When the visioning task force I chaired for my congregation issued our "GPS Report" early last year, one of the sections under which our recommendations fell was called "Radical Intentional Hospitality."
In effect, it called on our congregation not just to welcome people warmly when they came to our building but -- much more important -- to encourage our members to get outside our walls and meet the needs of people in our community. That's why I volunteer at Hope Care Center, a 24-hour skilled nursing facility for AIDS patients. That's why I volunteer at the Southwest Early College Campus (SWECC) as part of the SWECC Faith-based Coalition.
So I was introgued recently to find this blog from a church that says it has given up trying to be a "welcoming" congregation.
Rather, it has decided to be an "inviting" congregation.
Here's how that blog entry explains the difference: "You see, 'welcoming' from a missional perspective is passive. It denotes waiting for visitors and guests to drop by. . .'Inviting,' however, is different. That means we leave the comfort of our congregational home-court advantage."
The object "isn’t about getting the world into God’s church; it’s about getting the church into God’s world."
That idea is why we used the photo here today as an illustration in our GPS Report. It shows us looking out our church doors to our neighborhood.
However difficult this concept may be to implement, it makes a lot of sense to me. If your congregation is doing anything similar, tell me your experience by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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THE BOOK CORNER
Pope Francis in His Own Words, edited by Julie Schwietert Collazo and Lisa Rogak. Anyone could see this book coming from almost the moment that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was chosen as Pope Francis. Unlike the most recent two popes, this pontiff came into office without a long paper trail familiar to people around the world. So journalists and others have been scrambling to figure out what he's said on this or that subject and where he fits on the sliding theological scale of Christianity. The benefit of this small book is that it hits lots of subjects with bite-size quotes from the new pope -- mostly from pre-election sources. The disadvantage is that the quotes are bite-size, meaning that readers can't always be sure of the broader context and, thus, of whether the quote truly exhausts or even represents the pope's thinking on the subject. But it's a start. And although it's misleading to reduce the papacy to a series of epigrams or one-liners, some of this intriguing man shines through here.
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P.S.: My latest National Catholic Reporter column now is online. To read it, click here.