At the first of the year, the church held a workshop on Radical Hospitality. A team of leaders from the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City came to share with us what they do and invited us to reflect on critical questions related to how we reach out and welcome others. At the close of the workshop, attendees were asked to fill out cards expressing their commitments to carry out the ministry of radical hospitality.
As you would expect, the responses were varied and interesting. A good number of people committed to the 10/3 rule. The 10/3 rule simply says, “I will spend 3 minutes talking with people who are within a 10-foot radius, rather than spending 10 minutes with the people who are within 3-feet of me.” This simple rule has a way of pushing us beyond the people we know to the people we do not know and encourages us to be hospitable to people who are beyond our circle of friends.
Many other people committed to be more aware and helpful to those who look new to the church. If they see someone who is trying to find his or her way to a Sunday School class or one of the services, or if they did not seem to be familiar with the facilities or order of worship, they would stop what they were doing to welcome that person and help the person.
Several people committed to carry what they had learned back to their Sunday School classes and Small Groups. They acknowledged how easy it is to become a closed group without even realizing it and that they would look for ways to open things up so that there would be a place for everyone.
A couple of people committed to looking for people who sit alone at our Wednesday Night Suppers, and make a point of sitting with them.
One man committed to help start a “Parking Lot Usher” ministry. As he put it, “I can’t do it all by myself, but I can get others to help, and we can make a whole ministry of this.” When he and I talked, he dreamed of not just showing up for the work on Sunday mornings, but of times of fellowship where the “Parking Lot Ushers” would get together to eat a meal and share times of fellowship. (PS: If Jim Anchors calls your house, you may have an idea of what he is about to ask!)
Over the last couple of weeks, I have watched to see how things would unfold. It has been inspiring. Sunday School classes have started to implement systems that would welcome guests. People have gone out of their way to ask how they can be helpful to those who are visiting the Church for the first time. Others have pointed out guests to me and then introduced me to them. Those who did not attend the first workshop have asked if there is going to be another (there is) and expressed a desire to be a part of it.
There is a fresh spirit of hospitality that is breaking out in our congregation. I hope you will be a part of it. Remember, at one time you were new to our church, and chances are good that part of the reason you are still here is because someone went out of his or her way to welcome you!
As always, I look forward to seeing you Sunday, if not before!