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Using Your Home for Influence

By Barbara Rainey

First posted on

Establishing your home as an embassy of the King of Kings is probably much less complicated than you think. One of the easiest ways to use your home for influence is to invite people over for a meal.

One of my favorite stories is about Rosaria Champagne, who at one time was an English professor at Syracuse and an avowed lesbian. After the local newspaper published an article by Rosaria criticizing the Promise Keepers men’s movement, she received a number of responses—mostly negative—but one positive response stood out. It was a kind letter from a local pastor, Ken Smith, who asked some challenging questions about her philosophical foundations. Intrigued, she decided to call Smith and asked him questions like, “Are you an evangelical? What do you believe about the Bible?”

Finally Smith said, “Dr. Champagne, I think that question should be considered in front of our fireplace following one of my wife’s good dinners. How does that sound?”

Rosaria replied, “That sounds wonderful!”

Later she wrote, “I really wanted to see how Christians lived! I had never seen such a thing! ... I was excited to meet a real born-again Christian and find out why he believed such silly ideas.”

A disarming dinner

She says the most memorable part of the evening was Ken’s prayer before they ate. “I had never heard anyone pray to God as if God cared, as if God listened, and as if God answered. ... It was a private and honest utterance, and I felt as though I was treading on something real, something sincere.”

Thus began a friendship and conversation that lasted for two years and many more meetings at the Smith home. Eventually Rosaria committed her life to Christ, and a few years later when she married Kent Butterfield, Ken Smith walked her down the aisle. (For more about this great story, read Rosaria Butterfield’s book, Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert.)

The Smiths recognized the special power of inviting people over for a meal. It gave them the opportunity to talk with and minister to people in a relaxed, nonthreatening setting. It’s a great way for people to see and experience God’s love in action. As 2 Corinthians 2:15 says, “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”

A hosting home

Another way to use your home for influence is to host small-group gatherings. If you belong to a small group at your church, for example, or if you are thinking of starting one, use your home as the base of your ministry. Or start a book club, a Bunko club, or a walking group with some neighbors like my daughter-in-law did. When it rained they did a workout in her garage. And I promise you their garage is not neat or clean! Everyone loved it.

Your home doesn’t need to look perfect—in fact it shouldn’t because real people live in messy houses, especially if you have kids. People will relax more when they see it’s not!

I remember when our six kids were little and a friend stopped by unannounced one day. For a few minutes I was mortified because the house was a disaster. Toys, laundry, and Cheerios everywhere. Later she told me she was so encouraged and felt so much better about her messy house because mine was too. A less-than-perfect home is a gift! It helps people relax.

Rob and Teresa were thinking “embassy” when they shopped for a new home. They wanted to use their home for community, especially for premarital mentoring with young couples. So the home they purchased had a large, open living room connected to the kitchen and dining area. Instead of meeting at a restaurant or coffee shop, each week of mentoring begins with a home-cooked meal in their home. The young couples find enrichment from the study but also from seeing them interact transparently in their home. Rob and Teresa have been a significant influence on dozens of young couples by the teaching and coaching, but also by the modeling of how to live your life in your home with others.

How do you know what direction is best for you and your family?

So much of it depends on what your interests and values are. Do you want your home to be the gathering place for your kids and their friends because you love students?

Do you find yourself drawn to the university culture? To faculty (like Rosaria in the story above), or international students who are lost in our American culture, or athletes or another student group?

Do you ache and long to help the marriages in your neighborhood or church or workplace?

Might God want to use you to befriend these people and make them feel the love of God in His embassy, your home?

Ask Him how He might use you and your family in His embassy! There are countless ways to love those around you in the setting of your home. God will guide you and show you who to welcome as He brings them your way.

May you experience the thrill of seeing God use you and your family as His ambassadors. There is nothing quite like it!


My Heart, Ever His: Prayers for Women (NEW from Barbara Rainey)

As we search for meaning in our world of shallow online relationships and glamorized selfies, many are returning to traditional and liturgical churches. The repeated words, benedictions, and historic hymns connect us to saints who have gone before, giving us a sense of belonging, richness, and transcendence. Written prayers, once cast off as archaic, are now welcomed as guides to tune our hearts to the heart of God.

In My Heart, Ever His Barbara Rainey shares 40 prayers for women. Readers can read and meditate on one prayer throughout the week or read a prayer a day for 40 days as a way to express the longing of our hearts to our Father who loves us even as he sees who we truly are. Like the psalms of David, these prayers are honest, sometimes raw. Barbara uses these transparent expressions of common female experiences to encourage us to surrender to Christ and help us see God as he is, not as we assume him to be. My Heart, Ever His provides a stepping-stone to help you become more transparent with God and discover his welcoming embrace.


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