2015 October

Dear Friends,

Robert Schnase, an American Methodist, has identified five main traits of a fruitful congregation. These are:

Radical Hospitality
Passionate Worship
Intention Faith Development
Risk-taking Mission and Service
Extravagant Generosity

The first of these is radical hospitality. That sounds a strange combination.

We are quite happy to be hospitable, to be welcoming and friendly to those whom we meet. We provide basic hospitality by ensuring that our premises are safe and comfortable. If we look across the whole of society, we will find many people who provide basic hospitality, so when we ourselves provide this level of welcome to others, we are not really being much different to anyone else and it is almost taken for granted.

Jesus challenged his followers to do more than inviting those who will invite us back – ‘Even the sinners to this,’ and to remember that, ‘When you do this to the least of these, you do it also to me.’

The challenge is to review every aspect of what we do to ensure that it is welcoming and attractive and beyond what people would experience elsewhere.

An example is our youth group, Reach, which by word of mouth has grown into the twenties in its membership in a year. By offering hospitality, a Christian environment and a place of safety, young people are finding a home that they wouldn’t otherwise have. That happened because someone was observant enough to see the need and to provide the means for it to happen.

So what is radical hospitality? It means working to our absolute utmost, using our creativity, our abilities and our energy to offer the gracious invitation and reception of Christ to others. As we practise radical hospitality, those who come to our church find a surprising and unexpected quality of depth and authenticity in our caring for strangers.  There is an almost intuitive recognition that everyone is welcome here.

This doesn't just happen. It means putting ourselves in the place of others, seeing ourselves through their eyes and seeing them through the eyes of Christ.

It is not just being even more friendly than we are at present. It means reviewing everything we do, from the way that we are seen by passersby to the look of our building (both inside and out); from the welcome we give on a Sunday to the way we treat those who use our premises; from the relationships we have with our next door neighbours to our engagement with the most needy and desperate in our community.

It involves everyone praying, planning and working so that what we do in the church, whether that is music, leading worship, children's work, fellowship groups, looking after the church's premises, or bowling, are all done with excellence and special attention to inviting others and making them feel welcome.

A simple example is painting the wall and bollard at the church's entrance so that people don't scrape their cars on entry. It is a simple thing, but it shows that we care.

It means anticipating others' needs and working to exceed their expectations.

This month, we are advertising our Harvest Festival in the community with specific information about the South Sefton and Crosby Foodbank. By giving others a way of giving to those in need, we may find that there are people in our church for the first time. It is up to us to give them a very warm welcome.

Radical hospitality doesn't just happen. It is an intentional effort on everyone's part. 

Our aim is to turn ourselves from being a hospitable and friendly church into a radically hospitable and friendly church to which we feel really proud to invite others, expectantly looking for new relationships and friendships to develop.

This is something that the Church Council will be looking at and focusing on. I hope that you will be open to joining in this effort as we look at it over the next few months and beyond.

May God bless you.

 

David

 

 


Page last updated: 29th February 2016 5:45 PM