Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Grace, Hospitality and Outreach

 This is just a quick post on my recent musings on grace, hospitality and outreach.

On our trip to Michigan with the OM team..the other moms and I had some interesting conversations on just about everything. Among which was religion..specifically service..or outreach. It was brought to my attention that even churches who serve have an alterior motive..to grow their church..or witness of Christ. This was seen as a threatening act..a "catch" so to speak.

I didn't respond at the time..because this has never been my understanding of outreach. My own personal experience. Yet, I have seen this happen many times..so I couldn't deny the statement either.

My first thought, however, was  No. Not at all. No matter what ones faith or non-faith is Graciousness is a natural out-pour of Grace.
But I stayed quiet.

I stayed quiet because too often I have heard too much defensiveness and war lingo used by members of churches. It is hard to explain grace (the gift of unconditional love - those glimmers of inner peace/joy) in the midst of war lingo. It is hard to explain that being "armed for battle", in the Christian sense, means battling poverty, hate, injustice and  pride. NOT the fighting, finger-pointing, us-or-them type images that often come to mind.And unfortunately are often stated by some pretty vocal people.

So I stay quiet and start pondering the differences in people's perceptions of Grace. There are some that believe grace is earned. They serve to be deserving. I believe this perception is more openly stated here in the West.

Then? There is the understanding that grace is a gift. There are many who accept the gift of grace. When you see grace as a gift..then service to others is merely an action in response to the gift. A thankyou..let me share with you.

..and sharing..well that leads to thinking about Hospitality.

 I begin reading the book Open Heart, Open Home by Karen Mains.  In a discussion on entertaining vs. hospitality Ms. Mains writes:
  "Entertaining says,'I want to impress you with my beautiful home, my clever decorating, my gourmet cooking'.  Hospitality, however, seeks to minister.It says, 'This home is not mine. It is truly a gift...
  ...Hospitality whispers 'What is mine is yours.' "

Hospitality is an invitation into community.

and I realize that the difference between Hospitality and Entertainment, is similar to the distinction between outreach to self-serve ..and outreach as a response. 

For example, our church hosts a day-care. It is the only C.C. M.S. approved day-care in the county. This day-care IS the ministry of the church. There are those who get frustrated because most families from the day-care do not attend the church. They see this as a failure on the part of the congregation.

Then? There are those who understand that the day-care is a MINISTRY. It fills a need in the community.

The goal of ministry is to fill the need.

If the goal is to grow the church we are frustrated. If, however, we understand we are blessed with what we have..and want to extend that by filling a need in the community. (I.E..the only CCMS day-care in the county) Then? We are extending grace. We are ministering.

Okay..no more time to reflect.

Crying baby needing attention IMMEDIATELY.


K said...

n the Catholic Church we have seven corporal works of mercy:

-feed the hungry
-clothe the naked
-give drink to the thirsty
-visit the sick
-visit the imprisoned
-bury the dead
-shelter the homeless

None of these are couched with "only if they agree to convert".

Sure there are individuals and institutions that use 'services' as hooks to pull in new members/proselytize eg. we'll feed you but you will listen to a sermon while you eat, but I believe the majority of service is done to let the light of Christ shine through and to preach with actions instead of words.

grillledcheesechic said...


I agree.