In this episode of Mind + Heart, Phillip Holmes interviews Dr. Rosaria Butterfield. Rosaria Butterfield is a former tenured professor of English at Syracuse University, and the author of three books, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, Openness Unhindered, and The Gospel Comes with a House Key.
Holmes begins by asking Dr. Butterfield about her growing up and conversion. Dr. Butterfield describes her time as a professor living as a lesbian in New York during the AIDS crisis, and her subsequent conversion as a result of the hospitality of a Presbyterian minister in her neighborhood.
After a brief interlude discussing their shared love of coffee, Holmes plays Dr. Butterfield’s previous Wisdom Wednesday episode, “Why is true Christian hospitality so important?” Holmes asks Dr. Butterfield about her statement that “most Christians live on a starvation diet of hospitality. Dr. Butterfield talks about the difference between overly orchestrated and organic ways of doing hospitality and provides some examples.
Holmes asks Dr. Butterfield why this starvation diet exists. Dr. Butterfield discusses the effects of individualism on Christian hospitality and talks about the importance of recognizing that hospitality is a part of the mission of the church. She also explains the importance of setting consistent times for hospitality, the importance of hospitality as a tool for evangelism and Christian community, and the necessity of committing to the awkwardness that can come when practicing hospitality toward unbelieving neighbors.
Next, Holmes asks Dr. Butterfield about common misconceptions that Christians have about hospitality. Dr. Butterfield explains the importance of seeking out the stranger, committing to them, and letting go of the smaller details of housekeeping in favor of the inevitable mess that comes with Christian hospitality. Dr. Butterfield also talks about how hospitality helps build relationships for more explicit evangelism and her children’s involvement in her family’s practice of hospitality.
Dr. Butterfield suggests one step that Christians could take to improve their own practice of hospitality, advising open discussion between husbands and wives on the issue, purposefully looking out for those in the church who are on the margins of the community, teaming up with other Christian families, and remaining in the Word.
Holmes and Butterfield discuss the importance and value of the Word to correct our understanding of what hospitality is, the necessity of listening well to our neighbors for the purposes of advancing the gospel, and careful speech.
Mind + Heart Season 2 Episode 5: Hospitality
Keith Pinckney: Hi, this is Keith Pinckney. As a current student at Reformed Theological Seminary, I’ve been incredibly thankful for how RTS supports my fellow students and me as we prepare for a life of ministry. One of the ways that I’ve felt supported is by the seminary’s commitment to helping students graduate from seminary without additional student debt. As part of that commitment, RTS will participate in Giving Tuesday on November 30th, seeking 100 donations for need-based student aid. To partner with us, visit rts.edu/giving-tuesday. And if you’re listening to this episode after Giving Tuesday, it’s not too late to join us. Visit rts.edu/gift to learn more.
Phillip Holmes: Welcome to the Mind + Heart Podcast, which features interviews and more from the faculty and friends of Reformed Theological Seminary. We created this podcast to assist you in your daily quest to love God and love your neighbor. I’m your host, Phillip Holmes, and this week, I’m joined by my guest and my friend, Rosaria Butterfield.
Rosaria Butterfield is a former tenured professor of English at Syracuse University, and the author of three books, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, Openness Unhindered, and The Gospel Comes with a House Key. Rosaria is zealous for hospitality, loves her family, cherishes dogs, and enjoys coffee. Rosaria, welcome to the show.
Dr. Rosaria Butterfield: Hey, thank you, Phillip. It’s awesome to see you again.
Holmes: Likewise! Thank you for joining us and taking some time out to talk about hospitality today. So, as usual, before we dive into this week’s episode, I would love for you to share with our audience your origin story. Where did you grow up? How did you become a Christian? Who is Rosaria Butterfield?
Dr. Butterfield: She’s a mess! That’s who she is!
I grew up in Chicago, Illinois. I was named after the rosary, which is, of course, a great icebreaker if you’re a reformed Presbyterian pastor’s wife, right? ‘Rosaria’ is Italian for ‘rosary.’ And I went to Catholic schools throughout.
