Biblical Hospitality (August 2014; Volume 3, Issue 8)
If you work in the Hospitality Industry, you probably spend your days thinking about making costumers feel comfortable, relaxed, even pampered. Whether it is at hotels, event venues, theme parks, restaurants, or cruise ships, the goal is usually entertainment, leisure, good reviews, and increasing revenue.
But this is very different than the goals of Biblical Hospitality, which in the Greek is literally “love of strangers” (Romans 12:13). According to Leviticus 19:34, God’s goal for our lives together is that those “aliens” among us would be treated as if they were citizens, unlike how the Israelites were treated in Egypt. Biblical Hospitality flows from a generous & open heart. It is a form of sacrificial giving – giving/service done for its own sake…not worried about profit margins or getting anything in return.
I’ve been trying to think lately about how we at LCF can better live out this idea of Biblical Hospitality in our daily lives, but especially at church. This is not something we do in order to attract new visitors or to try to recruit those visitors to become members just like us. It is part of our call as Christians – to spread God’s love throughout the world in word and deed.
Some ideas I have come up with…to get you thinking about how your life might include more Biblical Hospitality:
- Park further away from the front door (as you are able) to leave those more convenient parking spaces for visitors & latecomers. At LCF, we do not have designated spaces for visitors, but pretend we do. Why not leave what you would consider the “best space” for someone else instead of taking it for yourself?
- Sit closer to the front of the sanctuary, especially on holidays, so that visitors & latecomers can more easily slip in the back. This also helps us “regulars” serve as examples throughout worship, especially during offering collection & communion distribution. Think about a time when you worshipped in a new community, what signs of hospitality did you appreciate or notice were missing?
- As a greeter/usher, stand outside the sanctuary doors (in the Narthex) so that you can greet people when they first walk in, instead of possibly being occupied by conversation, with your back to those entering, and blocking the aisle inside the sanctuary.
- When you see someone you do not know, ask their name AND introduce yourself. Do not ignore them, but at the same time, do not overwhelm them with questions. Share as much about yourself as you learn about them. Hospitality is not just about making someone else feel comfortable in your environment, but is about mutual respect and sharing.
The “other” can teach and serve us as much as we can teach and serve them. Hospitality is not about placing a flashing light and sign above newcomers announcing that fact, but working to break down the walls between us, whether that be walls of discomfort and unfamiliarity, barriers to access, or fences of fear.