On Sunday we canceled church because Minneapolis experienced the heaviest snowfall in April ever; next Sunday the forecast says we should be hitting 60 Degrees Fahrenheit! Spring in Minnesota is incredibly unpredictable, but it means that Summer is on its way.
Last week I promised that we would talk more about neighborhood cookouts in this week’s post. So here we go!
I have to be honest that I cannot be responsible for the genesis of the neighborhood cookout at the Hammond Household. Sophie was the first to ask Chelsea and me if we could invite others over. How was I to say, “no,” to such a wonderful way to bring neighbors together? I think she just wanted to talk to all of her friends at once, not actually do the hard work of inviting everyone, setting up the tables, figuring out the food, and hosting the gathering, but she has always been a big help every time we host. I share this because I think it is important for someone in your family to be excited about however neighborhood cookouts look in your neck of the woods. Without that excitement from within, it will be hard to sustain any kind of continued ministry.
If you are having trouble finding that excitement in your home, let me see if I can encourage you to plant the excitement in you… I got to listen to Brian Howard at a conference this week, who has been pastoring for longer than I have been a follower of Jesus. He stated what should be the goal of every church: to make disciples. Matthew 28:18-20 says,
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
“Make disciples as you go, by baptizing and teaching them to obey.” This process starts with people who are not currently disciples and continues as long as we are alive: “I am with you to the end of the age.”
So many of us have found wonderful Christian family and friends at Grafted, but if we only hang out with other followers of Christ we won’t be able to follow the command that Jesus gave His first followers. Every Christian needs to continue to interact with those who have not yet made the decision to follow Jesus. If the excitement isn’t within you, do it because the One you follow told you to do something, and this is one way that you can do it.
Once you catch the fire, from within or from outside, sit down and pray. It doesn’t need to be a long drawn out prayer, but just ask God to help you keep the fire in you and guide you to invite the people who need to hear about Him.
Then inviting 10 households to join in on a Friday night for food and conversation at a grill near you is the next step. Here is a draft of an invitation that you can copy and paste onto a word document to pass out. You will need to update the names, addresses, dates, and phone numbers, but it is a good place to start. FAIR WARNING: by inviting 10 households, it means that there is a possibility that all 10 may come, or that 0 may show up. Don’t be discouraged or encouraged week to week. If no one comes, you are still out grilling in God’s great creation; if everyone comes it is a great chance to gather many people to hear about what God has done in your life!
The final step is the hardest. After creating this wonderful opportunity to talk about what God has done for you through the blood of Jesus, DON’T MISS IT! This may be the time that someone hears about how Jesus completes our brokenness and takes THEIR first step of faith. Engage in conversation, listen to other people’s stories, tell your story, and invite folks to become a follower of Jesus. There is no need to gather everyone together to give a full blown sermon, transforming faith happens one person at a time!
One last thought: if all of this sounds like way too much, team up with another Grafted Household near you. Having 2 households may make it easier than going it alone. If you gather 3 together, it might be a bit intimidating for one newcomer to enter the circle. Doing it as a community is always easier than trying to do it all yourselves.
Make a plan: Who are you are you going to team up with? Who are you going to invite? When are you going to have the cookouts?
Do the plan: Invite 10 households. Turn on the grill. Talk to people about their lives and about yours.
See what God does: Every time you share what God has done and invite folks to take their first step of faith is a chance for God to move in incredible ways.
If you have questions about how to get going don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I often miss steps when I make a plan, so start working on this for your home and let me know how we can get better!