When planning for ministry, do you consider your context?
In his new book, Eat What Is Set Before You: A Missiology of the Congregation in Context, Scott Hagley considers this crucial question.
Too often, we can have a “missionary hero” mentality, thinking we’re going to “change the world.” This approach is focused on self. Instead, Hagley dives into Scripture and a local congregation to suggest that a more effective model is “faithful presence” in the neighborhood where God has placed us. In this model, the focus is God and others.
“For the Christian,” Hagley says, “hospitality provides an image of the gospel. We are simultaneously the guest and the host of the Triune God. So also, we relate to one another in a fluid interchange between guest and host.”
I appreciate the ethnographic thoroughness (research is based upon a particular, somewhat representative evangelical church) of this book, and I believe it would serve as a helpful brainstorming companion to any congregation asking the question, “What does it mean to love our actual neighbors? Why has God placed our building exactly here?”