Fall is such a beautiful time of the year. Vibrant colors are everywhere and pumpkins abound!
For those of us who have the privilege of living in a rural setting, it’s like God paints a masterpiece each day on the canvas of nature stretched out before us. It’s unfortunate, but many people do not have the opportunity to experience the outdoors as readily. To help bridge the gap between urban and rural, many farm owners have turned to an industry called “Agritourism.” I have spent more than 22 years working in this industry.
Today, the average person is three to five generations removed from a family farm. Grandma and Papa no longer own a farm that the grandkids can go visit to learn about crops, gardens, food and animals. This disconnect surfaces in some unexpected ways. Many people are left not knowing where their food comes from, how certain crops are grown, harvested or stored, or how animals are humanly raised as part of the food chain.
Farmers who participate in Agritourism open their farm gates and allow the general public to come visit, so they can learn this information. They provide fun, interactive, educational activities and festivals that help people of all ages become more familiar with the agrarian lifestyle.
Sure, many of these farms profit financially from guests coming. However, there are those who open their farm to the public simply because they believe in the lifestyle. They are motivated to share the farming lifestyle they love so dearly with people who otherwise may never get to experience it. They believe in it. Just as there is a disconnect between people who live on a farm and those who don’t, there’s also a disconnect between those who know Jesus as their personal Savior and those who don’t.
It is not always easy or convenient for farming families to open their farm gates to the public. It causes them extra work, and it increases their risks. But, to those who passionately want to share their lifestyle, it is worth it.
As Christians, we are supposed to share things about our way of living as well. All too often, we seek to live out the Great Commission in comfort by simply inviting our friends to church. We think, “If they will just come, they will have the opportunity hear the Gospel message and accept Christ,” and after that, we won’t really have to do too much more.
Don’t get me wrong. Inviting our friends to church is important, and we should do that, but we’re expected to not only do some casual inviting but to live out our faith each day in a more personal and costly way. The Bible teaches us that hospitality is not an option. It is a requirement. It’s in our homes where we have the opportunity to sit around our tables, share a meal and truly get to know people. It is there that we can live out our faith in living color and share it with all who enter.
Rosaria Butterfield wrote an insightful book titled, “The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World.” She states, “Those who live out radically ordinary hospitality see their homes not as theirs at all but as God’s gift to use for the furtherance of His kingdom. They open doors; they seek out the underprivileged. They know that the Gospel comes with a house key.”
When we invite and welcome people of all walks into our homes, we have a task before us. First, we must clean it! Then, we need to plan and prepare in order to be an intentional host or hostess. We need to know God’s Word firsthand, so that we’re comfortable sharing it, and we must be passionate about seeing others come to know Christ. It might not always be easy or convenient, and it will always cause us extra work and increase our risks, but it’s worth it. “Be hospitable to one another without complaint” (I Pet. 4:9).
This fall, if you have a chance to visit a pumpkin patch, thank the farmers and then go home and open your own farm gates!