Hey my ODC family and my friends,

I know this is my second post today, however, I went to the Waffle House this morning after posting my morning blog and sitting at the low bar the main conversation was about the upcoming College Football National Championship Game this Monday. I had to remind all of my college football fanatics of the opportunity this Monday night provides you.

One Direction Community (ODC) has cancelled our Monday night Community Dinners for this coming Monday night as those that attend are SEC football fans and will be watching the game.  That is just how it is.  However, though we will not be having an ODC gathering Monday night, each of you need to have one of your own.  You need to leverage this “cultural event” as the perfect excuse to invite others into your home.  Most of you know I am one of those “damn yankees” from Cleveland, Oh.  So this post below is one I originally wrote directed to the NFL Super Bowl. (Though God only knows when my Browns will be in one!)  However, for “y’all” in Alabama and college football country, it applies equally well for the CFP National Championship game.

1. Throw a Party

The reason is that it gives you plenty of ways to bless people and the excuse you have been looking for around a common interest to invite them into your house.  Be like the Apostle Matthew and invite 3 types of people to your party: non-believer friends, Jesus and a few followers.

10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. 11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”

12 When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.”

Matthew 9:10-12

When you invite others, you get to choose the crowd you hang with.   Usually, for Christians, this is a bad thing as we over filter who we invite.  But notice who was at Matthew’s party: Scum, Jesus, disciples. All mixed, partying like it’s OO31AD.  Now, I am not saying some of my friends are “scum,” LOL!   However, The more this crowd: Jesus, followers and not yet followers hang out together, the better.

 

2. Encourage Story

Encourage story with everyone.  Walk around asking people “story” questions, or ask people, “have you heard his story, it’s awesome…”  Get your guests talking and listen.  You learn so much about them during these stories.  Be the story encourager at your party.  Ask questions like:

1  How’d you and your spouse meet?

2  Why did you choose your career?

3  Who is your favorite NFL (College) team and why??

4  What do you like most about living here? 

Really, any open ended question will work.  However, don’t be weird about it. It’s not to bait and switch them from talking about beer and chicken wings to talking about how unless you eat Jesus’ body and drink his blood you can never be one of his followers.   It’s so you can actually get to know them and their story so that when the opportunity comes, you know where their story needs redemption and who or what is their functional savior so you can point to the one and only Saviour who brings eternal redemption, now and forever. You’ll know how to serve them, love them and show them Jesus in the ways that will tell a story that will hit their heart. 

3. Go Overboard with Food

You ever been to a party where there isn’t much food?  It Sucks right?  Don’t be that party…be a party that points to the Great Wedding Feast.   Not only that, but take into consideration who is coming.  Ask if any have allergies, or a special diet.  When you take others into consideration, it shows you actually care and desire for them to be comfortable in your house.  It also gives you yet another connection point to their story.

However, Don’t supply all the food though.   Request and encourage people coming to bring food.   Have people bring a main dish.  The reason is that a main dish usually has a story behind it.  Either of how they grew up, who taught them how to make it or nothing at all.  But I usually simply ask, “Does this dish have any significance to you?”  You’d be surprised how much story can come from chicken salad. 

4. Ask the Spirit For Guidance

Who is pushing into you currently for relationship?  Ask the Spirit to show you these people.  Maybe for you it is your CrossFit gym.  Invite all 400 members.  Or invite your whole office or class at school. You know that 95% of them aren’t going to come, so you will have 15-20 attend. But it gives you an open to invite them into a relationship with you, and is a personal invite.

 Ask the Spirit for time with those people who are personally pushing into you and your family for relationship so you can ask them personally as well.  Don’t let them merely get the Facebook invite, do it “old school” and personally ask them if they are coming and that it’d be great if they did.  Everyone I have been given by the Spirit, and asked personally to come, almost everyone one of them has come.  It’s awesome, even if one of them is a fan of my opposing team. 

But, don’t stop there.

Ask the Spirit for guidance on listening to their story at the party and what you should say, or how you should listen or how to encourage further relationship.  Remember, yes be competitive and scream at the TV, however this isn’t about a football game. This whole party is wrapped up in story, so use this to learn other’s stories.   Maybe you do get into a deep spiritual conversation, but maybe you don’t.  Don’t beat yourself up. The Spirit will tell you when to speak, when to listen, when to keep it surface level and when to go deep.  Just because you don’t present all of the Romans’ Road to them doesn’t mean you should feel guilted and shamed.  The Spirit doesn’t guilt and shame you, that’s the devil’s game.

The more the devil can guilt and shame you the more you will see them as “a project” and you’ll have an agenda instead of listening to the Spirit on how to just love them and show off Jesus. Sometimes silence is the loudest witness.  Don’t let the devil fool you into thinking you have to speak the name of Jesus at every party for it to be a “successful” party.   But, always be thinking, how can I make this party be a shadow of our feasting and banqueting God that wants everyone invited to his party?

Take some time this week to ask, “Spirit, how can I ensure that what I say and do Monday night will be a shadow of your Story” (It’s a good thing to do everyday!)

Listen.  Then obey what the Spirit gives you.

If you do that…no matter what happens, your gathering will not be a failure, but will have happened by the power of the Spirit to bring people along as far as he wants them to so they might know more about the only story line that ultimately matters. And who knows…maybe he’ll show you even more about his Story so you can marvel at how large his Story really is, yet how much he carefully and specifically loves and hears your specific “small” requests.

 

Please share your thoughts and reflections in the comment box below.

 

Please share your thoughts or comments

Gary Liederbach- Lead Follower

One Direction Community

Email: garyl@onedirection.community

Website: https://www.onedirection.community

Facebook: One Direction Community-ODC

 

 

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