Ezer Equipped | Nourishing our Faith by Making Room for Others
Topics: Ezer, Hospitality, Making Room, Nourishing, Others
When my kids were little and people would come over, I always apologized for how our house looked. I’d ask them to excuse the dishes in the sink or laundry on the couch. Then one day, a friend challenged me, saying, “You do live here! What do you think people expect?” I needed to hear these words, and her perspective changed the way I began to view the typically messy space inside my house. I wanted our home to be a place where people would feel welcomed at any time—but before that could happen, I had to be okay with it.
We’ve been in a series on Nourishing our Faith. We have looked at how our faith grows through the study of Scripture as well as through prayer and worship. This month, we want to talk about how making room for others helps us grow in our faith. Expanding our circle of relationships can look like having people over, inviting others out to eat, or including someone new in your friend group. We need more of all of this! As a culture, we crave connection and community, but so few people actually offer it in meaningful ways.
Making room for others is much bigger than hospitality. It also means coming alongside others in order to meet their needs and help them grow—which will probably end up being disruptive for us! We may have to set aside our comforts and deplete our resources for the benefit of others who are in a difficult or different season than us. Getting involved in a person’s life in such a way that you feel responsible for them involves risk. Making room for others is more about your personal commitment and responsibility to a person, rather than checking a box by donating a few hours to serve with your favorite organization.
If making room for others comes at such a high personal cost, why do we think this is such an important discipleship issue? Simply put, it's how we grow.
- We grow when we handle something for someone that they can’t handle themselves.
- We grow when we set aside our own plans and prioritize someone else’s needs.
- We grow when our limitations and sin patterns get exposed as we care for others.
- We grow when the complexities of a relationship force us to rely on God rather than ourselves.
- We grow when our assumptions about people who are different from us are challenged as we actually get to know them and listen to their stories.
- We grow when we choose to invest in someone else’s spiritual and emotional maturity rather than our own comfort and pleasure.
No doubt, making room for others will be messy, complex, and difficult. But did you know that making room for others also means inviting others into your life to walk alongside you?
We are not designed to do any of this on our own. As we navigate this life, we need an authentic faith community where we can be vulnerable about our own sin and suffering, but one that is not afraid to offer us both the comfort and challenge of the gospel. Building that kind of community is not easy. It takes effort. Authentic community usually begins when someone in the group is willing to be honest about what they are carrying. We call this the gift of going first. It's one of the ways that God uses our own stories to help others grow.
Making room for others is how we live out the mercy and grace that we have received from God. This responsibility is not optional for believers, but how we demonstrate it individually will vary. This is why we encourage women to regularly revaluate how their season of life, responsibilities and individuality may be influencing their capacity and energy to serve others. If we want to be good stewards of what God has entrusted to us, we have to ask ourselves, “What does faithfulness in this area look like for me, right now?”
The idea of making room for others is challenging. If I am honest, I’d prefer that no one actually see my house when it's a wreck. I’d rather spend an evening binge watching Netflix than having a family over for dinner. It would be easier not to have someone live with us when they need a fresh start. I’d choose a weekend to accomplish my to-do list rather than helping a family move, or meeting a friend for coffee rather than a new mom who needs some encouragement.
But if I had my way, what fruit would that produce? How would I ever grow? What would I be like in ten years?
As we consider how making room for others nourishes our faith, we will be spending this month in the book of Ephesians. Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus helps us understand how our relationship with God and what he has done for us, reframes how we live in relationship with others. We hope you will read it in its entirety—maybe even more than once!
We’ve also included several resources and next steps—instead of letting that overwhelm you, just pick one to explore. As always, we encourage you not to engage this topic alone—ask someone to work through this month’s newsletter or one of the additional resources with you!
As Paul says in his letter to Philemon, “I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things you have in Christ.” (1:6)
For The Ezer Women’s Discipleship Team
This month, as we consider what it looks like to make room for others and grow in the areas of hospitality, giving our lives away for others, and building authentic community, we want to let the book of Ephesians be our guide. You can read and study the whole book by using the seven arrow resource we mentioned in our May newsletter.
We’ve selected a few passages that summarize the message of this book. In the first three chapters of Ephesians, Paul goes into great detail praising God for the blessings he has provided. Ask yourself:
What do I learn about God's character and the extent of Christ’s work? Make a list of every word or phrase in these three chapters that describes what Christ has done for you.
God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.
Beginning in chapter four and for the remainder of the book, Paul describes how we live in response to what Christ has done for us. He even begins chapter four with the word therefore, which is his way of reminding us that everything he is about to tell us to do is fueled by what he has just told us Jesus has done. Our capacity to make room for others is rooted in what Christ has done for us. Because he loves us, makes room for us, and invites us to himself, we can do the same for others. As you read these passages, look at the list of descriptions you created from the first three chapters and consider the implications of how what God has done for us can inform and transform the way we live in relationship to one another.
Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
In this video, Anne Marie, Ashley, and Gloria share how through mentoring, a special bond was formed that changed all of them. This is a beautiful picture of how when we give our lives away- God changes us!
“This relationship has grown me. I've realized that there are things that I can’t fix about myself. It’s the Lord’s doing, it’s the Lord’s work.”
