Hospitality, Art and the Church: Beyond the Welcoming Smile, True Hospitality is Vulnerability

This article is a reflection of my thoughts arising from my participation in the Brehm Residency Program at Fuller Seminary from January to May 2024. Many of these ideas are not my own -- digested from my readings and discussions with my peer group. My hope in writing this is to share what I have learned, and to open your heart and mind to God's infinite character, the value of artists in this world, and how it points us to worship Him. 

 

We often think of church hospitality as friendly faces and warm greetings. But what if true hospitality goes deeper?

Vulnerability and Imperfection

We have lost the ability to be vulnerable and fragile in the church.  We want to stay in comfort, and our worship or appearance at church on a Sunday morning becomes a performance. Sometimes in pursuit of giving God our best, we become scared to fail. We fear men instead of God, the congregation becomes spectators, and what we do no is longer worship.

In serving, we need to balance the spirit of excellence, giving God our best, and also giving room for the imperfect. It is ok when someone's phone accidentally rings, or someone at the pulpit accidentally mispronounces a word. While there is room to be gently corrected and to learn to be better prepared next time, there is also a need for grace -- this is for God, and He looks at a person's heart. 

Hospitality is an invitation to acknowledge our imperfections and seek sanctification together. It's about recognizing we're all "filthy rags" in need of God's grace.

Labor + Love = Value

Sharing our gifts, even imperfect ones, holds immense value. In 2020 when God brought me on the journey to put together the Botanical Calendar inspired by God's attributes, my sinful imperfect soul wanted to create something pretty and beautiful, that someone would buy (i.e. I can make money), and that was meaningful. Through the process, God changed my heart to find value not in the money I could make, but in how it became a bridge to share God's word and love, and to share the love of Christ with people I would not be able to on my own -- a value far greater than material gain.

Sharing Our Faith: A Vulnerable Act of Hospitality

I have also learned that I can exercise hospitality by being vulnerable and sharing my faith. Sharing my faith through art has involved:

- letting go of the fear of being pigeonholed as a Christian artist
- judged for being foolish and naïve
- taking the slow path that may not have much financial or social leverage
- sharing processes others could copy
- sharing gems of God's truth I had taken decades to gather 

It has been a journey of trusting God to handle those insecurities and using my gifts to connect with others. To accept that what he has given or enabled is for His glory and name, and not mine. 

The Journey Continues 

The journey of practicing true hospitality in the church and as Christians is ongoing. It requires vulnerability, love, and a willingness to take the step of obedience that He has called you to. 

How is God challenging you to practice hospitality?
Are there areas in your life God is challenging you to be vulnerable, to lift up your fears and worries to Him, so that you can step forward in obedience? 

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