I met the Lord through a reformed Presbyterian pastor who was a neighbor of mine in Syracuse, New York. I was a couple of years just before tenure, and I was a lesbian activist, and—this was New York, the 90s. That’s when the AIDS epidemic was just, you know, ratcheting through my community in a way that was devastating and frightening and painful. And I finished my tenure book, and I was working on a book on the religious right because I was just really interested, basically, on why people like you hated people like me, just a, you know, everyday question. And in the process, I met a reformed Presbyterian pastor. His name is Ken Smith. He’s ninety-four. He’s still alive. We talked a couple of weeks ago and prayed together.
I ended up, I don’t know, probably having five hundred meals at his house [with] he and his wife, Floy, before I came to Christ. During that time, we read the Bible. We talked about everything under the sun, and two things were really shocking to me. I remember one time sitting at Ken and Floy’s table, and there was a whole group of people because that’s how they did hospitality—the way that my husband, Kent and I do hospitality. So a whole group of people finished the meal, we’re singing Psalm 23, and you know, I’m just thinking, “Oh, dear victim, here you are sitting among your enemies.” And it was really shocking to realize, no, actually, I’m the enemy at the table.
Hospitality simply is this: it is meeting the stranger and embracing that stranger as a neighbor, and meeting a neighbor, and by God’s power, embracing that neighbor as someone who will be part of the family of God.And then shortly after that, the Lord really convicted me that, although I thought I was on the side of justice and compassion and kindness and diversity and everything else, it was actually Jesus I was persecuting the whole time. So, ended up coming to Christ, ended up having to figure out the question of sexuality, and the question of identity, and the question of union with Christ. And all of that was very, very messy and hard, and throughout all of that, Ken and Floy and this whole little church were there for me. So I’m probably like about a million other people you’re going to meet who came to Christ because of the hospitality of a faithful Christian.
Holmes: That’s a beautiful story, and some of you may be familiar with it. There’s so much more — Rosaria dives into this in her book The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, as well as further thoughts in Openness Unhindered. So I would definitely encourage you guys to check those two books out, as well as her book on hospitality, which — we’re going to be diving a little bit deeper into that topic today — called The Gospel Comes With a House Key. So talk to me a little bit about what hospitality looks like in your home. And is there a lot of coffee involved? It’s one of the things you said — you love coffee. Right? Do you have a favorite brand?
Dr. Butterfield: You know, I don’t. I like local coffee. I like local everything. So I like what they roast and brew right here in Durham and in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Holmes: And [you] drink local brands. You prefer a dark roast. Like, is that a part of the routine? Like, do you guys have a hospitality routine where you’re eating at this time and then the coffee is going to come out and all that stuff? Like, how does that work?
Dr. Butterfield: OK, well, here. You got to hear this, though. You see, in my house, it’s my daughter and I are the ones who drink coffee. And our well-thinking neighbors. My good, godly, reformed Presbyterian husband has been overheard saying that he has the Holy Spirit, and I have coffee. So I think that’s an insult. I am pretty confident that’s an insult. But no, Kent is too pure to drink coffee. He just doesn’t drink it. Yeah. So basically, I just, you know, the coffee’s always brewing here.
Holmes: How many cups do you drink a day?
Dr. Butterfield: Well, you know, I’m almost 60, so I can’t do probably what you and Jasmine are able to do.
Holmes: Jasmine doesn’t drink coffee. And I just have one strong cup in the morning. Dark, no sugar.
Dr. Butterfield: Yeah, yeah. I have two cups. I try to stick to two cups a day. During the COVID years, especially during the government—you know, the whole shutdown—my daughter and I could not handle not leaving the house for anything. So we got jobs delivering food—and that’s a story unto itself—but I loved it. My daughter was able to make enough money to buy chickens and build a couple of chicken coops, and do that kind of thing. But I did find I needed a lot more than two cups of coffee, because there was a lot involved in delivering food in a pandemic.
