Several years ago, I interviewed Gordon MacDonald for an article for Youth Worker Journal. During our interview, Gordon talked about how one of the greatest things he's learned to do in discipling people is to welcome them into his home; That by being in his home, people learn about him, his marriage, his family, and his faith.
This has stuck with me over the years, so much so that despite the fact that before we got married, my husband feared his introverted wife would never want to host people, we now regularly open our home to people. We train my ministry's leaders here in our home. We also regularly host smaller youth ministry events and meetings in our house.
In fact, we did so on both Sunday and Monday of this week. The second gathering was one for my mission trip student leaders, including one girl who'd never been to my home. Although our doorbell doesn't work, usually this isn't a problem. Most people who have been here know to walk in; That on the days of meetings, the door is simply unlocked. Of course, she didn't. Instead, she was left standing awkwardly on my front porch, waiting for me to open the already unlocked door. When I explained, “Next time you're here, you can just walk in,” she stopped, completely stunned, and said, “Really?!? You know that's not normal right?”
I love the fact that although that's not normal in most places, it's normal here.
When teens are here, I also love seeing them sprawled on my couch, completely at home. I love that they know where the restroom is without asking... Along with the glasses and the drinks. I love that our overly friendly cat, Samson, races from teen to teen, hungry for love, and that my teens willingly indulge him. (I also love the idea of teens soon doing the same for our child).
Mostly, though, I love that having teens in my home enables them to get to see and know the real me, the one who's not quite as perfect as the image I try to project at church.
I love that teens know our home isn't going to be perfectly tidy.
I love that teens scrutinize the map hanging on our wall, asking us about the places we've been, the experiences we've had, as well as the places we hope to go.
I love that our wall art sometimes gets woven into the conversation. For example, on Sunday, as one of my adult leaders led a conversation about prayer, one of my teens talked about how the different pictures on our wall prompted him to pray for different things.
And maybe this sounds strange, but I even love the fact that teens know from having opened the door of my fridge that there's alcohol in there. Seeing those drinks have often prompted in-depth conversations with teens about a sensitive subject when they've asked,
- I thought Christians weren't supposed to drink. How come you do?
- How often do you drink? Under what circumstances?
- What does the Bible say about drinking?
- How'd you decide whether or not to drink?
Such conversations promote honesty and sharing by letting teens into our real, everyday life.
And that, I suppose, is what inviting teens into our house does on a regular basis. It invites them into our real life.
And you know what?
When we invite teens into our real life, they'll invite us into theirs.
And that, friends, is when true discipleship happens.