The threat with church hospitality at present is that it can become just another program to get people to church. Hospitality had better be grounded in a true sense of loving God’s people.
People often refrain from church these days because of what they determine to be hypocrisy. You could say that that means there is a lack of integrity. Does your church’s hospitality go in the direction of integrity?
I believe that integrity is at the heart of hospitality. Let’s take a look.
I was visiting a church with my wife. This was a second campus of a mega church. I had high hopes for what I would experience.
We walked up to the entrance and encountered the pastor. I let my wife take the lead since that’s what most men do in such circumstances – unless they are a pastor. And I really just wanted to be as normal as possible.
How do I see this as an issue of integrity? The pastor lied. He couldn’t have remembered us. This was just playing the church hospitality game to try to get the people in. It was a scam. Even then, I might have looked beyond this problem – I am a fallible pastor myself, after all. But by my account it got much worse.
This was a moment for the pastor to back track, to apologize, and start over. He could have asked something about who we are and what we do. He could have asked what brought us to that church on this day. He could have shown us where the restrooms and refreshments were. He could have given us a quick tour.
This pastor was a leader, though. The people of the congregation followed his lead. No one spoke to us. No one asked anything about us. No one took us under their wing to show the vulnerable new people some kindness.
It is often said that people decide in the first few minutes if they are willing to return. I understood that in this situation. I would have left had I not been curious about the worship experience. Would I ever consider returning? Absolutely not.
Look how powerful that encounter was. When we are the hosts, we probably don’t realize just how tenuous the moment is of a first impression. If you normally go to a certain church, and especially if you are a leader, you really need to be a guest somewhere else occasionally. You will learn a lot.
There is a certain direction for the road of integrity. There are many other paths which lead to other destinations. Are you hospitable so that you hope to get more people? Or are you hospitable because you love the people who God loves? That’s integrity of ministry.
Question: How have you helped your church ushers and greeters see their task which is a ministry of love for the people they encounter? Leave any comments below.
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