Holmes: Yeah. And now it’s cold, too. So it’s the perfect time of the year, we’ll transition off of coffee because it’s like, “Is this a coffee podcast, or a Christian…?” Recently, we had you on our weekly video series called Wisdom Wednesday, and we asked you the question, “Why is true Christian hospitality so important?” So before we go any further, let’s take a moment and listen to Rosaria’s response to the question, “Why is true Christian hospitality so important?”
Dr. Butterfield: Christian hospitality is one of the most misunderstood concepts in the church today. So, what is hospitality? Hospitality simply is this: it is meeting the stranger and embracing that stranger as a neighbor, and meeting a neighbor, and by God’s power, embracing that neighbor as someone who will be part of the family of God.
Hospitality is not entertainment. It is not meant to show off what you know how to do well. Hospitality is living your transparent Christian life before a watching world that despises you. That kind of hospitality happens actually every day. We started practicing daily hospitality to respond to a crisis in our neighborhood, and we realized that the regularity of it was not only easier on our family, but very fruitful for evangelism. And here’s what it looks like. I mean, it’s not fancy at all. It means that at about 5:30, I am finished homeschooling my children, whether I’m finished or not. Someone should take me out of there for their good and my own. And it also means that at that time, people start wandering into our home. Many would start — many of the people who would start would be singles from our church. It’s extremely important to use hospitality to build up the family of God. It is extremely important for people who are sacrificially living a single life to know that they are part of a family that’s called the family of God, and family gathers daily.
Now here’s what hospitality is not: hospitality is not looking at your calendar and figuring out when you’ve got a little free time and shoving people into that. Because people’s crises don’t fit into your boundaries, I can guarantee it.The night is pretty predictable. We have table fellowship. We have a short Bible lesson that my husband leads. We often sing a psalm, and then we pray. And you don’t have to worry about what your unbelieving neighbors think, because they’re sitting there passing the potatoes, and they’ll be more than happy to tell you what they think. And what happens when you are in the practice of doing this, is you can take the gospel upstream of the culture war, where it belongs.
One of the biggest challenges Christians have today is they feel like the vocabulary has changed, especially with the sexual revolution. They don’t even know what to—how to call people anymore, and that can be very destabilizing. It can be disarming in the wrong kind of way. But when your relationships are as strong as the words you need to use, you’re not on thin ice, you’re on the rock of Christ. And it’s in that context that you start to see the Lord working in the lives of people.
Now here’s what hospitality is not: hospitality is not looking at your calendar and figuring out when you’ve got a little free time and shoving people into that. Because people’s crises don’t fit into your boundaries, I can guarantee it. This kind of hospitality might sound really kind of off the wall, but this was how I lived when I lived as a lesbian in the 1990s. And when I became a Christian, I really thought that Christians lived on a starvation diet of hospitality. They didn’t think so, but I thought so. And so, my hope is that as Christians see that it’s actually easier to do more than less, we’re going to see the fruit of gospel life being played out in our most desperate neighbors.
Holmes: So Rosaria, what do you mean when you say that Christians live on a starvation diet of hospitality?
Dr. Butterfield: Well, that might be a more historically rooted thing. I mean, I’m not sure that that’s really quite as true anymore because, again, we’ve been through the COVID lockdowns. And I think people really–that hit people hard enough to change some of their ways. But what I was saying in that Wisdom Wednesday was, other communities of which I have been a part — like the gay community in New York, by virtue of necessity — gathered together. Especially at — this was during that other pandemic called HIV, and we needed each other, and we needed — and even though we didn’t have the solutions that Christians have, we certainly had the questions. And God’s common grace can really be a good backdrop for the genuine, caring acts of a community.
So what I was saying is that it seemed [that way] to me when I first came into the church, whereas the gay and lesbian community gathered every day. I mean, there wasn’t a day in my LGBTQ community where somebody’s home wasn’t open for food and fellowship and conversation, and where everybody was invited. When I got to the church, all of a sudden everything was kind of like segregated, you know. Like, “A through M, bring this kind of dish and N through Z, that kind of dish.” And you know, “The first Wednesday of the month, we do it this way, and the second Lord’s Day —” and you know, you’re like, “Uh, what? Do I need a…?” So it just seemed very, I guess, just a little too orchestrated. Whereas, in the past, the communities of which I had been a part, they gathered organically.
