Thursday, April 03, 2008

"Finding the Sacred in the Secular:" Part 3: "Hospitality"

I hope you are enjoying the series on "Finding the Sacred in the Secular...", we have covered media and music so far. In Part 3 we will discuss "hospitality." These are some of my own thoughts from years of ministry and years of visiting numerous churches both good and bad when it comes to hospitality.

Hospitality in the church has changed in big ways over the last decade! Today many mega churches are hosting Starbucks or Coffee Bars and our children experience a Nickelodeon-ish Kids Church that delivers a relevant message. Mega churches are not alone in their efforts to offer a hospitable hand. Churches of every size are making a concentrated effort of becoming "seeker/family friendly." Please note that I did not say "seeker sensitive." I am talking about being hospitable and making people feel welcome,not conforming to the mindsets of a lost world.

People want to feel like they are welcome. It is so important to remember that first impressions are lasting impressions.

On a personal note, when I walk into a church I want to see smiling folks, happy people. I don't want to encounter cranky ushers or bored children's ministry leaders. Like it or not, a hospitable environment will determine how much growth a church will see.

Craig and I have ministered in many churches through the US... and we have generally been treated very, very well. With that said, one thing I have always tuned in to while we were ministering is how the guests were treated. It seems that many churches function in a realm of "insider rules" that are known only to them. Guests are clueless which results in confusion and a carnal situation that may prevent a work of the Lord in that person's life. This always made me cringe! If a person is uncomfortable and feels like they are infringing on someone else's domain, they will not be open to receive from the Lord.

Bottom line is we should always prefer one another.. within reason of course. We must also know the people group we are seeking to reach. To reach that group, we must have the right bait! Any way you cut that bait, it will still have to look attractive on the hook! The same is true with hospitality. There are no rules however, a good rule of thumb is to find a way to approach hospitality in a relevant way!

Proper signage, friendly/helpful greeters and ushers, excited children's ministry leaders, smiling members and worship team leaders and a taste of home will go a long way in making someone feel at home!

Before someone is comfortable in my formal living room, they are first greeted warmly on the porch and they are encouraged to feel at home in our family room.

Craig and I know a large church in the south that offers a food bank to the community. The pastor shared with his congregation that this ministry was simply to bless the people who needed it. They would meet a felt need without any strings attached. He said that some people thought they should force the folks coming to benefit from the ministry to sit and listen to preaching before they received their groceries. The Pastor disagreed saying that they would meet the need and they would allow the Holy Spirit to do the rest. As a result, that church has broke out several times over.

In my own terms, it goes like this, I don't invite you over for dinner and then make you stand on my porch and listen to me talk before I'll allow you to come in and eat. No, I want you to feel at home. I'll give you the best seat in the house and first choice of the food on the table. I believe that my guest will listen to me after I am invested so much in them!

Hospitality is what we offer our guests, it is not what we give them if they live up to our expectations...

Love & Blessings!


3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great Blog.

I've found a militant atheist if you want to try and help him; he's at:

www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/

GBWY, James

Anonymous said...

Great Blog.

I've found a militant atheist if you want to try and help him; he's at:

www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/

GBWY, James

Melanie said...

Hi, Tara. I've tagged you for a meme. I've so enjoyed your posts that I thought it would be fun to get to know you a little better. Come on over to join the fun!