September 29, 2009

Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations: Radical Hospitality

Our church this past Sunday started a series based upon the book by Robert Schnase entitled The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations. In conjunction with the sermon series our Sunday morning class is studying through the five practices that Schnase talks about as well. The topic for this past Sunday was "Radical Hospitality". Over the next few weeks you will see posts talking about these five different practices as we discuss them in class. Feel free to share your thoughts, questions or comments as we go.

Radical Hospitality
Schnase talks about hospitality as a distinguishing mark of a disciple of Christ. It would be hard to deny the outward focus of Jesus' hospitality. You don't have to look far to see example after example of this throughout the Gospels. My favorite story of this is when Jesus interacts with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-26), what an incredible picture of hospitality.

"Jesus' example of hospitality demands an unceasingly invitational posture that we carry with us into our world of work and leisure and into our practice of neighborliness and community service" (Schnase, 14). As a Christian, we are required to be hospitable but never as an end in itself. Hospitality is simply a means by which we might help connect people to the person of Jesus. See, it's by being hospitable that helps others see that you and I are not only approachable but actually care about them. This gives us the opportunity to build relationships, relationships which can lead people to begin a relationship with Christ.

This book is targeting congregations and suggesting five different things they might practice in order to be fruitful. What I am hoping to do is make these five practices extremely personal. My thought behind this is that if you and I practice these things as individuals, for example when we are hospitable, our churches can't help but be places of hospitality because it's a part of who we are. We have got to help people see that they are not in this alone. With all of the mess so many of us must deal with in life, imagine how much of a difference it can make for someone when they realize there is a community waiting to invite them in.


R Schnase said...

Good thoughts. I'm glad the Five Practices are proving helpful. By the way, in your last paragraph you mention taking the practices from the congregational level to the level of personal discipleship. That's exactly what I'm working on for my next book. Blessings to you in your work. r schnase

Matt Lipan said...

R Schnase: Bishop, thanks for the read and comment.

the Five Practices have been helpful for our congregation as a starting point to focus our energies. i'm looking forward to hearing you talk about these Five Practices on the level of personal discipleship. i think they have the potential to bring about real change in an individual's discipleship process.

thanks again for sharing, looking forward to the new book. any idea when it might be out?