Nicole has started a series on Christian hospitality on her 168hrs blog. I'm looking forward to reading it.
One of the things I wonder is what the evangelistic impact would be for a church if they cancelled an evangelistic event with a band and a speaker and instead gave out $20 gift vouchers for the local supermarket, Coles or what have you. Not random handing out, mind you, but all part of a thought-out hospitality plan.
So, let's suppose you had been planning to go all out with advertising, band payment, speaker, hire a coffee machine, good PA system etc at a cost of $1500. Instead, you spend the money on the $20 vouchers and end up with 75 vouchers. You then give a voucher to each family in the congregation, along with the weekly church news sheet, and you encourage them to use the evening that they had set aside for your big church shindig inviting a non-church friend or two 'round for dinner.
The $20 wouldn't cover costs but it would help. Some might even donate their $20 voucher to another person in the congregation to help make their hospitality work a bit better. You could have some people who would combine forces and organize a get-together for people in their street, if they were that way inclined.
And in all this, no pressure to download the gospel on the visitors' poor unsuspecting heads would need to happen; no evangelistic conspiracy need be involved. You wouldn't even use it as a sneaky way to advertise the church. Just a real opportunity to show friendship to people you might be too busy to see otherwise, and some help in doing what all Christians should be doing anyway, which is offering hospitality to others.
Where the individuals doing the inviting took this would be entirely up to them. But from the church's point of view, it would be making a powerful statement that you didn't want to eat up all your congregation members' time by putting on church activities, as terrific as they are. Then later in the year, when you run your Simply Christianity course or what have you, and encourage church members to invite friends, they might actually have someone they could ask to come along!
By the way, if there's a hole in this idea that I haven't spotted yet, don't blame Nicole. Any shortcoming in this cunning plan is entirely mine. Her post got me thinking, and if people have ways of improving this concept or have seen something similar in action, don't hesitate to add your comment here.