What Kind of Church? Part 5

Posted on Sun 24 July 2016 in misc

Deut 10:17–19; Psalm 32:1-7; Luke 19:1–10

So how would you answer if someone asked what kind of church you go to? Children, Family, and Youth; Worship; Serving Others; Spiritual Growth;

Outreach and hospitality that adds to and cares for the Body of Christ through sincere invitation and loving relationships.

Aspirational Core Value

Tension between welcoming and feeling comfortable

Huddle / Seeing the way Newcomers See

Story about Steve and Kaie

This comparison to speaking a language is an important one for a couple reasons.

For one, we Christians often speak a different language.

E.g. “narthex.”

Even those of us who did grow up in the church may find our vocabulary lacking.

Brueggeman’s ‘behind the wall’ conversations and ‘on the wall’ conversations. (Other walls out there: ‘all are welcome’ might not mean it…)

Something deeper in that story of Steve and Kaie…We believe in a God who loved us so strongly that even though we fail to speak in God’s language, even though our mouths are so often filled with words of hurt and hate, God came to us in the person of Jesus — in our own native language. We call Jesus the Word made flesh, and he brought God’s Word into our language even though it meant suffering through our pain and hatred.

See there is not so much a tension between outreach and hospitality but rather a pattern that we follow. God has reached out to us, and made us family, and now we reach out to others so that they may find hospitality as well.

True hospitality means actually becoming more like a guest. When Jesus approached Zacchaeus, he did one of my all-time favorite Jesus moves: he invited himself over for dinner. For Jesus, good hospitality meant becoming the guest, speaking in the native language of the other.

If we at Good Shepherd are to embrace true outreach and hospitality, it will not mean sprucing up and then waiting for others to come join us here. It will mean inviting ourselves over for dinner! It will mean being willing to be de-centered, to go outside our comfort zones, to listen to other perspectives.

Among the church it could mean joining a small group…outside the church, it could mean talking to someone who is not Christian or has a bad view of the church and listening to their story without defensiveness or judgment — being their guest.

It will mean finding common language with someone you’re pretty sure you’re going to disagree with. But you never know, look what happened with Zacchaeus!

It will mean letting go of our preferences, our most comfortable routines, and our sacred cows (and every church has them.)

It will not mean letting go of our identity or compromising our Core Values…but it will mean bringing those values into new places, into new conversations. And translating them into new languages.

Children, Family, and Youth; Worship; Serving Others; Spiritual Growth; Outreach and Hospitality

Our next step, now that we’ve defined our values, is to clarify our mission. And our mission will answer this question: how will we reach out and bring these gifts that we treasure to others. How can we make sure that as many folks around us have the joy of having their household strengthened, joining in worship that inspires, discovering the gift of serving others, growing deeper in God’s grace, and the peace in embracing others?

Jesus told Zacchaeus that ‘salvation has come to this house.’ Salvation has come to this house, too. Now, let’s bring it to the next one.