John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Matthew 25:35 “For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
Christian hospitality is sometimes thought of as just a practice of being polite or kind even to strangers. I have attended many churches where that description would certainly apply to the reception I received. It was certainly polite, and I suppose it could be classified as kind – but I certainly did not feel welcome. Jesus expects more of us. In fact, Jesus commands it! By practicing radical hospitality in everything we do we expose ourselves as being not just self-proclaimed Christians but true and practicing disciples of Jesus Christ!
In the many years of my adult church-life there are only two churches that I visited and then came to be an active member of the congregation. There was one thing common of the two and that was the key to my staying and participating: members of both churches unfailingly displayed radical hospitality in everything they did. Radical hospitality extended from greeting visitors and congregants at the door to serving in the kitchen for Wednesday night dinners; walking into a new bible study group; serving on a mission to assist with the cleanup of a neighborhood; helping to prepare and serve food at a local outreach effort. Radical hospitality permeated every facet of worship, ministries, missions and administration. Even the valued facilities managers adopted the principle of radical hospitality and the clean and welcoming nature of the buildings reflected that dedication.
I hope you will be with me in our study of Five Principles of Fruitful Congregations. You can start by watching this video as I talk more about radical hospitality and the two churches I found that practice it!
- Remembering the first time you visited Lake Deaton UMC, did you feel welcomed?
- What would you do to improve what a visitor feels or sees when visiting LDUMC for worship, classes or events?
Prayer: Lord Father, instill in us a burning desire to do as You would do and help us to embrace and obey Your commandment to love others as we have loved you. Help us to shed our fear and shyness about greeting others in Your name and welcoming them as our brothers and sisters. Open our eyes and ears to others so we can see what they see and hear what they hear and use that to make them feel welcome and loved by us. Amen