Messy Church is Hospitality!
Hospitality is one of the five foundational values of Messy Church. What makes “Messy Hospitality” more than just a phrase but central to Who we are and What we do in Messy Church. When have you experienced hospitality at your Messy Church? How do you extend hospitality to not only those who come to Messy Church but those on your team?
In one of my favorite Messy Church books, Messy Hospitality: Changing Communities through Fun, Food, Friendship and Faith, Lucy Moore writes: “Hospitality means risk: the host opens the door to find a stranger there and still welcomes them in. It means a readiness to change oneself, not just to expect the outsider to conform completely to the patterns and habits of the church.” (pg. 11, Messy Hospitality, 2016, Bible Reading Fellowship)
In my past professional roles as nurse and pastor, as well as my current role as executive director, I am comfortable in being the host … the person who welcomes others. However, I have learned that it is well worth the risk of my discomfort as I open myself to be a gracious guest, open to receiving ideas and insights from others.
Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place.Henri J. M. Nouwen
Jesus Feeds a Crowd, our newly released Messy Session, is based on the story of the feeding of the 5000. In that story, we have the example of Jesus being the host of the picnic and also a guest. They did not plan ahead… how were they going to feed all these people? Jesus asks his disciples for their ideas of how to feed the crowd. Jesus does not laugh when Andrew brings a small boy with his meager lunch offering what he had to share.
This is a story of Messy Hospitality to celebrate and learn from as we think about our own leadership of our Messy Churches. Who are the young people at your Messy Church who have gifts to offer that are waiting to be asked? How do we engage in creating space where people can bring their questions, doubts, and unbelief yet find a place to belong?
For the remainder of April, we will continue to focus on Messy Hospitality and we would love to hear your ideas. Take time to reflect on the questions below and let us know how your team is engaging in creating hospitable space.
- How do I make people feel safe and that they belong at Messy Church?
- How do we create a team of Messy Church leaders with a strong identity and purpose? How does our team remain hospitable to new ideas and people?
- How can we become better hosts and better guest to Christ, to the folk we serve at Messy Church and to each other?
- How will we reflect the glorious hospitality of God in Christ Jesus, which has brought us to this point in our faith walk and which draws us closer and deeper to Christ’s love?
- How can our team become good guests that are willing to receive from our Messy folk who come to our Messy Church?
- Questions adapted from Messy Hospitality by Lucy Moore
If you want to spend more time with your team exploring Messy Hospitality, there is now a video for sale on our website. Jim White, pastor of Palmdale United Methodist in California and Messy Church enthusiast, shares ideas of how to reimagine how your team engages in Messy Hospitality during your Messy Church. In addition to the unlimited views of the video, you receive a downloadable pdf.
Peace, Roberta J. Egli