Radical hospitality is welcoming others as Christ has welcomed us. It is focusing on those outside our church with as much compassion and love as we focus on those within our congregation. It is hospitality that exceeds all expectation, an unexpected grace that people experience in every element of a church’s life. Members are outward-looking and have an invitational posture. Visitors feel like, “People really care about me here. People are interested in the well-being of me and my family.‘
–Bishop Robert Schnase, interview about his book, Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations.
I got an an email from an acquaintance today. She and her partner attended our pre-church potluck on Sunday. This is what she said in her email:
“I’ve never actually been told that I’m an abomination in the eyes of the lord :(.”
One our church attenders said this to her. I don’t often use the word abomination. I looked it up in the dictionary and this is what it said: “extreme disgust and hatred.”
I have never felt more embarrassed for my congregation and my church than at that moment when I heard about this conversation.
As I think about how our progressive and affirming church was torpedoed by one person’s hateful and ignorant comments, I am left wondering what are we to do? I think our church needs to officially join the Reconciling Ministries Network and make it very clear that our church stands for justice for all people, regardless of sexuality, gender, race, or belief.
I also think that we need to make sure our members and our congregation understand that the bible has been abused and misused to support an oppressive and homophobic political agenda. There are seven verses in the bible that potentially talk about homosexuality. Seven out of sixty thousand! There are over 2,000 verses dedicated to social justice! Check out Ky Dicken’s great film FISH OUT WATER to hear theologians discuss these seven troublesome verses!
Just two steps out of many any congregation needs to take if we are to truly embrace radical hospitality as a practice.