancave and perhaps a chichier she-shed. Oxford Dictionary defines chichi as “attempting stylish elegance but achieving only an overelaborate pretentiousness.” In other words, every HGTV program. (Side note: Do yourself a favor and google “HGTV memes.” You will find treasures like, “I sharpen colored pencils and my wife works one hour a month collecting butterflies. Our budget is $1.8 million.”)
Willis and Clements say hospitality less about granite counters and shiplap and a lot more about our attitudes toward home. Is it a hideaway, or an instrument of God’s grace? And if it’s the latter, then what should we do?
It’s simpler than we thought
The book’s title gives away the answer: simple things. Things you probably do anyway, but with prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit added. “Think like a missionary when living out your normal, everyday activities,” the authors write.
There’s practical advice on how to meet your neighbors without being weird. Hanging out in the front yard instead of the back yard. Starting a Facebook group. Sharing a simple meal. There’s advice for college students. Single adults. People who live in retirement centers.
The book concludes with a six-week group study, which many of First Free’s Life Groups will be doing to coincide with the sermon series that begins Sunday. The study is designed “to shape the way they leverage their homes and lives for the sake of the gospel.”
Get a lot of people doing that, and our neighborhoods will never be the same.
The Simplest Way to Change the World is available in The Scroll Resource Center.