If you tend to see hospitality as somebody else’s job, it’s going to be really sparse. It’s going to be really limited. But if you see it as your joy, your job, your contribution, it won’t be.The hospitality that I met at Ken and Floy Smith’s house definitely gathered organically. So it was a bit hit and miss. But I do think in general what I would still salvage from that comment — which I think is a bit dated — but what I would still salvage is that if you tend to see hospitality as somebody else’s job, it’s going to be really sparse. It’s going to be really limited. But if you see it as your joy, your job, your contribution, it won’t be.
Holmes: That’s really helpful. Here’s a follow-up question: you talk about starvation — I don’t think that that’s necessarily outdated. Because I don’t think that, at least in my experience, that hospitality happens nearly as much as it should. But one thing that — one trend that I do see is that typically, hospitality seems to be more frequent in communities that are experiencing some sort of marginalization. And this was true, I know, for the African-American community. I hear stories all the time. And you see this sort of same reality in the book of Acts. And I would imagine that this is probably similar to what you experienced in the 90s, even in the LGBT community. There was a sense of, “We have to stick together,” in a sense. And the only thread that’s, I think, connecting those three is marginalization.
So I guess my question is, do you think that for Christians, there’s a certain level of prosperity, privilege, acceptance, that has caused us to forget that we’re pilgrims passing through?
Dr. Butterfield: Yeah. And that’s just not going to last. I mean, we’ve been living with an economy that the king of Babylon would be envious of, right? So that ain’t going to last. Absolutely not. I think there are a number of things that are contributing to a starvation diet of hospitality, if we’re going to run with that. Which, I guess we’re going to run with that. So I’ll run with that.
One is a false sense that it’s an individual mission, rather than that it’s a mission of the church. So what hospitality is, is it’s, you know, it’s not the Butterfields or the Smiths or the Joneses, it’s the church. And the church understands that certain households probably are more able to be outposts for a variety of reasons. Like, for example, our home right now doesn’t have a seven-week-old, yours does. That makes a big difference. So it’s not that it’s not that we’re better at hospitality, it’s just that we might be an easier outpost. So that’s the first: that hospitality is a mission of the church, not a mission of an individual with an agenda.
The other is that some households are really good outposts. But they need some help. So if the church can identify a house that’s a good outpost, but maybe this is a newlywed couple and quite frankly, they can’t afford hot dogs for themselves right now, least of all other people–perhaps the church can create a kind of budget for that household. Because that’s a good outpost, but it just needs some resources.
Hospitality is something that is the product of genuine Christian conversion, a real understanding of redemption, vital repentance unto life, and a lot of prayer. It’s not done in the flesh.And then finally, hospitality is something that is the product of genuine Christian conversion, a real understanding of redemption, vital repentance unto life, and a lot of prayer. It’s not done in the flesh. And so there’s a maturity. There’s a Christian maturity, and there’s also a commitment to being awkward. Because at a certain point in the evening, conversation stops, and you know, the kids pass out Bibles and psalters, and your unbelieving neighbors pick this up and say, “What are we doing? What is this?” You know, because we don’t actually — we, Christians, do not believe that you’re going to catch the gospel by osmosis or something. We’re not just like, here hanging out. So there’s a certain commitment to being awkward, or to just having people stare at you like you’re crazy, and being different.
And then, you know, additionally, I would say there’s got to be a willingness to be very regular in this activity, because — at least, we have come to know that in our neighborhood, many, many, many of our neighbors are afflicted with either some level of addiction or abuse, and it might seem very nice to invite somebody to your house the second Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. But if that person doesn’t know if they’re going to be sober or safe that time, it’s not very helpful. But if you have a regular thing that you do, that can be very helpful, because if you regularly have people over Friday night as a kind of, almost like a kind of Christian open house, your neighbors, they’re going to be sober or safe one of those Fridays.
