Repentance & Risk

Today's Photo: "Reflective Places"

Greetings. I just returned from La Crosse, Wisconsin. There was a Theological Conference there for pastors and church leaders. It was fantastic to connect with other pastors. It's so interesting and challenging and difficult and exciting to be starting over again in a new environment. Another chapter is beginning; time to plant some roots and build a sense of community in my life here in Minnesota.

Rev. Stephen Bouman was one of the speakers at the conference. He was helpful, honest, and encouraging. He spent a good bit of time discussing the topic of authentic hospitality: how to be congregations where people really and truly feel welcome. Bouman said that real hospitality is based on two things: 1) repentance and 2) risk. We need to be aware that 1) we are imperfect and often fail miserably at being hospitable: we are saved only by God's grace and love, given the freedom to repent and try - try again.

I was most intrigued by his comments on the #2 requirement of real hospitality: risk. In order to really get to know people - to be a congregation where people want to enter and participate - we have to take risks! We have to put ourselves out there! We have to try new things - and meet people where they are at.

As one who is generally inclined to avoid risks when possible, Bouman's words convicted and inspired me. I really want all Christian churches to be authentically hospitable environments! There are so many negative stereotypes (and sadly, truths) about Christian churches. Sometimes we are so bad at reaching out of our comfort zone and even greeting those in our midst. In order for authentic hospitality to really take root in local congregations, everyone who goes to Christian churches needs to be on board. We all have to be willing to take risks - to introduce ourselves to people, to sit next to strangers, to enter into conversations and risk feeling awkward now and then.

Real hospitality
. It's a wonderful reality for us to work toward in places way beyond the local congregation - hospitality is important whether you are a person who goes to church or not. Neighborhoods, homes, work places, and communities - these are all places that benefit from being grounded in a mutual desire to express kindness, generosity, and compassion.

So my goal for this week is this: Be a risk-taker when it comes to hospitality - talk to people who intimidate me, sign up to help with a task that would otherwise drive me bananas, make a visit to a person who doesn't get regular visits. Those are ideas I've come up with so far. I hope you find some ways to be your authentically hospitable self this week, too.

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