Hospitality is a word that we often talk about at Christ Presbyterian Church. A few years ago we studied Robert Schnase’s book, “Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations.” As one of the practices, Schnase advocated for congregations to observe radical hospitality.
“Congregations that practice Radical Hospitality demonstrate an active desire to invite, welcome, receive, and care for those who are strangers so that they find a spiritual home and discover for themselves the unending richness of life in Christ. Radical describes that which is drastically different from ordinary practices, outside the normal, that which exceeds expectations and goes the second mile.”
At Christ Presbyterian Church we take great delight in being a congregation that welcomes the stranger. We have worked consistently to develop patterns of being that make that welcome part of our congregational DNA. Yet, as with every aspect of our life, we can do better.
To help us become more welcoming, and to enable our board of Deacons to focus on congregational care, we are instituting a change in our congregational practice of hospitality. For many years our deacons have dutifully provided our post-worship fellowship time. They have worked tirelessly to ensure that our guests and members alike experience a time of conversation and coffee that helped to foster relationships. I don’t think we can thank them enough for the ministry they have done in our midst.
As you can imagine, this is a big job with a small group of individuals; after all, the deacons board normally has nine to twelve members. While highly worthwhile and rewarding, it has also taken time away from other ministries that are uniquely part of their calling as Deacons. As a way of helping the Deacons connect with their calling to congregational care, we are changing the way we do our coffee fellowship.
Beginning July 7th, we are seeking congregational help with our coffee fellowship. Each week we invite members and friends to contribute our coffee fellowship “goodies.” Coffee, tea, lemonade and paper products will be supplied by the church. This is not just so the Deacons are freed from the weekly duty of coffee fellowship. This is a great opportunity for our members and friends to offer their gifts. Scripture tells us that there are “many gifts, but the same Spirit that gives them for the common good.” This is an opportunity for folks to offer the unique gift of hospitality to our guests and regular worshippers.
To some this may seem almost like a trivial gift offer. Cookies and fruit don’t seem that important in the grand scheme of salvation. The fact of the matter is that the gift of hospitality is one that we should not overlook. At Christ Presbyterian Church our coffee fellowship following worship services serves a few critical rolls we might not appreciate. Our coffee fellowship is a sign of our welcome to newcomers. In most cultures a little nosh is a sign of friendship. To break bread, even in cookie form, also gives folks an insight into our congregational culture. We are a congregation that enjoys spending time in conversation, especially when it is accompanied by food and drink.
Our coffee fellowship also plays a significant role in our congregational relationships. Our congregation has participants who live throughout the northern Virginia area. This makes our coffee fellowship an important time of connection. Since we have a wide range of neighborhoods and schools represented, we are not in natural connection with each other as some other congregations may be. Coffee fellowship gives us a great time to catch up and share parts of our lives. I see this weekly when I hear conversations about the deep realities of life occurring. Coffee, juice and cookies provide a wonderfully natural excuse to stay and chat.
I hope that you will consider how you might be able to support our hospitality ministry through our coffee fellowship. I personally look forward to seeing, and more importantly, tasting what you have to offer. I also encourage you to express your personality through your offerings.