The point of hospitality is to share our lives as Christians. I mean, I know when I walked into Ken and Floy Smith’s house twenty-some years ago, I had never seen how Christians lived. I had no idea. I had no idea that that level of peace and harmony and fun was possible. I had never seen anything like it on the planet. And so, to just realize that the Lord’s giving you something to share.
Holmes: What do you think are some misconceptions Christians have when it comes to hospitality?
The point of hospitality is to share our lives as Christians.Dr. Butterfield: I think that the point of hospitality is to seek a stranger, right? Seek out strangers, seek them out, welcome them, really have a committed — have a commitment to be praying for them, to not forget them. I mean, that was something that Ken and Floy Smith did for me. They weren’t stalkers, but they didn’t let me go. They didn’t, and they could have. So to really — like the good Samaritan — to stay really connected to people, to think it through for the long haul with people, and ultimately to not be so focused on the small things.
But I would say this: each person’s hospitality, each Christian’s hospitality, is going to be different. I mean, I’m not a fussy cook. I’m not a fussy anything. I mean, sometimes — we have some guests, obviously, we’ll have some guests coming over tonight and some neighbors coming over tonight. And my kids are, you know, we’ve had a long day of school, and I’m talking to you now and we may get a chance to vacuum, we may not, ok? I don’t know. I mean, it’d be nice if we did because we have a lot of pets. But you know, we might not. That’s not the most important thing. I mean, it really just isn’t. But I know to some people, that would just drive them crazy.
So, I think to realize that just in the same way that your Christian life has a beautiful uniqueness to it, an exciting and necessary difference about it, so too is your hospitality. But ultimately, entertaining means you’re going to be focused on things like whether the plates match and that kind of stuff, you know? And ultimately, for a Christian, it’s not the meal that’s going to be memorable. It’s the genuine opportunity to hear people out and pray. And I remember that. I remember, as an unbeliever, sitting at Ken Smith’s table and thinking, “This is so disarming. Because in some ways, I do a lot of this. I have a lot of people. I host a lot of people. I’m Italian, I love to cook, I love to feed people, I love to take care of people.” But at my house and back in my lesbian days, it’s almost like the anxiety never ended. There was never enough political activism. There was never — we never arrived at a solution safe enough. And at Ken Smith’s house, and in all Christian homes, we talk about hard things. We talk about mysterious things. We talk about dangerous things. And then at a certain point, we gather our children, we gather ourselves, we bow our head, we pray to the Lord, and we leave all of it at the foot of the cross. And then we go on, and we have a good time. And we don’t carry that anxiety into the evening, or the next day. We leave it. We leave it with the God who made us and takes care of us.
Each person’s hospitality, each Christian’s hospitality, is going to be different.And I remember seeing that as an outsider, thinking, “If I really believed this, that would be amazing. It has to be true for me to believe it, but if I really believed it, that would be amazing. That’s an amazing way to live.” And so we want our unbelieving neighbors to see this.
We also want to create a space where lingering long over the dinner table is not done to make small talk, but it’s done to really hear the hearts of our neighbors. Because it helps — if you have a strong word, it helps if you have a strong relationship that can uphold that word. I’m not saying it’s — you know, there’s no chapter and verse in the Bible that says that. I appreciate the power of good street preaching. But my style is a strong word over a minestrone soup and coffee, with a long relationship with a neighbor I’m going to see tomorrow and the next day, and we’re going to help each other out in some other way. That’s my preferred style. But everybody is going to do it differently, and that’s fine.
Holmes: Kruger and I had this conversation on another episode where we essentially discussed the relational aspect of evangelism that has — [not] as popular or maybe not discussed nearly as much as street preaching or just kind of going out and knocking on doors and sharing the gospel, but the reality is what you’re saying is necessary and perhaps just as effective, or maybe some might say, more effective. But the Holy Spirit can use either-or.
