[This post is part of the Becoming a Missional Family series.]
It is easy to share a home with my wife. She is an incredible homemaker. But she also tries really hard to optimize our home for hospitality and mission. Luckily, we are in the midst of some major home renovations (we just moved into a foreclosure) and so making changes is something we can do right now.
But what we’ve come to realize is that optimizing our home for the mission is more about becoming a missional family, practicing sanctified family rhythms, than it is about doing home renovations. In other words, the culture inside your home still trumps it’s layout and design.
Nevertheless, in becoming a missional family, we are obliged to thoughtfully consider every aspect of life for the mission of the gospel.
Home as stage and set
The whole premise of familia Dei is that God put very specific metaphors into motion which would illustrate — or dramatize — the gospel. Scripture is full of references to these metaphors, it’s the Bible’s preferred language to explain how God’s family grows through the gospel.
Marriage, adoption, and rebirth are metaphors, invented by God, and dramatized by families. When played well, these dramas bring an audience to see the intimacy, faithfulness, and love of the Trinity in the gospel.
But in any drama, it is the stage and set that communicates first. It must fit with what ensues when the curtain rises, or you’ll have a confused audience and a disjointed story.
Likewise, your home sets the tone for what neighbors and guests experience when they are exposed to the familial drama inside.
Let the story determine the stage (and not vice versa)
As actors and stage architects in this drama, it’s going to be important to consider the question, “Is how my home is set up reinforce — or distract from — the gospel?”
When considering how to stage your home, start with the story you want to tell. How will it shape the stage? What needs to be avoided at all costs? The story determines the set up — and not the other way around.
10 gospel elements to shape the stage
1. The Father opened up his family
If you’re going to tell this story, the first step is to let an audience in. How often do you have people over? Do people know that they can just stop in? Or is your home a fortress of solitude?
2. Jesus provides everything we need
Are your guests taken care of? Make sure that they have access to what they need (bathroom, fridge, seating, company).
3. The Spirit comforts and counsels
When you have guests over, do you listen to their story carefully so as to give sound counsel and care?
4. The Father’s house is a safe place to rest
Is your home a place where people can rest and be refreshed? You may want to consider turning that unused office into a guest bedroom.
5. The Father doesn’t wait for our perfection
Instead he welcomes us into his family. Are people comfortable coming over even when they’re dirty, stuck in sin and/or doubt? You may want to reconsider just how clean you keep your home.
6. Jesus welcomes children
Do kids want to come over? Every home optimized for the mission should have toys on hand.
7. Jesus welcomes strangers
Do your friends know that they can bring their friends over to your house? This is how the gospel becomes a viral story. Take an interest in your friends’ friends.
8. The gospel reconciles and forges relationships
Is your living room optimized for relationships? Many living rooms make entertainment their focal point. Try arranging your chairs/couches so that they face each other. You’d be amazed with the conversations that occur when people are forced to look at each other (and not at the TV) when they sit down.
9. The Father’s love is excessive and extravagant
Is your home a place of blessing for others? Maybe you need to bust out the nice wine for your guests from time to time.
10. Jesus freakin’ rose from the dead
Our Lord and Brother was not only crucified on our behalf, but he also rose from the dead! That means that as you open your home, you can be generous. Jesus gave his life to bring us into his family. What would you give knowing even death isn’t the end?
It’s going to be messy
Before you get too excited about a trip to IKEA in the name of “mission,” remember, optimizing your home for the mission is not about getting it pinned. It will get messy. Things will break. Your curtains will catch on fire. You will get wine spilled on your furniture. You will get ungrateful guests. You will get used. Favors will not be repaid.
Francis Schaeffer explains,
In about the first three years of L’Abri all our wedding presents were wiped out. Our sheets were torn. Holes were burned in our rugs. Indeed once a whole curtain almost burned up from somebody smoking in our living room. Blacks came to our table. Orientals came to our table. Everybody came to our table. It couldn’t happen any other way. Drugs came to our place. People vomited in our rooms, in the rooms of Chalet Les Melezes which was our home, and now in the rest of the chalets of L’Abri.
How many times has this happened to you? You see, you don’t need a big program. You don’t have to convince your session or board. All you have to do is open your home and begin. And there is no place in God’s world where there are no people who will come and share a home as long as it is a real home.