This Great Idea is inspired by numerous podcasts and blog posts from various leaders, thinkers, and teachers listed throughout.
In a world where supremacy-based ‘exclusionary thinking’ is part of the air we breathe; where people in all age groups are feeling increasingly isolated – and depressed, anxious, and overwhelmed as a result; and where congregations struggle to engage new or returning individuals, families, and whole groups of people (especially teens), intentionally building community through radical hospitality is a no-brainer.
Rev. Dr. Michael Piazza welcomes new member classes with, If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person (HarperOne, 2010) to illustrate the importance of hospitality with people who don’t fit Christianity’s acceptable ‘norms’ [Read the blog here.] – and doubles down with The Outsiders, calling readers to be the skin God inhabits in order to be fully present with people living on the margins.
Andrew Zirschky, Ph.D., gives excellent historical perspective in Christian Hospitality Is Not Hilton Hospitality, strongly encouraging congregations o rethink their understanding of hospitality, explore its roots as a core tenet and key spiritual discipline of Christian life, and appreciate its merits for developing whole human beings.
Springtide Research urges congregations to develop strong relationships with youth as an antidote to Gen Z’s extreme loneliness, depression and anxiety – and their deep desire to find connection in their faith communities. Watch, read or listen to Josh Packard speaking on Gen Z and Mental Health and see our Church Culture and Cellphones Great Idea for additional insight on teen mental health and how congregations can become healthier spaces.
Mary Kay DuChene wonders What If… Churches Were Places of True Community and Connection? – by exploring the myths behind the question, reasons we need to grow into it, and roads toward becoming spaces where everyone can show up as ‘their whole self’. She discusses the topic here; her book on clergy loneliness is here.
A few Twin Cities congregations are intentionally living into their calling to be Beloved Community: Rev. Kara Root and Lake Nokomis Presbyterian Church have beautiful practices around community rest/sabbath, cellphone free zones, and hospitality. We’ve touted Root’s The Deepest Belonging: A Story about Where God Meets Us (Augsburg, 2021) before; it’s full of rituals, liturgies, and suggestions for any community to follow.
Rev. Tyler Sit has done amazing work at New City Church (UMC) where centering folx on the margins and deep listening to one another’s stories has created a community of resilience, action on behalf of their neighborhood and city, and belonging. Read more about Sit’s approach to ministry in Staying Awake: The Gospel for Changemakers (Chalice).
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.”
How might your congregation become a healthier space where folx can bring their whole selves?
What may have to quantitatively change individual lives and communal life for your congregation to become a more fully and diversely hospitable place?
What would radical hospitality – akin to that of the early Christians – mean in your context?
Let’s explore together!