Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations Radical Hospitality

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1 Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations Radical Hospitality When we began to think about this topic of Radical Hospitality and what images or props would help illustrate it, I put the question to people on Facebook, the Internet social networking site. There were many suggestions, but as soon as Be Our Guest was mentioned I knew I had to use it. Why? Well, look at the situation. You have a young lady who is in a very uncomfortable setting. Granted, she is a prisoner and not there of her own choice, but that makes what they were trying to do even more critical. So they go to extremes to show hospitality and welcome to their guest. You could call it over the top, but hey, with what was at stake, could you blame them. They needed their guest to fall in love with an ornery beast in order to save their own lives. Now, our mission as a church is a bit different than that. The people that walk through our doors come of their own free will, they are not prisoners. At least not of ours. We might argue that they are indeed prisoners of some other things in their lives. But that is another message. So they aren t prisoners, but we are trying to get them to fall in love with the master of the house, aren t we. But our master is anything but a beast. Some people may want to portray God that way, but the true biblical image of God is one of unending and unbridled love for all. And we aren t trying to get them to fall in love to save our own lives, but theirs. So going over the top with hospitality shouldn t be such an odd thing for a church to consider. But what do we really mean? To quote Bishop Schnase, Christian hospitality refers to the active desire to invite, welcome, receive, and care for those who are strangers so that they find a spiritual home and discover for themselves the unending richness of life in Christ For this active desire to be radical, it calls us beyond cordiality or friendliness. Every church thinks it is friendly! Every church thinks that it welcomes people. But radical hospitality goes beyond and hand-shake and How are you? We must be willing to change behaviors in order to accommodate the needs and receive the talents of others. This change of behavior or change of culture calls us to consider everything we do from not only our own perspective, but the perspective of those we hope to reach. In the scripture that was read just a few moments ago there is an important message that is too often lost on churches. Let me read a couple of the verses again and then rephrase it. Jesus, staying true to God's purposes, reached out in a special way to the Jewish insiders so that the old

2 ancestral promises would come true for them. [9] As a result, the non-jewish outsiders have been able to experience mercy and to show appreciation to God. What I hear in this is that Jesus reached out to the Jews so that they would know the promises of God and pass them along to non-jews. What that says to us is that Jesus didn t just come so that we would become insiders. Jesus came so that we would become insiders and help others become insiders also. I hesitate to use the designation insiders because it tends to say that those on the inside are more special than those on the outside. Christianity truly understood and lived will never go that way. Christianity truly understood and lived says to others, I found something that works and blesses and gives me purpose and peace and so much more, and I want you to have it too. Invite Now, I know we don t typically think of invitations as part of hospitality. But think about it this way. Isn t it really hospitable to invite someone to your home if you expect to give them a great experience? And isn t it possible to extend some radical hospitality in who you invite and how you invite. Jesus talked about inviting people who couldn t pay you back. That s hospitality. Don t just invite those who are like you! But how you invite should also be hospitable. Inviting someone by saying, I really think you need this could offend and keep them away. Inviting them by saying, Wow, this really helped me out. Would you like to come with me? or There is something going on that I think you would enjoy. Matthew 22:9 Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' In so many of the parable, the stories that Jesus told, he was pretty clear that his life and his message was for everyone, not just a few insiders. Spread the seed everywhere and let God worry about the growth. Go to every corner of your community, country and the world. Invite, invite, invite. Welcome Romans 15:7 So reach out and welcome one another to God's glory. Jesus did it; now you do it!

