Our next Congregational Business Meeting will be on May 7. As has become our custom at the May Business Meeting, Pastor Audrey and I will announcement the ministry theme for our fourth year of ministry at HCOB which begins on June 1. For this past year, we’ve been focusing our efforts on Hospitality. So before we say our goodbyes to hospitality, I want to highlight some of what we’ve learned.
In the fall, Pastor Audrey and I preached a series on Hospitality. As part of this series, we established the Biblical roots of hospitality in the cultural expectations of Abraham’s time. In Genesis 18, Abraham gives us an exemplar of how we are to welcome strangers with ge, and even extravagance. With Abraham in mind, we considered how generosity, courage, and even extravagance. With Abraham in mind, we considered how our congregation might practice this kind of hospitality and we realized we needed to correct our assumptions. Our hospitality is not for the sake of church growth and we don’t get to decide who we welcome. Hospitality can be done for the wrong reasons, especially when we want specific kinds of people to come join our church. But Christian hospitality meets everyone where they are with the same generous welcome God gives to each beloved child. Hospitality performed with the intention of growing our church is shallow. Hospitality should be given without any expectations. Yet, when a church can show genuine hospitality, often they do grow.
This Spring, I have been teaching two classes on the book God’s Welcome by Amy Oden (available in the West Entrance for anyone interested). Nearly 25 students participated in this course to dig deeper into hospitality as a spiritual practice. We discovered that hospitality was not going to be just another program of the church, rather it needed to be lived out by our membership. Together, we considered how to offer genuine welcome to guests similar to the welcome Jesus has already offered us. We do not exist as another social organization looking for new members nor as a business looking for new patrons; we exist as Christ’s church offering freely the love and grace of Jesus Christ. We need to understand what we are offering. We are not selling people on our program; we are demonstrating Jesus’ welcoming Kingdom with generosity. Ultimately, you and I serve as ambassadors for Christ, welcoming all people into a new identity in the Kingdom of God.
As we enter into a new year of ministry, I pray hospitality stays in the back of our minds. The year of Hospitality was meant to prepare the ministry within our walls before we take our invitation beyond our walls. June 1 will begin a year of Invitation. Are we ready? Hospitality was meant to prepare the ministry within our walls before we take our invitation beyond our walls. June 1 will begin a year of Invitation. Are we ready?