This video has been floating around the internet for a while, and it's food for thought. As somebody who regularly "starbucks" his sermons by writing at the coffee place, this video resonates with me. As someone who tries to be intentional about welcome and hospitality, it makes me cringe at less than welcoming church practices.
I know that as church, we have lots of insider language. I’ve tried to be intentional about eliminating some, being sensitive to visitors who may not know every liturgical nuance. I try to say “green hymnal” instead of “LBW,” and “dip the bread into the cup” instead of “intinction.”
Practicing hospitality is a fine balance. What might feel loving and welcoming for some might be overwhelming or aloof for others. I remember the time I visited a congregation, and during the announcements, the pastor said, “It looks like we have a visitor in the house! Stand up and introduce yourself.” As I was talking, the entire choir processed towards me, singing, “Greet someone in the name of Jesus. Greet someone in the name of Jesus. Greet someone today!” At that instant, I was surrounded in a group hug by the entire choir. Yes, I was a bit overwhelmed.
I know that some congregations have made formal statements of welcome. At Amazing Grace, we haven’t officially done that, but it might be something to think about in the future. I especially like this one, this one, and this one.
How do you feel welcomed? What makes you feel like church is home? How might a non-shouting church practice hospitality?