The savory aroma of roasted garlic lingers in the air as we anticipate the
arrival of our Tuesday night dinner guests. A linen tablecloth,
floral-patterned dishes and crystal stemware adorn the table. Two youngsters
clambering up the stairs, wanting to know Whos coming for dinner tonight? break
the serenity surrounding the table.
For the past two years, Tuesday night has been missions night in our home.
We set aside one day a week to get to know the people who live in our
subdivision as an act of kindness. We worked our way through the neighborhood,
one neighbor at a time. Now it is part of our weekly schedule to look for those
we barely know and invite them to dinner.
Jesus didnt say: You are the salt of the earth, now just sit on the shelf.
No! Jesus wants us to be like salt in that we create a thirst in our
nonbelieving neighbors and friends for more information about Him (see Matthew
neighborsIf you can follow a recipe, the
next step to inviting people into your home is as easy as using
lan whom to invite. Where do you begin to find the
people to invite for dinner? We didnt have to look far to see a harvest field
in front of our window. In the beginning, we just wanted to get to know our
neighbors. Meeting new people every week was fun, but soon we realized not one
of them went to church. This was the beginning of our Tuesday night dinner
ministry. Before that we would chat with our neighbors about the weather and
the children, but we didnt really get to know them.
After we invited the neighbors up and down the street, we began on the other
side of the road. Then we branched out and started inviting people we associate
withthe bank teller, my husbands gym partner, mothers who walk their children
to school, schoolteachers and anyone who would come for a free meal.
stablish the menu. A friend of mine invited a couple
for dinner only to discover the entre of chicken breasts wrapped in bacon
couldnt be served because her guests would not eat pork. When I invite someone
to dinner, I always ask, Do you have any food allergies? Is there food that you
dont care for?
The menu is always simple. We normally have meat, potatoes, vegetables and
dessert. I never try new recipes on my guests. The key is friendship, not
fabulous menus. By the way, coffee and dessert can work just as well, if youre
not up for providing a full meal as your on mission outreach.
ray before the meal. In todays society this simple
gesture of praying before our meal speaks volumes. We thank God before every
meal for His provision for all our needs. We have never had anyone refuse to
take part. But make sure your guests know before the meal that there will be a
prayer. One of our guests was hungry and his fork was heading to his mouth when
all of a sudden my husband explained that we pray before our meal. Our guest
was embarrassed and so were we. To help avoid this awkwardness, my husband now
explains before the food is brought to the table that we say a prayer of thanks
to God. He often asks one of our children to pray. Kids know how to keep it
simple. Our guests usually respond with Thats sweet! and the tension is
repare a question that bridges the conversation from
surface to spiritual. We were growing a tree, and we needed some help with it.
We took it to the nursery and met Jenn. She was a horticulturist; over the
course of time we invited Jenn and her boyfriend to come to dinner. He was a
firefighter, so between trees and fires we had a lot to talk about. About 30
minutes into the meal, my husband very casually asked, So, do you go to
Well, no, was their response. We proceeded to talk about our church and
encouraged them to come for a visit. The following week, they decided to come,
and they both accepted the Lord.
We have found this question to be a nonthreatening way to move the
conversation to spiritual matters. Depending on their answer you will know how
to direct the conversation.
xplain the gospel. One way to do this is to explain
the plan of salvation. Another way is to ask them to come to church with you or
to a special Christian event. This part of the evening is exciting because this
is where you become salt to them. Be preparedif there is something you dont
have the answer to, let them know that honestly. Tell them you will find the
answer and get back to them.
emember them. Pray for them and remember who they
are. My memory is bad and I have a hard time recalling details, so I make some
notes to remind me of specific things that were shared during the time
together. Names of children or pets, special interests, place of employment or
a special event in their lives can be noted for future reference. Our neighbors
David and Patsy came over one evening and Patsy mentioned she was going into
the hospital for surgery. I wrote down the date and determined that when she
came home I would make a dinner and take it over to her.
Check out this classic resourceOut of the Salt Shaker and into the
World: Evangelism as a Way of Life by Rebecca Manley Pippert, published by
InterVarsity Press, revised and expanded in 1999.
Inviting your neighbors over to dinner is not the only way to connect with
them. My husband will quite often mow a neighbors lawn. On windy trash days, I
go out and collect the trash bins up and down the block and carry them up to
the owners homes. My children and I love to bake goodies; we frequently share
them with neighbors. I took a cold drink to one neighbor who was mowing the
lawn and introduced myself. Its the little things that say a lot.
It only takes a few minutes to do something nice for someone and in the
process demonstrate the love of Christ. So, the next time you are gathered
around the dinner table and someone says, Please, pass the salt and pepper,
remember, it is just that easy.
Elva-Jean Brown is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario.
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