Dr. Butterfield: Yeah, I mean, it’s certainly easier. I mean, as a stay-at-home mom, I am much more apt to engage in open-the-door evangelism than door-to-door evangelism. Right? I mean, like, just the reality is —
Holmes: Open-the-door evangelism or open-air evangelism.
We also want to create a space where lingering long over the dinner table is not done to make small talk, but it’s done to really hear the hearts of our neighbors.Dr. Butterfield: Yeah, yeah. My people are right here. My people are right here, and I’ve got plenty of room. And to that end, I would say too, I would want to add this one thing: hospitality isn’t about what grown-ups do. I mean, my children have been so necessary to hospitality. Now, they grew up. So, we have a family made up of adoption and foster care, you know. So we kind of start out looking a little different than everybody else. I mean, I was thinking about this, too, the other day, because we’ve been in this neighborhood long enough that I’ve watched these kids grow up and they know they can come for dinner. They know that they can stay here when they need to. It’s not even a question.
And at this point, they’re old enough. The gospel comes with a house key, but if you’re a teenager and you’re and you’re eating my food, the gospel also comes with a chore chart, right? You know what I mean? They know how to clean my house. They know where the vacuum cleaner bags are to change the bags. And they ask hard questions. These are not kids that are all raised in Christian homes. They have hard questions, but they’ve sat at this dinner table along with the adults. They’ve heard the hard questions, and they’ve asked the hard questions. And we’ve prayed together, and we’ve watched the Lord work in their lives. And that’s powerful stuff.
But my kids know that the answer is yes. “Can the kids come over for —?” Well, yes, of course. You know, I mean, if you need to eat cereal, you’ll figure that out. It’s not the end of the world.
Holmes: So what is one step that every Christian can take to practice better hospitality?
Dr. Butterfield: First thing is, if you’re a house with a husband and a wife and kids, pray, and let your husband lead. Let your husband lead. If your husband needs your home to not be the outpost, then that’s God’s will. So now, go figure out what in the church is the outpost, [and] see if you can help. Look around for the people in your church who need to be included not by invitation only, but just because they’re part of the family of God, specifically the singles. Make sure the singles in your church know, “Oh, you know you work at Duke University? Well, we’re ten minutes. Why don’t you just come over on your way home from work and have dinner with us and devotions?” There you go. Just make it regular.
And also, do it together as a church. Families working together in both hospitality and mercy ministry is amazing. I mean, there are so many things, so many things that Kent and I and our household could not do by ourselves. But add one more Christian family, and it’s really doable.
We’ve worked very closely with an organization called Safe Families for Children. We’ve also had people who have been displaced by homelessness living in our homes. And what we have found — I know this sounds, like, crazy, but it has not been crazy. This has actually been kind of normal — what we have discovered, and especially if you’re working through with an organization like, say, Families or other things, there are strangers that you know nothing about and there are strangers that you actually know more about them than they know about you. You know what I’m saying? Like, that’s kind of — think about that for a minute. When you have two families in the church trying to help one family displaced by homelessness, you could cover a lot of ground. Just like with the good Samaritan, you can look at that and imagine the steps that need to happen for that man to get back on the road. And likewise, with a family, a displaced family, the idea isn’t to just perpetuate dependence, but to help people get up and out.
You have something to share with others that isn’t just a good meal. We’re not just buying time. We’re not just agreeing to disagree. It’s much bigger than that.And I think, too, another important thing to prepare for good hospitality, is to really make sure that you are so deeply in the Word. You have something to share with others that isn’t just a good meal. We’re not just buying time. We’re not just agreeing to disagree. It’s much bigger than that. These are immortal souls, and we have some — we bear some responsibility for what they do or don’t hear, what they do or don’t know.
Holmes: That’s good. Rosaria, this has been such a helpful and insightful interview. It seems to me that one of the things that you mentioned early on in the interview that, I think, just continues to ring true throughout, is the importance of us not trying to do this in our own flesh. The importance of prayer and the importance of spending time in the word. Because that’s what puts all of this in perspective.
