My bucket list is now empty. Jesus can take me home. My wife and I took a trip of a lifetime to Alaska. It was a group trip at times which means it didn’t always feel like a vacation. Sometimes it seemed like church – at its worst.
We gathered onto a motor coach in Seward, Alaska. There was a woman who had such significant mobility issues that she struggled even with a walker. Not surprisingly, she was one of the last people to get on the bus. (Disclaimer: my wife and I had already taken a seat in the back of the bus.)
All the seats were filled in the front of the coach. Our tour guide asked if someone from the front would move to the back so that this woman could have a seat in front. For 22 seconds which felt like 22 minutes, we all sat in awkward silence. No one moved. The woman finally stumbled her way to the back of the bus.
Thankfully, no one in the front of the coach had a Christian identifying mark that the world could see. But I bet there was more than one who would claim to be such. Our culture often criticizes Christians as being hypocrites. We all know there are far too many times when this challenge is all too true.
We feel keenly about Biblical hospitality in the congregation where I’m a pastor. We routinely hear from guests that they are amazed at our friendliness in comparison to other churches. Just yesterday a young woman compared us to a congregation I know well which she attended during her college years. She reported that no one ever talked to her in the times she attended there.
Our church has always been a “good” congregation. I’m fortunate to be a part of this faith community. But a few years ago we said we would intentionally take a new step to be the most hospitable we could realistically be. It meant we all agreed that the most important person is the first time guest. Their needs and preferences trump those of us who are already a part of the church.
There’s never been a more vital time to be an authentic follower of Jesus in a culture. But I don’t think it happens by just good intentions. Every church says everyone is welcome – when the reality is that that is rarely true.
For us, using the resources of The Effective Church group helped to bring our vision to fruition. It’s why I’m a part of the firm now. Perhaps you feel called to take a new intentional step of discipleship making. There are all sorts of good resources out there. Here’s what The Effective Church group has to offer for hospitality development.