If you’re a leader in a church or business, and you want to improve your culture of hospitality, then you’ll love Danny’s new book. It’s a must-read! -Dan T. Cathy, CEO, Chick-fil-A
When it comes to interacting with guests, churches typically gravitate towards one of two camps: over-the-top, shock-and-awe, let-us-entertain-you or oh-man,-some-people-just-showed-up, underwhelming experience. Each extreme has drawbacks: on one end, people become the center of the universe. On the other, hospitality is effectively ignored in deference to the "serious business" of worship.
People Are the Mission proposes a healthy middle, one where guests are esteemed but the gospel is the goal. Danny Franks, Connections Pastor at Summit Church, shows churches how to take a more balanced approach - a "third way" that is both guest-friendly and gospel-centric. He shows why honoring the stranger doesn't stand in opposition to honoring the Savior. People are the mission that Christ has called us to, and if we focus on people we can better assist people to focus on the gospel.
Introduction: A Wee Little Man and A Tale of Two Churches. The introduction would start with a five minute sermonette on the narrative of Jesus and Zacchaeus out of Luke 19:1-10. This story encapsulates the message of the book: you have a sinner who wanted to encounter Jesus, but couldn’t really see him because of the crowd. You have a Savior who intentionally pursued the outsider, much to the chagrin of the watching religious types. Jesus’ goal wasn’t to accommodate Zacchaeus in his sin, but to meet him where he was, love him well, and move him into a growing relationship. (The “Zacchaeus” theme would continue through each of the section headings.) The second half of the intro would focus on the two types of churches that the book will address and help the reader come to the realization that we rarely fall completely in either camp. To assume that seeker-driven churches have no theologians or gospel-centered churches have no warmth is erroneous. However, we all have blind spots in our quest for maximizing the model we’ve chosen. All of us have elements of the model we’d like to villainize, when in reality we can carry those elements into the aspects of our own ministries. Part One: Looking Out The part one overview will reveal the first stop on the “people are the mission” journey. It will encourage readers to interact with the reality that we must do a certain amount of catering to consumers, because those are the people we’re trying to reach. At the beginning of his relationship with Jesus, Zacchaeus was a consumer. Yet, Jesus connected with him where his heart was before moving it where it needed to be. 1. The Gospel is Offensive. Nothing Else Should Be. This chapter will really serve as the foundation for the entire book, and actually serves as the sample chapter for the work. As gospel-preaching churches, we have to be comfortable with the fact that the gospel makes most people – believers and non-believers – uncomfortable. We want to make sure that we are offending people with the right things (the truth claims of Jesus, the necessity of salvation) and not the wrong things (disastrous weekend systems, shoddy production quality, unfriendly greeters). 2. The Sermon Starts in the Parking Lot. Everything that happens offstage will either contribute to or detract from everything that happens onstage. I plan to help the reader see that rather than starting with the message of a thirty minute sermon, they have to start with all of the other communication stimuli that a guest experiences before the sermon. The primary thrust of this chapter will be to “think outside in,” using the first ten minutes rule and giving practical guidance for how to direct everything towards the gospel message. 3. When Hostility Meets Hospitality. In this chapter I plan to extend the message of chapter two and speak directly about those who are openly angry towards the message of the gospel and have a broken view of the church. I will share stories of people who have told us “I don’t agree with anything you teach, but I can’t argue with how you make me feel.” These stories go beyond the weekend and into the week; everyday interactions between our people and their surrounding community. While some are stories in progress, I’ll point to other examples of people who have come to faith because of the persistent friendliness and grace of friends who have believed on their behalf. Part Two: Looking In The second stage of the “people are the mission” wheel addresses those who have gotten connected to the church and her ministries, but have not moved beyond that. These are largely the pew dwellers, the faithful, and the regulars. This section will challenge leaders to call them beyond the “what’s in it for me?” mindset. The Zacchaeus narrative serves as an example that there is actually no scriptural example of a Christ follower who is not actively serving and following Jesus. 4. Beyond Parking Shuttles and Smoke Machines. The desire t