Imagine the joy of the early Christians as the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit made the church grow by leaps and bounds. Imagine also the huge challenge of welcoming all those new folks into their fellowship. How did they do it?
And how do we do it?
To be honest, so often we don’t work hard enough at practicing hospitality. If we insisted on truth in advertising from the pulpit the same way we do over the airwaves, might we be startled to hear the Pentecost worship service opened like this?
“Welcome, if you’re an active member with an outgoing personality. If not, then you’re not exactly welcome, but we’ll tolerate you and hit you up for a few bucks during the collection.
“Same deal for you visitors. We’re glad your warm body fills up another empty space because we like a full church. But you’re sitting where we always sit, so we have to go sit somewhere else—and now someone else is looking daggers at us. . .
“Please stick around after the service so we can collectively ignore you and guiltily peek at you out of the corners of our eyes as we’re talking to our friends. We don’t think you’d actually want to talk to us anyway because we’re no good at talking to strangers.
“If you brought the kids, sorry you couldn’t find the nursery. But you get a second chance. Before the sermon you can shoo them down the aisle and out the door along with the rest of the madding crowd. You have an even chance that they’ll find the right room and won’t spend the rest of the service whimpering in the stairwell.”
I know, I know. I’m being harsh and maybe more than a bit unfair to you and your church. But it’s so easy for us to ignore what Pentecost reveals: the good news that by the pouring-out of God’s Spirit the walls have come down—the walls between Jew and Gentile, between rich and poor, and between residents and aliens.
Do we still believe the Spirit will “add to our number daily those who are being saved”? Then a smoothly functioning ministry of hospitality should be right at the top of our agenda. Who makes sure this happens in your congregation? Do you have a plan; someone to administer the plan? Do you educate and encourage each and every member in the basics?
This stuff is crucial, and it’s not rocket science. Let’s learn together to show real down-home hospitality to those the Spirit sends our way. Let’s embody together the Good News we share.
Watch Your Mail Boxes
I realize it’s hardly prudent to administer a kick in our collective pants on the topic of hospitality, then turn around and ask you to reach for your wallets. Nevertheless, we really do need your financial support to continue The Banner’s “kitchen table” ministry. Please consider a donation when you receive our annual written request. Thanks so much for your generosity. —BDM