3 Like I said earlier, every church thinks that it is good at welcoming. But I would love to test some of them to see just how welcoming they are. I d like to take a homeless person who hasn t bathed in a while and see how welcoming they are. I d like to take a kid off the street with tattoos, piercings, and a t-shirt that says something vulgar and see how welcoming they are. I d like to take a pregnant mother with no wedding ring and see how welcoming they are. I d like to take a great big black guy from the inner city to a white suburban or rural church and see how welcoming they are. I know that I am stirring things up and causing discomfort. But if Jesus welcomes me he can welcome anyone, and I should do the same. So what does it mean to show a radical welcome? It means that I intentionally seek out people I don t know on Sunday before I talk with my friends. It means that I find out something about them so I can introduce them to someone else. It means I don t just say, The nursery is down the hall, I actually walk them down and introduce them to the nursery worker. And this is not just about ushers and greeters! This is a culture of welcome that everyone can display. Receive 1 Tim. 6:19 By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of real life. Intentionally including them into the life AND ministry of the church You like golf? Would you like to join me next Tuesday night? There s a group of us who just go to have fun. Did you know that we are having VBS next week? It s free and your kids would have a great time. There s a group of us coming to the church next Saturday for a couple of hours to do some yard work and other odds and ends. Would you like to join us? We can always use a couple more hands and you could meet a few people.

4 You get the idea. I m not suggesting, Hey, the VBS planning team is meeting tomorrow or Would you like to go to Jamaica? That kind of stuff is a bit overwhelming. Care Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' [38] This is the first and greatest commandment. [39] And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Treat them like family! As they begin to become part of the family treat them as if they already are. My next step today is to: Pray about who you could invite Intentionally greet people you don t know on Sunday Find ways to include others in my circle or ministry Practice hospitality the other 6 days of the week

5 Romans 15:7-10 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. [8] For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God's truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs [9] so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: "Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name." [10] Again, it says, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people." Romans 15:7 So reach out and welcome one another to God's glory. Jesus did it; now you do it! Matthew 22:9 Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' Who are the people from our community missing from church? Are they hard to invite? Are they people we would want in our church? Would they feel welcome if they came? Talking to new people: Hi, my name is. I don t think we have met. If they are new, ask them what brought them to Robbins that day. You can ask them about their family, if they have children and what ages. If it s appropriate, introduce them to other families with similar aged children. If they haven t met those who work with the nursery and children s ministry, take them and introduce them. If you discover something about their work or hobbies that is similar to someone else you know, introduce them. You don t have to get their entire life or faith story or give them yours! Just make connections.

6 Be Our Guest Watch the above video from Beauty and the Beast Belle was uncomfortable in a strange place, much like people who come to church for the first time. Have you ever felt out of place and uncomfortable in a new situation? What did you do? What did the other people there do to help you? This video is a good example of Radical Hospitality. What can we learn from the video? Christian hospitality refers to the active desire to invite, welcome, receive, and care for those who are strangers so that they find a spiritual home and discover for themselves the unending richness of life in Christ from Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations by Bishop Robert Schnaase Bishop Schnaase indicates that Radical Hospitality starts from an active desire. Does our church have that kind of desire? How do we show it? How could we do better? The quote also indicates that Radical Hospitality goes beyond just welcoming people when they visit. It also involves being hospitable in how we invite people, receive them into the life of the church and care for them. Are the existing group and work teams easy to be received into? What are some things we, and you, could do to help people get beyond just feeling welcomed? How can we help them get connected and feel at home?

7 If We Are the Body by Casting Crowns It's crowded in worship today As she slips in trying to fade into the faces The girls' teasing laughter is carrying farther than they know Farther than they know CHORUS But if we are the Body, why aren't His arms reaching Why aren't His hands healing, why aren't His words teaching And if we are the Body, why aren't His feet going Why is His love not showing them there is a way There is a way A traveler is far away from home He sheds his coat and quietly sinks into the back row The weight of their judgmental glances tells him that his chances Are better out on the road CHORUS But if we are the Body, why aren't His arms reaching Why aren't His hands healing, why aren't His words teaching And if we are the Body, why aren't His feet going Why is His love not showing them there is a way There is a way Jesus paid much too high a price For us to pick and choose who should come And we are the Body of Christ Chorus (2x) But if we are the Body, why aren't His arms reaching Why aren't His hands healing, why aren't His words teaching And if we are the Body, why aren't His feet going Why is His love not showing them there is a way There is a way Jesus is the way

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