Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!
– Hebrews 13:2
In an attempt to reclaim/reconstruct evangelism I found that my thoughts have brought me to hospitality.
I recently had a conversation about hospitality with a seminary student doing his internship at our church. A few years ago he was running a few community programs in the Vancouver area and often looked to churches for a place to run his operation. He straight up told me that the Methodists were the people who were the most hospitable to his group. I asked the natural question ‘Why?’ His response was shocking, but stunningly simple. They were the messiest.
This is not a slam. He did not walk into the church to see dirty socks laying all over the floor sprinkled with Doritos crumbs. Rather, he noticed that the other churches who worried about how messy his group could potentially be were often more concerned with building looks than accommodating his group. When his group was there, they were anxious. His group just didn’t want to touch anything for fear of putting something out-of-place. The Methodist churches offered a messy ‘lived-in’ hospitality free from this anxiety.
Hospitality matters. Hospitality means vulnerability. It means fully and completely openning up. It means sharing.
I wonder if people are ok to evangelize but not ok to share in community with those whom are evangelized.
I am reminded of a friend who grew up and currently lives in a poor area. He remembers Christian groups coming in and promising the world. Problem was, these groups often operated at arm’s length and did not pursue relationship with the ‘poor.’ Hospitality cannot, and will not happen at arm’s length. I would say without hospitality, we are not sharing anything. It’s like giving those folks the evangelical stiff arm that says ‘I will only share the words of Jesus with you and nothing else because you are making me uncomfortable.’
I wonder if we worry about being kept clean in the midst of the messiness that the sharing of anything brings to us. As we share the ‘good news’ we open ourselves up to welcoming ‘them’ into the community, into a place of belonging, messiness and all.
Do you see a connection between hospitality and evangelism?