Why Serving Serving is a Discipleship Issue- This Grace Church podcast features a conversation with LeeAnne Cavin where she describes serving and how it moves us from a self-oriented outlook to an outlook that is focused on others.You can also find the episode on Spotify and iTunes.
“I think sometimes we have compartmentalized serving down to a specific role or event, and I think that's where we get into trouble . . . To me, serving is giving your life away. Now that could look many different ways, and so it could be a specific serving role, but I think it's also an orientation of the heart and how you go about life in general.”
We encourage you to use these conversation starters as a means of self-reflection and for discussion within your community.
1.We believe that making room for others is a discipleship issue. Which means we believe that this is not optional for the believer. We have talked about three ways that we can do this in the areas of hospitality, being in proximity and on the hook for someone different than you, and being committed to and invested in an authentic biblical community.
- Which of these three is easiest for you? Why?
- Which is the most challenging? Why?
2. For each of these categories, answer the following questions:
- What is your biggest fear? What might be at the root of these fears?
- What is the biggest obstacle that keeps you from making room for others?
- As you have laid down your life for others, what have you learned about yourself and what has been exposed?
- How have you grown in spiritual maturity and benefited from making room for others?
3. In order to live this out intentionally, we are going to have to make choices about how and where we spend our energy, time, and resources. Each of these has been entrusted to us–in whatever measure—to steward faithfully. What this looks like will depend on our individuality and fluctuate with our season of life. We don’t want to deplete ourselves to the point of spiritual and emotional unhealth, nor do we want to indulge our own comforts to the point where there is no room for others. As you compare two serving opportunities or evaluate where to deploy your strength, consider this question:
- Which opportunity will produce more fruit for the kingdom and help me grow into a spiritually mature follower of Christ?
Scripture warns us not to be just hearers of the Word but to be doers of it as well. All of life is repentance. What is a believable next step God is calling you to take in response to all you’ve learned? Pick one or two of the below steps to take.
Next steps for hospitality:
- Make extra food! Keep it on hand to deliver or freeze for a neighbor, a widow, divorcee, single mom, or someone else who may need to feel the tangible love of Christ.
- If you sit in the same spot in church each week, start getting to know those around you and make plans to get together outside of church.
- When you sit down for a worship service, take a moment and notice anyone sitting near you who may be alone. Make an effort at some point to go over and talk to them or even invite them to sit with you!
- Identify three groups of people you want to invite over this summer—then do it. Keep it casual and simple!
Next steps for being responsible for others:
- Get involved with Front Porch Housing. There are multiple ways to be a part of this new ministry as we literally make room for hundreds of new residents in our supportive housing community. Depending on your season of life, your involvement can range from purchasing items off the Amazon wish list, cleaning and setting up apartments, or mentoring and building long term relationships with residents.
- Our Disciple Three initiative is a tool that helps us focus on the responsibility that God has given us to get intentional in that way that we invest in others, meet their needs, and help them grow in their relationship with God. Who has God brought into your life that you could make an investment in? You can pick up a Disciple Three card at your campus or print one out here.
- Mentoring gives you the opportunity to get involved in someone's life in a purposeful way that helps both of you grow. We have over 700 people in Re:Gen right now, and each one either has or needs a mentor! Mentor Training is provided and is a guided process. Send us an email at [email protected] and we will help you get connected to one of our many mentoring opportunities. Of course, mentoring can be done organically as well. Is there someone you could ask to begin a mentoring discipleship relationship with you?
- Serve with Mosaic Inspire, our weekday adult discipleship ministry that disciples and equips adults with special needs within our church. This group of adults participates in Bible study, learns life skills and hobbies, runs a monthly coffee house, and much more. Supper Clubs and Respite Nights are also held monthly for families. You can serve individually or as a group. Please email [email protected] or visit the Mosaic webpage for more information.
Next steps for building community:
- Share this newsletter with a friend or group of friends and set aside a time to work through it together this month.
- Register for one of our Ezer studies during this fall and ask one or two ladies from the group to partner with you in prayer throughout the study, help you put into action what you are learning, and meet outside group time.
- If you are not participating in a form of biblical community, how do you need to move to get connected? If you are part of one, take a step by sharing on a deeper level and revealing more of yourself.
- Go for a walk with a friend, to the park with your kids and their friends, or have coffee with someone and share your burdens, prayer requests, or a circumstance you need clarity on. Being vulnerable is not easy, but it is the foundation of deep friendships.
Ezer Teaching Videos: These videos might be helpful as you evaluate your Energy and Responsibility and what faithful Stewardship in every Season looks like.
The Gospel Comes With A House Key, by Rosaria Butterfield paints a jarring picture of hospitality that is both radical and ordinary—and extends to those outside our comfortable circle of family and friends. If you would rather read an article, this interview with Rosaria Butterfield discusses the distinctions between Christian hospitality and Southern hospitality: Christian Hospitality is Radically Different from “Southern Hospitality”
Just Show Up: The Dance of Walking through Suffering Together by Kara Tippitts and Jill Lynn Buteyn takes us deep inside the circle of friends who walked with Kara through her journey with cancer. If you want to know what it looks like to be known and loved in the messiness of life and how showing up for others helps you grow—this little book does all that and more!