Thursday, May 12, 2011

Unconditional Hospitality…

Last year, as we worked to identify a new vision for the church, we first spent time describing our values. We can’t grow and evolve as a community, after all, if we neglect the values that inspire and distinguish us. Besides, anything we try that conflicts with what we hold most dear will seem awkward, at best, and downright counterfeit, at worst- to visitors and ourselves. On the flip side, I believe that the more we put our values into action, the greater creativity and energy we steer into bringing our hearts’ dearest beliefs to life, the better everything our church does will be! We’ll worship with greater urgency and electricity. We’ll reach out more daringly and compassionately to our neighbors. Families will see with clarity the great value of raising kids in our midst; teaching children the values that seem so natural, motivating, life-giving to Plymouth Creekers. In short, every house needs a solid foundation. So as we pursue God’s Vision for our future together- becoming a beacon of Christian openness and service in the NW suburbs- we’ll need to keep our values central, alive and relevant.

Well, one PCCC value that I consider a great strength of our church (and it’ll grow greater, the more we let it shape all our thoughts and activities), is unconditional hospitality. Ever attend a church that didn’t let you take communion? Ever encountered a club where someone said, “We’re closed to people like you”? Ever walked into a party and read the thought in many people’s eyes, “What’s s/he doing here?” Not a great feeling, right? It’s a fact of life that we can’t include everyone into our inner circle of loved ones. But it’s also a fact of Jesus’ resurrected life (so we believe) that he’d like to do so, and thus invites all to come to him. I.e. At PCCC, we don’t put conditions on whether a person’s ‘qualified’ for our hospitality. Whomever you are, wherever you come from, there’s room for you at Christ’s table in our midst!
Of course, we can believe that to the depths of our hearts. But unless we actively promote it, change places in our work and worship where that message isn’t coming through, then folk won’t know. We’ll have this wonderful strength- our deep valuing of unconditional hospitality- that gets whispered rather than SHOUTED OUT! Indeed, until each visitor leaves saying, “Whatever else this church does, they’re really hospitable- to me, to EVERYONE- it seems…”, then we have more work to do.

So on Sunday, May 15 for about 45 minutes after fellowship, a team that’s been working for the past three months will host a Hospitality Workshop. Basically, we looked at how we currently welcome guests and visitors on Sunday mornings. Some of it we decided was great (personal attention the moment folk walk into the Welcome Center… YES!). Some of it we realized gets in the way of our message (it’s not very hospitable when a visitor’s asked for their personal info before their name…especially in the days of identity theft and too much junk (e)mail). Then, we asked, “How can we improve our hospitality so EVERY visitor leaves knowing what PCCC values?” And through some good questioning, willingness to think outside the box and telling me to be quiet, we crafted new Welcome and Follow-Up procedures. Actually, it’s more of an outline; an experiment we think is good, but will be refined over time. To get that process started, we thought it wise to host a workshop for anyone who wants to help with Sunday morning welcoming and/or increase his/her hospitality skills. We realize this isn’t a ministry for all church members, although we each can and should contribute to a culture of unconditional hospitality. But for those who really enjoy welcoming guests and visitors (or want to, and so hope to get better!), please join us. They’ll be role playing sessions, opportunities to offer input and (knowing this group) a whole lot of fun! Most important, we’ll take another step toward making our God-sized and Inspired Vision a reality. That, I hope you’ll agree, is well worth an enjoyable pre-lunch activity!

Grace and Peace,

No comments:

Post a Comment