In her recent book, The Gospel Comes with a House Key, Rosaria Butterfield outlines how she went from an unbeliever living a lesbian lifestyle to a born-again follower of Jesus Christ, and is married to a Presbyterian pastor.
Her conversion was aided by the gospel being shared through the hospitality of Ken and Floy Smith. The Smiths opened their home to Rosaria and allowed her to ask questions. They loved her as God was drawing her to Himself. Butterfield makes the case that many barriers to Christianity are torn down when believers and unbelievers spend time together over a meal around a dinner table.
While not every Kentucky Baptist will possess the evangelistic fervor of a vocational evangelist, most of us can open our home to friends, family members and neighbors for the purpose of building relationships and sharing the hope we have in Jesus.
That’s exactly what Connie and I did last Thanksgiving. We had 17 family members together for a dinner in our home for the Thanksgiving meal. While all our family members are loved, some of them are followers of Jesus and some have not yet surrendered to Christ and His promise of forgiveness of sin and reconciliation to God.
Our approach to evangelizing through Thanksgiving was simple. Before the prayer for the delicious meal, we had a captive audience at this point.
I had previously organized a gospel-sharing element from individual family members. I asked Connie’s father, a retired Baptist pastor, to share his salvation testimony with the family. Charles Proud did a wonderful job sharing how he came to faith in Christ. Many of his grandchildren had never heard his story. I then asked several others to share what they were thankful for. Each of these mentioned their relationship with Jesus as part of their comments. I then wrapped it up with a simple gospel presentation along with telling the family that my reason for this effort is that they are loved family members and our desire is that each of them will have a home in heaven when their days on earth are finished.
Making the holidays evangelistic does not need to be complicated, but it does need to be done. Fewer and fewer people have access to the gospel through church attendance and evangelistic Christian friends. Telling the good news around the holidays is one way we can communicate the message of hope to our loved ones. Consider these steps:
1. Decide that you want to make your holiday family time a gospel sharing time.
2. Pray and ask God for guidance on how to carry this out.
3. Consult with others who have done this very thing.
4. Develop your plan and put it into action.
5. Be sure and share with your family that your love for them motivates you to share the hope that you have in Christ.
May the Lord bless your efforts as you seek to share the good news of Jesus with those you love.
Todd Gray is executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.