Thursday, February 11, 2010

Coffee evangelism?

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?


  1. Thanks for this, Paul. I would have run screaming (literally) from the holy huddle you described above. Super-freaky!

    Thinking in terms of welcome--pictures (on websites) and actions (in person) can welcome most immediately, I think. I recall someone talking about being walked with his child as a first time visitor to the nursery, rather than just being pointed. That made quite an impression.

    I read that Good Shepherd is welcoming, but the picture on their site looks like a place that would not necessarily be welcoming--it's of their church building, rather than people inside of it. And of course, the people one chooses to show on a website says a lot too.

  2. Discussing a welcome statement would be a great way for Amazing Grace to continue seeking to become a place of "radical hospitality."

    As you mentioned above, church language and and our all important traditions can be challenging issues to deal with. An open and ongoing conversation will be very helpful with that.

    All three Welcome Statements your provided are good starting points for a discussion on what message we actually are sending to people and how close that is to what we want the message to be.