Hospitality: It’s Personal
By Terry Brown of Pigeon, MI, USA
But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. —Luke 14:13–14 NRSV
A few years ago while on vacation, my family visited a megachurch of another denomination. From the moment we arrived attendants directed us to a parking spot in a grassy field beyond the paved parking area. When we got out of the car, we were chauffeured to the building’s entrance in a golf cart.
Every twenty steps or so ushers welcomed us. When we sat down, those around us greeted us warmly. In many ways our worship began the moment we drove into the church’s driveway due to the deliberate and practiced hospitality of the congregation.
Later that morning we also attended a Community of Christ congregation and the difference was striking. There were two buildings on the site, and we were unsure which one to enter. When we walked in, the foyer was full of people. Though some had their eyes on us, no one greeted us or handed us a bulletin. No one ushered us to our seats. Indeed, they looked unsure how to approach us. It was as if they wondered if we were in the right place.
Once we found a seat in the back of the sanctuary, those around us came alive. People in the pew in front of us were gracious and welcoming. The worship was inspirational and personal. The large church we attended earlier performed a well-rehearsed worship event, but had struggled and failed to help us feel personally involved in the message.
Since then, I have visited dozens of Community of Christ congregations. Each had its own hospitality personality, especially with how they welcomed the stranger. Each one offered an incredible worship opportunity.
The realization that our services are so awesome should free us to become better greeters to guests in our congregations. Often, especially in our small congregations, we may feel a little ashamed that we don’t have a large group of people or a variety of classes. We may miss the opportunity to share a powerful spirit that does not rely on great numbers.
What a blessing it would be for each of us to realize the awesome nature of our worship experiences and share that enthusiasm with all those who step into our sanctuaries. The good news of Jesus is for everyone. We are a Community of Christ—let’s not waste a moment in welcoming guests to experience the Spirit of God intimately.
Terry’s Prayer for Peace
Welcoming God, open our eyes to those who are searching for a loving community. Help us discern the needs of our guests as they move from being strangers to being part of the family, encircled by unwavering hospitality and the peace of Jesus Christ.
Celebrate the diversity of Creation. The Spirit speaks in many languages. Listen closely for the voice of God in the words of the stranger.
Today I will be an ambassador of Jesus and invite someone to worship.