The Bible is very clear that the elder is to open his home. In his instructions to elders, Paul tells both Timothy and Titus that the elder is to be hospitable, which means a lover of strangers (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8). This is to be a distinguishing mark of the leader of God's people. They are to be welcoming of those they do not know. They are to show that their things are not their things. They are to use the gifts that God has given them as a tool for ministry. (By the way, this is not a calling just for elders, but God actually calls all Christians to have this similar attitude. Read Romans 12:13.)
But God's command of me as an elder is not necessarily the reason why this weekend we will have over a hundred people to our home. Now, don't get me wrong. We want to follow the Scriptures. We want to be faithful to what God has called us to do. But when we open our home to others, it is hardly ever with an attitude of begrudging duty. I hardly ever sense in us a "we have to do this" attitude. Opening our home usually flows from a heart of joyful desire. This is not because we are super spiritual people. I think we do it because over the years, we have come to realize how meaningful it can be in ministry to have people into our home. But why is it so special?
First, We Become Real People
This might sound strange, but sometimes people look at the pastor as if they are on some spiritual pedestal. That is the last place I want to be. I want people to know that I am in the spiritual fight just like they are. I want them to know that I need Jesus as much as I tell them they need Him. And when they come to our home, they realize that we are real people. We are as messy as they are. They realize that we like sports like them. They realize that we don't think TV is from Satan. We no longer are viewed as the pastor and his family. We are now people that they think they can actually spend time with.
Second, People Let Their Guard Down
Because they realize we are real people, they let their guard down. As we show them our real self, they show us their real self. And this is where the best ministry happens.
Third, We Become A Community Of Friends
Relationships can never be manufactured. I will never be able to successfully hold someone accountable. They will only be accountable to the degree that they want it. As I pursue them for friendship, they pursue me for spiritual help. And in so doing, we help each other follow Christ. That is the importance of a spiritual community.
And so this weekend, we will hold our second annual Open House for those at Cornerstone Bible Church. Tonight and tomorrow, we will have many people in the home. And my prayer is that it leads us to live life with each other.