In a previous episode, I talked to Dr. John Fesko, and he mentioned the noetic effects of sin, and how that affects our mind. And I just keep thinking about that in almost every type of situation, and how the Word of God is what corrects our vision, corrects our flawed thinking. And so we need the Scriptures to reveal these things to us. And I think that when it comes to things like hospitality, the reality is that you don’t really know what true hospitality looks like unless you go to the Scriptures. Because it’s not done out of self-interest. Kingdom of God is done out of love and concern for other people. You consider others more important than yourself.
So the only place where you find that type of revelation is in the Word of God, and we have to constantly be reminded that this is not about making us look good. And if we’re not in the Word constantly, we can easily forget that, so.
Dr. Butterfield: And we don’t want to underestimate what the lockdowns and the church closures and all of that — what that has done to even our brothers and sisters in Christ. I really believe it almost inserted a kind of DNA of fear, laziness, you know, “Hey, I can just Zoom in and eat my oatmeal while I’m watching a sermon,” you know, like, it just really torqued us in a terrible, terrible way.
So I think that there is something very grounding about lingering long, face-to-face, at the dinner table. I think there’s something very powerful about that if the Word of God is central. If we’re just kind of hanging out, well, that’s not necessarily sinful. It’s just not Christian hospitality
Christians are really struggling from short-term memory problems right now. We think speech is just what we just said right now in this very moment.Holmes: And the importance of listening, too. Getting to know people. I think that the gospel, the words, the truth, the beauty of the gospel, is better applied when you know, and have taken time out, to listen to the people that you’re engaging in, that you’re talking to.
Dr. Butterfield: Again, I know my friends who are street preachers who would say, “Oh, but there’s not a verse in the Bible,” and that’s true. But I think some of it might just also come down to the question of style and comfort level. You know, and maybe calling. You know that there is a gospel bridge to every human being. So taking a little time to just listen to their lives can be very helpful in how you walk that bridge to them.
Holmes: Yeah, I mean, I can’t help but think about — I recently preached on Proverbs 18. And, verse 2, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his own opinion.” So, of course, proverbs are not true for every single situation. So this doesn’t mean that street preaching or open-air evangelism doesn’t have a place, but the Bible does place a high priority on listening. I mean, we see this in James as well. Be quick to hear, slow to speak. And so, I think that as you just put it, we have to make sure that we’re being guided by the Holy Spirit, and that we’re exercising wisdom when choosing, and not just say, “Hey, this is the time for this, or, this is the time for that.”
Dr. Butterfield: And we don’t want to be foolish and say speech is just what I do at the dinner table. Speech is also what your social media presence says. So, you know, I’ll tell you, of the best ways to ruin your evangelism, to ruin your reputation in your neighborhood with anybody, is to spend too much time on Twitter.
Holmes: One hundred percent.
Dr. Butterfield: If somebody wanted to rewrite C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters with a sense of, just, the foolishness of Christians and their social media presence. So, I think we’ve got to be careful about what counts as speech because Christians have a very — Christians are really struggling from short-term memory problems right now. We think speech is just what we just said right now in this very moment. No.
Holmes: And the internet doesn’t forget.
Dr. Butterfield: And your neighbors don’t.
Holmes: No, you’re right. Even if they can’t necessarily remember specifically, it’s the impression that that left. Rosaria, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been an absolute pleasure catching up with you.
Dr. Butterfield: The pleasure has been all mine, and I’ll be praying for your growing household. I’m so excited for you and Jasmine. That’s awesome. Holmes: Thank you. And thank you for tuning in, and we hope you enjoyed this week’s episode featuring Rosaria Butterfield. I also would like to thank the RTS family, church partners, students, alumni, and donors for the many ways you make the work of Reformed Theological Seminary possible. The clip we listened to earlier is from our weekly video series Wisdom Wednesday, where relevant matters of the Christian faith are addressed by RTS faculty and friends with truth, candor, and grace. Access our entire archive or submit a question at rts.edu/wisdom-wednesday. Mind + Heart is powered by Reformed Theological Seminary, where we desire to raise up pastors and other church leaders with a mind for truth and a heart for God.