Romans 15:7 – Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

  1. Introduction
    1. The mission of the United Methodist Church
      1. i.      To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
        1. We aren’t here to see attendance go up; watch the offering plates fill up; or to feel better about ourselves.
        2. We are here because we believe that Jesus Christ makes a difference.
        3. Because we believe that, we strive to be obedient to the Great Commission that he gives to his disciples in Matthew 28:19-20.
        4. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them… and teaching them to observe all I have commanded you.”
          1. The mission of the UMC is the mission that Jesus Christ gave his first disciples.
          2. It is a mission that has been passed down from generation to generation.
      2. John Wesley’s biggest fear was not that Methodism would die out, but that it would become a “dead sect, having the form of religion without the power.”
        1. The form of religion does not change the hearts of people.  The form of religion is when we stop caring so much about the message of the gospel, and start caring more about the unimportant details of “playing church.”
        2. It is only the power of gospel that can change lives; and this doesn’t happen just by going through the motions, or “playing church.”
    2. ii.      At its core, the gospel is transformative.
      1. Our lives have been affected by the message of the gospel.
      2. We should not be the people that we were before we knew Christ.
      3. We should strive to see others transformed by the power of the gospel.
  2. Our call: to reach others with the good news of Jesus Christ
    1. i.      In our little corner of the world, we are called to reach others with the good news of Jesus Christ.
      1. This is not a different mission.  It is how we fulfill our mission right where we are.
      2. The mission is the horizon that guides us – ever present before us.  The mission does not change.
      3. Our call is the landscape along the way – ever changing.  Our call may change over time.  Once we have been obedient to God’s call for a time, we may find that there is something else that God has called us to for a time.
    2. ii.      Why should we care about our call and our mission?
      1. It’s a matter of obedience.
      2. If we are to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, then we need to be obedient to the mission that he has laid before us.
      3. We need to be faithful to the task that he has given us, even when it is uncomfortable and undesirable.
      4. Remember the words of the covenant prayer that we shared last week: “Lord, make me what you will.”
      5. If we really mean that, then our life may look significantly different when we follow God, as opposed to following our own inclinations.
    3. iii.      One way that we can fulfill our call and our mission is by paying careful attention to the Five Practices that we will be focusing on for the next few weeks.
  3. What do the Five Practices have to do with all of this?
    1. i.      The Five Practices are fundamental building blocks for vibrant and thriving congregations
    2. ii.      Not just congregations, but also disciples of Jesus Christ.
    3. iii.      It goes hand in hand.
      1. If we aren’t vibrant and thriving disciples of Jesus Christ, then we can’t be a vibrant and thriving congregation.
      2. If we aren’t a vibrant and thriving congregation, then it becomes increasingly difficult for us to develop into and raise others to be vibrant and thriving disciples of Jesus Christ.
    4. iv.      These are things that we have to be intentional about doing as individuals and as a congregation in order to
      1. be the people that God has called us to be, and
      2. to allow others to see the transformative power of the gospel.
    5. v.      The first of the Five Practices that we are going to look at is Radical Hospitality
    6. What is Radical Hospitality?
      1. Hospitality on its most basic level is a relationship between a guest and a host.
        1. i.      We see hospitality in many different areas of our lives.
          1. Customer service
            1. If you receive bad service at a store or at a restaurant, your view of that location is tainted, and you may not return.
            2. El Potrillo story?
      2. Inviting people to your home
        1. Most people would not invite people over and not be hospitable.
        2. That’s a good way to lose friends fast.
    7. ii.      How hospitality is handled is different from culture to culture, but a breach of hospitality is seriously frowned upon no matter where you are in the world.
    8. iii.      Hospitality was particularly important in ancient Israel.
      1. Leviticus 19:33-34: When a foreigner resides among you in your land, you must not mistreat him.  The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born.  Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.  I am the Lord your God.
      2. God tells the people of Israel to remember that there was a time in their history when they were the ones who resided in a foreign land.
      3. Centuries of slavery resulted from their time in Egypt, and the Egyptians were judged for it.  They should be careful to welcome the foreigner or else they might be under the same judgment.
    9. iv.      If hospitality was important enough for God to specifically mention it in the Law, then it should be important enough for us to take notice, even today.
