Spotless Bathrooms are Not the Goal
by Kim Allen, Director of SHINE Children's Ministry
Have you ever seen the video of the guy who runs around the house, imitating a mom, screaming at everyone to clean up and pretend like nobody lives there? Yeah, that mom is ME.
All these years (and let us now agree that I have plenty of years), I always thought that hospitality prerequisites were clean kitchen counters, spotless bathrooms, and freshly baked bread. It also meant I had to take a shower and put on real shoes before they got there.
Slowly, I am learning a different way. Slowly.
There are many ways to define hospitality—hosting someone in your home; inviting someone to sit next to you; a smile. I love that Chad Ashby, a pastor and blogger, has a different take. He says hospitality is war. Our King has conquered sin and death and He invites His “enemies” to His table—even those who aren’t on His team . . .yet. After all, at some point didn’t He invite us?
Having someone for dinner is only one form of hospitality. I am utterly convinced that true hospitality is always rooted in being others-focused. It means I am always looking for the outsider, the outlier and the outcast. It means I am constantly searching for those who are on-the-outside-looking-in, which means it can happen anytime, anywhere. After all, Jesus rules and reigns over this entire earth, not just the city block where First Presbyterian Church sits.
But while we’re on that subject, the church is a great place to start. In a church this size, it is easy to get lost and remain anonymous, even if you’re not trying. I work here and it’s STILL a challenge for me to go up to people I don’t know (or maybe we’ve met and I can’t remember?) and introduce myself. But when I do, there always seems to be a sigh of relief from the other person—like they just need someone to chat with so that they can act normal and not feel so out of place.
Every time I find myself somewhere and I feel unknown, it’s so awkward. I liken it to going to someone else’s family reunion. Will someone please make eye contact with me? Will someone just say hello and ask if I’m new? My good friend Barbara told me she always just introduces herself to others by saying, “I’m sorry but I don’t think we’ve met. This church is so large, I don’t know all the members. Are you a member here or visiting today?”
So let’s practice, shall we? Let’s look for someone we don’t know—and let’s practice Jesus’ brand of hospitality.
A few ideas to get started:
Invite neighbor’s child over for a play date
Invite someone to coffee or better yet, go through the drive-thru and bring it to them as a surprise
Say hello to someone you don’t know at a worship service this week and introduce yourself; ask them a real question to get to know them better
At work or school, look for the outsider and join them
Invite a family you don’t know very well to meet you at the park for a picnic or popsicles
Offer to call first time visitors to FPCO and give them a welcome over the phone or via email
Call your grocery store cashier by name and wish them a good day
Hold the door or the elevator for a stranger and give them a smile
The Breadbox is our Children's Ministry email. This monthly publication arrives chock-full information about SHINE, but also tips and resources on how you can disciple your small people.