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Free in Christ: Personal witnessing

Two WELS members share how they “let [their] light shine” (Matthew 5:16) in the world.

Lori and Brent Ryan, members at Holy Trinity, New Hope, Minn., use in-home hospitality to foster relationships, leading to opportunities to share their faith and invite others to church.

Q: Why are you passionate about in-home hospitality?

Lori Ryan
Lori Ryan

People are craving in-person relationships and meaningful connections. In-home hospitality is a unique tool that offers countless opportunities for connection and evangelism. By trusting God to bless our efforts, we can confidently open our home to nonbelievers in a welcoming and loving way. In the home, nonbelievers can observe our Christ-centered lifestyle, and we have an opportunity to build and strengthen relationships. We may be the only Christians our neighbors or coworkers interact with, and this interaction can help counter negative stereotypes. As we build these relationships, we have more opportunities to share why our lifestyle is centered on Christ.

Inviting people into our homes is a vulnerable act, and people sense that. This is important because it can be intimidating for nonbelievers to accept an invitation to attend church. We are asking them to be vulnerable by participating in a setting that may be unfamiliar. By inviting them into our homes first, we are signaling we are willing to be vulnerable. People may be more receptive to an invitation to church or a spiritual discussion after they have been invited into our homes. They may also be more likely to come to us to seek advice during challenging times in their lives.

Q: What does in-home hospitality look like for your family?

My family has used different hospitality formats over the years, including hosting one-on-one gatherings, impromptu suppers, formal dinner parties, and larger events for our neighborhood and community. Each event type has its strengths and weaknesses. Our decision to use different approaches has reflected our changing life circumstances, including our children’s ages and our work schedules. We are currently experimenting with a weeknight two-hour cocktail party format designed for 15 to 20 people. This format allows people to make and strengthen relationships in a Christian home setting.

Q: Whom do you invite to these events?

Because there are so many opportunities for in-home hospitality, they can quickly become overwhelming. Prayer helps us to discern how hospitality can be incorporated into our unique situations, identify needs, and determine if in-home hospitality can meet those needs.

We are intentional about the purpose of our in-home events and whom we invite. For example, a church member mentioned she did not feel connected to parents who send their children to our day school. That comment prompted us to host a cocktail party for church members and school parents. The goal of that gathering was to strengthen relationships between church members whose children are grown and school parents who may not have a church home.

We can offer hospitality wherever we live—a dorm room, family homes, or a nursing home room. The opportunities for in-home hospitality are endless and change over time. Prayer helps us to focus on our unique opportunities. Ultimately, God is the source of perfect hospitality. While we were strangers, God reached out to us. Motivated by his example, let’s reach out to non-believers by opening our home to them.

Watch a webinar on biblical hospitality hosted by WELS Women’s Ministry. 

Lori Ryan


Steve Hansen, a member at Gloria Dei, Belmont, Calif., works as an executive for a company based in East Asia. His travels offer him many opportunities to let his light shine in a dark world.

Q: How do you witness in a land that is not only mostly devoid of Christianity but also potentially hostile to it?

It’s a wonderful opportunity to take the Word of God to people who you know will probably never, ever hear it anywhere else. I look at the people whom I work with and think, How would they ever hear about it? How would they ever know? And here I am, standing right in the midst of them. My way is just letting my light shine, and they come to you like a moth to the light. They come to you because they see that you’re different and you handle adversity differently.

Q: What do you mean, let your light shine?

Steve Hansen
Steven Hansen

The Lord talks about how through your patience, your love, and your forbearance, you let it be known that you are different. That’s the way I do it. I’m put somewhere in which Christ is not maybe known well or at all, and then I just live my life in thanksgiving to God, always trying as best as I humanly can to do those things that reflect well my Christian faith. I don’t use curse words. I don’t get angry at people. I try to work with everybody, no matter who they are. I’m kind to everybody. I try to be an open invitation for people to approach me. When you show at work that you care for them, when you show that you worry about their final outcomes and you’re going to work with them, then, when in their personal lives they start to have issues, they start coming to you with those as well. That, then, ultimately leads to a conversation.

Here in East Asia, I continue to strive to let the Lord’s light shine through supporting others and being a help in the workplace. And as a result, I had my first opportunity to give “God’s Great Exchange” to a coworker. The question was asked, “So, in Christianity a guy was dead but now he is alive . . . I don’t understand.” I know that all I need to do is speak the gospel message, and the Spirit will accomplish whatever is the Lord’s will. But I do pray the gospel message takes root.

You don’t have to force it. God brings them to you, and he does it all the time. Some people listen; some people don’t. Some people want to hear more; some people you mention one word and you can tell they’re already closing the door. But that does not stop you from letting your light shine. You just have to be yourself and proclaim the love of God that’s in your heart.

The Lord chooses us to carry his Word to the rest of the world, but even if we carry it, it isn’t our power that makes it work. I’ve missed my fair share of opportunities because I got distracted. But I know that when I speak the Word of God, the power is in the Word. It’s not in my voice or my approach. God promises that his Word will accomplish whatever it was set out to do. All I have to do is speak it.

Q: You must be very outgoing to be able to live so boldly?

All of our lights are different, but it’s always the light of Christ. Some people are more friendly, more outgoing. Some people are extroverts, some introverts. But it’s not about that. It’s more about if you are an open invitation to hear about Christ.

Learn more about how to connect unchurched people in your life to the gospel in the Let’s Go Bible study, found at welscongregationalservices.net/lets-go.

Steve Hansen

Author: Multiple authors
Volume 111, Number 03
Issue: March 2024

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This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series Free in Christ

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