Evangelism: Hospitality Matters

image

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?

Advertisements

2 comments

  1. goodfridayblues · April 24, 2012

    in all honesty, i have to admit that while i’d like to be messy, i err on the side of… what would it be? not cleanliness… i don’t know. i often wonder if Jesus would bother coming to my church. i think he’d probably rather hang out at the Warm Zone or Cyrus Centre. i’ve volunteered at our homeless shelter and have had breakfast with the good people that have spent the night in our church but i sometimes wonder – do i really want to sit next to those folks on sunday? isn’t that AWFUL? but it’s true, that’s my gut reaction. i want to be comfortable. not because i’m lazy or because i’m a snob but i think it’s because deep down, i’m probably scared. and tired. i know that opening up my life to people whose lives are so very different from mine means an investment, it means time, it means vulnerability. and sometimes, i’m just too tired for that. i feel like i’m the one who needs evangelizing. not only do i want to be comfortable, i want to be comforted. safe. in a place where it’s effortless to be. i’m becoming the old person i never wanted to be… i hope that i can be the kind of person that others feel comfortable with no matter what – and sometimes i feel lke i’m there. i guess we all have comfort zones to varying degrees. maybe it’s a matter of pushing my own boundaries when i feel strong enough. i have to learn to be a little more fearless in my old age.

  2. chris lenshyn · April 24, 2012

    I too need to own my judgments, Sharing means vulnerability. Vulnerability is a freaky thing particularly in uncomfortable situations and is something that is hard to get. Which is why I’m thankful God is all about life long learning, forgiveness, patience and all that stuff that makes God so cool.

    It brings to light for me anyway that sharing my faith is not merely words, or merely actions but a weird combo of the two that I haven’t quite figured out yet. If we share with just words getting involved in the mess doesn’t happen. If we share with just actions, we cease to give narrative to the work that God is doing.

    Thanks for your vulnerability!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s