Monday, January 09, 2006


The Call To Hospitality

On Sunday I borrowed from Out Of Ur and "amen"ed their call to transition from seeker-sensitivity to hospitality in ministry. Then I thought about Matt Self's post last Thursday based on a post from Created For His Glory. Lauren is talking about changing her expectations for blogging and making friends instead of just spouting ideas. Matt says this
Blogging was created not as a means for everyone to become their own op-ed columnist. Blogging is not supposed to be a monologue. It was created for the purpose of freely sharing ideas. The understated, underemphasized point is blogging is supposed to engender fellowship. As Christian bloggers, we should be reveling in this concept.
When you add that to all the commentary that has been going on in lots of places since the beginiing of the year about how to disagree as Christian bloggers, and I come to the conclusion that hospitality should be the watchword for Christian blogging this year.

Blogging cannot be the church, we lack the ability to fulfil sacramental functions, and I believe the church calls for fleshly human contact - but perhaps we can model this aspect for the the church and it can learn from us.

Hospitality is, I think the missing ingredient in most churches today, and by hospitality, I do not mean "friendly." The Out of Ur piece (follow the link above) explains it to some extent, but I want to tackle it from a different angle.

It's no secret that the mega-church movement borrows from Wal-Mart and its ilk in its "business model." Some even admit to it. In a place long ago (2002) and far away, I wrote about this and quoted a USA Today article
"The reasons why churches are getting bigger are the same reasons why your Costco, your Wal-Mart, your Home Depot and Lowes are expanding and are successful," says Charlie Bradshaw, executive pastor of North Coast Church, which has 5,500 members in Vista, Calif., a suburb of San Diego. "They're providing what you're looking for in options and prices, and that's why people are driving by the mom 'n' pop stores."
That quote makes me shudder, but consider this - Wal-Mart makes a big deal out of it's greeters. That is indeed friendly, but does it make the store genuinely hospitable? No, it's still a monstrosity with large inventory and minimal service. Those greeters don't really change the Wal-Mart shopping experience, they just change the first few seconds of it.

Hospitality means that when you enter, you feel has if you are a warm, comfortable, homey place - that's very different than a friendly greeting.

In blogging genuine hospitality means several things. First blogs should be personal - that's something Matt mentioned as linked above. Self-revelation helps make that atmosphere, provided it is not the "save-me-I'm-drowning" kind of self-revelation. Secondly, it means our fights should be less like formal debates and more like dinner table discussions. Finally, it means generosity. It means giving more links than you get, praising other bloggers whenever possible and worrying more about what you write than how many people read it.

If we do these things, maybe the church can learn from us, and maybe then the church can genuinly change the world, like it is supposed to.


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