Just walk across the room. Isn’t that what we in Food Service do everyday? We walk across our kitchen and put our arms around that faithful volunteer and thank them for showing up to serve for the millionth time. We walk across the dining room to greet and love on those guests on Wednesday night that we served for years, decades maybe. We walk across the room to meet with a youth pastor to discuss their next big event. Yes, we are very good at walking across the room to do ministry each and everyday.
The challenge I see in my life and probably in the life of many of you as we take lots of walks across the room only to find ourselves when we get there greeting and meeting with other Christians. Now, that is not inherently bad, at all. In fact, it is quite nice. But is that really the only reason God called us to food service ministry, just to serve other believers only and hardly ever find ourselves in the same room as people who are far away from God? I don’t think so.
I love evangelism! It bumps my needle. It fires me up and sparks my faith when I get to personally see someone cross eternity into the arms of Jesus. The problem is that I find myself in far too many rooms with too few opportunities to share the good news of Christ’s love. I am constantly surrounded by believers and when I am not, I am usually too busy to take the time to sit and talk with someone who desperately needs a savior. Sound familiar?
This book by Bill Hybels was a great reminder to me that I don’t need to be on the mission field in the D.R or South Carolina or serving the homeless in downtown Asheville or the countless other ways that I have shared God’s love with the lost in order to be on mission. In fact, it reminded me that there are still those around me everyday that in just 45 seconds of my obedient spirit filled time, that I could share my story and impact someone’s life for eternity. Just walk across the room. What about the delivery guys who bring your food and other supplies to your kitchen? What about the sales rep who sells you your coffee? What about the oven repair guy, or what about your temp employees you have to sometimes call for your busiest shifts? What about your regular staff and volunteers? Are they really all in a genuine spirit filled relation with Jesus? Have you asked them? What about all those people? Is not God sending people every day right into our path at work that are far from Him? Is He not expecting us to say something? How are we doing? How are you doing with connecting with the families in your neighborhood? The people in your grocery store? Your favorite restaurant or coffee shop? When was the last time you openly shared your faith with any of these people? If you are like me, it’s been far to long.
There was one particular paragraph in this book that just hit me right in the heart. It was the story of Zacchaeus. On page 124, Hybles writes; “He was a self-proclaimed money monger, but after he had dinner with Jesus Chris, everything changed. On the other side of that meal, Zacchaeus…” and we know how the rest of the story goes. His life changed forever. I could not stop thinking about that sentence. How many meals are we responsible for preparing every day? And yet, can we honestly share the last time that we know for certain that someone’s life was changed forever after that meal?
I gleaned two main thoughts from this book. The first was the 3 simple steps in the principle of what to do after you have finally taken courage and walked across the room to someone whom you don’t know is a believer or not. He calls it 3D Living. Those simple steps are Develop Friendships, Discover Stories and Discern Next Steps. And they really are quite simple. Step 1 is the hardest one “Hi, my name is Marcus, what’s yours?” The second step is equally easy, “so what’s your story” and then just listen. It’s not about you, is it. Lastly, pray while you are listening and ask God how he would have you move the conversation towards Him. And that’s it. Not complicated all. It doesn’t have to be.
The second main thing I took from reading this was an idea called “Matthew Parties”. These are based on the first thing Matthew did after Jesus changed his life. He invited all his friends to come meet this Jesus guy at a party. The story goes that some of them came to faith as well. And apparently these types of intentional parties have been around for a while. How in the world of my 19 years of walking with Jesus, loving evangelism and people and serving in the food service ministry business, have I never heard of a Matthew Party? It’s simply unbelievable to me! The concept is also just so simple. Invite people to a party. The key is that they can’t all be believers. Some yes, but not all of them. Then simply ask God to do what only He can do in those conversations.
Hybels does have multiple chapters with poignant stories and lots of how to’s (and how not to’s) to further elaborate these two concepts and others but I truly do believe that it can be just as simple as I have summed it up above. So how about you? Will you join me in being more intentional with your walks? Will you share with us your stories about how God has used you in those walks across the room? I’d love to personally hear them!
“Just Walk Across The Room” by Bill Hybels. A book summary by Marcus White