Folks, today is Friday, April 24, 2015.
The Culture of Hospitality could mean: Welcome + Friendliness + Warmth + Kindness + Generosity + Cordiality + Openness. The church welcomes all, is friendly, warm, kind, and generous in many different ways, can be cordial and is open to the possibilities of future relationships.
Reflect with me on a time when you went to visit another church, or a gathered community, or an event where most of the folks knew one another but you did not know a soul. I have been there and felt lonely in a crowded room. I have shared with some small groups about experiences as a District Superintendent (DS) early in my tenure of visiting some churches and not feeling welcomed or acknowledged as a guest. [Side note: Visitors visit, always in a non-predetermined time. A guest is one who you are preparing to receive during a specified movement…and so, you make that location a place of welcome with anticipation, with anxiousness for everything to be just-right, and have things in their place.]
The church is no different. We have Guest Parking. We have designated spaces for those who are not members to have the best parking spots, and why not? We are anticipating their arrival. We have brought out our best. We are ready with anticipation. We have “vacuumed the floors.” When this is done spiritually as well, there is a genuine sense that the stranger is welcomed. That individual is looking to hear a word of hope, a handshake with a smile and a familiar Christian welcome that makes all the difference.
The first part of this article was sent in July 2013, early in my arrival to Duncanville. I firmly believe that words of hospitality are timeless, however there is a difference between being hospitable and being evangelistic. One welcomes the stranger, while the other invites the stranger. Both are important and necessary. More on the latter forthcoming in future articles.
Ask yourself, are your gifts more suited to welcome or invite the stranger? Pray and hear what God is leading you to be and become.
Shalom + Paz + Pax + Peace,
Pastor Frank (firstname.lastname@example.org)
…for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…Matthew 25:35