  4. Christian hospitality is more than a smile and a handshake.
    1. i.      Christian hospitality refers to an active desire to invite, welcome and care for those who are strangers so that they can find a spiritual home and discover for themselves the unending richness of life in Christ (Schnase).
    2. ii.      Hospitality is a mark of Christian discipleship.
      1. If we call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ, then we should extend the welcome and grace that was first extended to us by Christ.
      2. We belong to the Christian faith because of somebody’s hospitality.  We were invited and welcomed to the faith at some point in our lives.
    3. iii.      Christian hospitality is radical hospitality.
      1. It is more than saying “Good morning” to the people that you come across.
      2. Radical hospitality has us seeing people as Jesus sees them… as Jesus sees us.
      3. Radical Hospitality begins in our personal life
        1. Radical hospitality begins in our personal life with us saying “Yes!” to God.
          1. i.      Saying “Yes!” to God’s redeeming grace.
          2. ii.      Saying “Yes!” to God’s unconditional love.
          3. iii.      Saying “Yes!” to God’s call to follow Him.
  5. The personal practice of radical hospitality begins with a readiness to accept and welcome God’s invitation in our lives.
    1. i.      The first invitation that we receive from God is to come to Him.  It is the invitation of redemption.
    2. ii.      Through God’s prevenient grace – the grace that comes before salvation – we are invited to receive a new life, to be born again.
    3. iii.      Radical Hospitality begins by us welcoming God into our lives, and allowing Him to reign, but radical hospitality in our personal lives does not end there.
  6. It continues each and every time we face a new invitation from God.
    1. i.      God invites us not just to draw close to Him for salvation, but He invites us to be made whole.
      1. He invites us to be the people that we have been created to be.
      2. He invites us to grow closer to Him each and every day through the decisions that we make.
      3. Everyday we are given an opportunity to say “Yes!” or “No” to God.  Some days, that decision is a turning point in our lives.
    2. ii.      Think of all the times in your life when you have said “Yes!” to God, and it made a difference.
      1. Your life was changed.
      2. You drew closer to God.
    3. iii.      Certainly, we can also probably think of times when we have said “No” to God.  In those times we distance ourselves from God.
  7. What causes us to say “No” to God?
    1. i.      Culture
      1. We live in a culture that repeatedly tries to drown out the voice of God.
      2. According to the New York Times, Americans spent nearly 34 hours/week watching television in 2010.
        1. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re spending that time watching the television, but at the very least, it is on while we are taking care of other chores.
        2. During that 34 hours/week average of television watching, there are roughly 10 hours of commercials.
        3. That means every week, you are getting 10 hours of messages thrown at you.
      3. We live in a noisy culture.
      4. The Israelites also lived in a noisy culture.
        1. Everywhere they turned, their neighbors were worshipping numerous gods.  They were the only ones in the ancient world that were supposed to be worshipping only one God, the one true God.
        2. Yet, they let the surrounding cultures dictate the things that they did.  They fell away from God because they were trying to be just like the cultures that surrounded them.
        3. This should serve as a warning to us.  We should be aware of what is happening in culture, but we should not be seduced into believing everything that our culture throws at us.
    2. ii.      Negative Internal Messages
      1. We hear the message of grace, but we think that we are completely unworthy of it.  It sounds too easy, and we turn away from it.
      2. A lot of times, this comes from struggling with self-worth, or gaining respect and love from others.
      3. One of the hardest things for us to accept is the fact that God loves us unconditionally.
      4. We cannot allow unresolved personal issues to block us from saying “Yes!” to God.
      5. We have to remember the message of the gospel: God so love the world that He gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
        1. “Whoever,” not just the special people that have it all together, but anybody who would come before the Lord and put their faith in Jesus.
        2. There are no exceptions and no boundaries to the love of God.
  8. We have to learn how to say “Yes!” to God.
    1. i.      We have to open ourselves up to His grace in our lives, and that is going to mean putting ourselves out there to receive God’s grace and love.
    2. ii.      When we open ourselves to God, we make room in our hearts for the transformation that is necessary in order for us to live our lives to the fullest, as God intended.
    3. iii.      Practicing hospitality towards God in our lives means that we are making room in our hearts for God, and we are embracing the new life that He has for us.
