One of the best parts of my job as Connections Pastor at Cornerstone Church is helping our guests get plugged into the church life. It is so much fun watching people become more and more involved in the life of our church. As they get more involved, it helps the grow and mature as a follower of Christ.
The end result of this process is a healthy growing Christ follower. But, where does it began? It usually begins in the parking lot, the foyer, around the coffee pot, and in the rows way before a word is spoken from the platform. You see, hospitality, plays a huge part in helping people to get plugged into the life of a church. If you are not hospitable, guests won’t stay long enough for your church body to ministry to them. And not only will they leave your church, they easily can leave the church. Hospitality is vitally important to church health and life.
I found a great article on Biblical hospitality entitled, Practicing Biblical Hospitality. The author, Trisha Wilkerson, draws out the differences between entertaining people and practicing true Biblical hospitality.
Trisha defines Biblical hospitality as, Biblical hospitality is when we give ourselves willingly to the needs of others. It is bigger than food and shelter. It is the outpouring of mercy and grace from God to others, without expectation for reciprocation. She is basically saying that in order to practice true Biblical hospitality, one must put others first with nothing expected in return.
Whereas she defines entertaining as, But entertaining has little to do with real hospitality. Secular entertaining is a terrible bondage. Its source is human pride. Demanding perfecting, fostering the urge to impress, it is a rigorous taskmaster that enslaves. Entertaining is not centered around others, instead it is centered around the person doing the entertaining.
When I look at what takes place before our service starts (in the parking lot, the foyer, and the auditorium rows), I don’t want entertaining to take place. I want serving taking place. I want our members to give up the best seats so guests feel comfortable. I want parking spaces left open that are close to the building. I want trash picked up. Bathrooms cleaned. Coffee fresh and hot. And if someone sees a child of one of our guests reaching for the last blueberry donut, let her have it!
If a church wants to grow, they must first look within and ask a powerful question, Are we hospitable? I hope and pray that this helps you in your growth as a follower of Christ.