The process which brings outsiders in to the familia Dei can be thought of in two-steps: beholding and participating.
Beholding the familia Dei
This is the first step of bringing an outsider in. God will simply reveal himself to an individual or community. This can be done through a supernatural self-disclosure, or it can occur as an outsider beholds the beautiful dynamic of the familia Dei in his redeemed people.
Practically speaking, this is when your neighbor, who’s not a Christian, begins to eat dinner with you often, serves your neighborhood alongside of you, celebrates with you, and sticks around when your Christian friends come over. Your Christian community begins to get to know this neighbor, love her, serve her.
Your neighbor begins to see how Christians love one another, constantly speak highly of Jesus, and are perceptive of others’ needs through the Holy Spirit. She hears the gospel spoken often between Christians, to Christians, and to her.
Participating in the familia Dei
Beholding the inner-dynamic of the familia Dei, your neighbor is able to see beyond the blaring public image of Christ to the genuine Christ in his people. She may respond in three different ways: run, leech, or participate. She may run due to the confrontation with her deeply embedded brokenness and sin. She may stick around and leech off of this life-giving community which pays attention to her and listens to her needs. (Many so-called “Christians” operate in this same consumeristic mentality when church is supposed to “feed” them spiritually without them ever going to feed others.)
She may also begin to participate in the family of God. Now, this is different than the “Jesus come into my heart” prayer. This is a deep, profound, and often subtle transition from beholding to participating.
She begins to feel or hear the Holy Spirit when she is alone – because she has already learned what he does through the community. She begins to love in a brand new, fulfilling and sacrificial way. There is a strange affection for, and security in, the man Jesus Christ and the church which is united to him. She begins to participate in the familia Dei.