Perspectives on Generous Hospitality
We want to help bring people closer to God and to each other. The purpose of generous hospitality is to create the space and atmosphere in our congregation where newcomers and congregants make connections to develop meaningful relationships and discover helpful paths to spiritual growth. This hospitality opens the way for all people to be the same in God’s love, part of the same family, and welcomed for who they are in all their uniqueness.
In the words of theologian Letty Russell, “Hospitality is a two-way street of mutual ministry where we often exchange roles and learn the most from those we consider ‘other.’ The ministry of the church is to be partners with strangers, to welcome those whom Christ welcomed, and thus to learn to be a community in which people are made one in Jesus with all of their differences.”
Russell points out that this partnership with Christ – or koinonia as expressed in the Greek language of the New Testament – is a gift that transcends real differences through participation in mission and ministry to heal the brokenness of the world beginning with ourselves.
The practice of generous hospitality is the exercise of welcoming love. Love is defined as “The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” In the words of Jesus, “Love God with all your heart, soul and mind; and love others the same as you love yourself.”
Generous hospitality is generous because it is liberal in giving more than is usual or expected. It is hospitality because of its friendly treatment of guests and strangers.
Principles for Generous Hospitality
- The ultimate outcome we seek through generous hospitality is not just a larger congregation but a better world through transformed lives.
- To be truly inclusive as a congregation requires willingness to engage with those different from ourselves to build mutually respectful relationships.
- The practice of generous hospitality goes beyond the role of programs, teams, or select volunteers; indeed, it is one of the most important roles of every member of the congregation.
- As a church we are a community that welcomes guests. The more we are prepared to welcome guests the more we will receive.
- Early impressions are crucial. Perceptions are shaped by the website, appearance of the church, and initial interactions. The entire worship service – not just the sermon – is the message. All that we do will influence our guests; before, during, and after the service.
- Our engagement with newcomers in the weeks and months following a first visit provides opportunities for connections that will be the true measure of generous hospitality.
For more information on Generous Hospitality send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org
©2016 Don Eastman