    4. iv.      We have to look for ways to invite God into our lives, and making that a priority in our lives is what makes it radical
      1. It is different from the cultural norms of our society.
      2. Requires us to step outside of ourselves – and outside of a culture that says, “Me, me, me!” – not only to say “Yes!” to God, but to bring others to the point in their lives, where they are able to say “Yes!” to Him as well.
      3. This brings us to the reason for the church.  The reason why we exist as a congregation.
      4. Radical Hospitality extends beyond ourselves
        1. God’s grace at work in the church
          1. i.      Just as God’s prevenient grace is at work in our lives to draw us closer to Him, it is at work in the church to create an environment that is welcoming and surrounds people with love.
          2. ii.      Radical hospitality, when it comes to the church, is more than just a handshake and a smile.
          3. iii.      Radical hospitality requires that we put ourselves out there, even when it is awkward and inconvenient to invite people – not just to our church, but to the kingdom of God.
  9. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that there is more to this world than just what we see.
    1. i.      Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
    2. ii.      We never know who will walk through those doors, and so, every Sunday, we should be prepared to welcome any person as though that person was Jesus himself.
    3. iii.      That means we have to be intentional about what we do both within these walls, and even outside of the walls of the church.
  10. In his book Leading Beyond the Walls, Adam Hamilton gives us three questions to consider:
    1. i.      Why do people need Christ?
    2. ii.      Why do people need the church?
    3. iii.      And why do people need this particular congregation?
  11. Answering these questions is critical to becoming a thriving, fruitful congregation that is being faithful to God’s call.
    1. i.      If we don’t know why people need Christ, then we aren’t going to invite them into a saving relationship with him.
    2. ii.      If we don’t know why people need the church, then we are never going to fully develop disciples of Jesus Christ in a community of faith.
    3. iii.      If we don’t know why people need this congregation, then we have no reason to be here.
      1. If this building burned down tomorrow, would anybody outside of it even notice that it was gone?
      2. Are we leaving a footprint in our community, or are we just a speck of dust that nobody notices?
      3. These are serious questions that we have to think about as a congregation.
      4. In order to be a church that is filled with radical hospitality, we have to ask questions like this.
  12. Radical hospitality means that we pray, plan, prepare and work toward the purpose of helping others receive what we have received in Christ.
    1. i.      We are here because someone showed this kind of hospitality to us.  Someone invited us to hear about Jesus.
    2. ii.      It is not something that comes naturally at first.  It is a matter of us saying “Yes!” to God in our personal lives, and carrying it over into our life as the community of faith right here in Veedersburg/Hillsboro.
    3. iii.      I am always  reminded of the story of Philip and Nathanael at the end of John 1.
      1. Jesus calls Philip to follow him, and Philip goes out to tell his buddy Nathanael that they have found the one who Moses wrote about.
      2. Philip tells him that it is Jesus of Nazareth, and Nathanael says, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
      3. Philip doesn’t feel the need to go into a deep, theological discussion on the value of Nazareth and its potential Messianic implications.  He simply says, “Come and see.”
      4. We don’t have to have all the answers.  We simply need to point people to Jesus and say, “Come and see.”
  13. The work of radical hospitality
    1. i.      It may sound odd to say this, but hospitality requires work.
      1. We have to attend to the details.
      2. We have to put ourselves in another’s shoes.
      3. We have to think outside of ourselves and our preferences.
    2. ii.      We cannot expect others to come in and conform to the way that we have always done things.
      1. That is not hospitality; that is putting ourselves before our guests.
      2. You wouldn’t dream of going into a store where the employees told you what to do, and you wouldn’t dare go to a restaurant where the server told you what you were going to eat.
      3. So, why would we have a church that would not take into consideration the needs of those who may come through the door?
      4. When we start listening to God and putting ourselves in the shoes of those who visit, we get a better picture of what we need to do as a congregation to emphasize radical hospitality.
      5. Conclusion
        1. I know we’ve covered a lot of ground this morning, but I hope you are starting to get a sense of what exactly radical hospitality is.

It’s not just a smile and a handshake, but it is saying “Yes!” to God’s invitation in our personal lives, and extending that invitation to others, all the while creating an environment that is welcoming and inviting and allows others to see the impact that Christ has made in our lives and the impact that He can make in their lives.