From the Music Ministry….

Welcome In Many Ways

Obviously, we are in a time of transition. Times of transition are natural times to consider what has been done and examine core beliefs and practices. It is not that lots of changes need to be made, but it is a good idea for every organization to do a self-examination every so often. It is similar to when you go hiking. It is a good idea to occasionally stop your swift pace, look at the trail map, and make sure you are headed in the right direction! Since this is a natural time of transition, for the next few articles I am going to share with you what I consider to be healthy practices for any community of faith.

Disclaimer – I am no church health or growth expert. My opinions of what I consider healthy practices have been shaped by my experiences as an active lay-person and as a minister working in volunteer, part-time, and full-time positions for a number of years. These experiences include serving as a minister of music most of the time, but also in other capacities as well: as a youth director, minister of education, and even a building supervisor for a few years. I lived through the ‘worship-wars’ and I have served in a variety of communities and church types including the following: rural settings, county seat settings, typical ‘first churches,’ typical ‘not-first churches,’ churches who valued ‘high church’ worship, and churches who valued ‘low church’ worship. Like anyone, my opinions are shaped by my experiences and observations.

With that said, I believe hospitality is one of the essential practices of being a healthy community of faith. This quality really resonates with me for several reasons. Hospitality is an essential theme running through the Biblical record (see for a good overview). It is broader than what is popularly called outreach. Outreach is often reduced to a one-time program or superimposed practice. For me hospitality, while including outreach, is broader. It is more a personality trait of the community and is more encompassing than just a single outreach program.

Hospitality, for example, can be expressed in a variety of ways; it includes a friendly greeting to guests in worship but it is more than that. It includes, for example, the church’s physical space. A hospitable physical space is one that, when someone attends the church for the first time, they easily see where to park, they find the main entrance obviously, they find signage or a friendly church member to help them find their way to an appropriate Bible study group or to the worship area. They see their children are cared for in a sparkling clean and secure environment. In worship, they find a place to sit where they are comfortable. Regular attendees, who may have their usual seats taken by guests, are gracious and gladly find another place to sit. After worship, clear, well-placed signage helps them find their way the main parking area or the children’s area. In these ways hospitality is expressed in a church’s physical space.

Note – We have just completed a long-needed refresh of our facilities and the up-to-date paint, flooring, furnishings, and décor speaks volumes about how alive we are as a congregation. Our facilities say to guest that we are not stuck in the past but are looking to the future. How do we do on some of the other points mentioned regarding the hospitality of our physical space?

Physical space is just one area through which Christian hospitably may be expressed. Next month I will consider how hospitality can be expressed in worship.