At the Summit, we’re currently going through the book of Acts of Sunday morning. Our Cannonball series is walking us through the “why” of church life. Because of that, I’m teaming up with the Small Groups Guy this week as we take a team approach to the “one another” passages in scripture. Make sure and check out Spence’s post for the day here.
1 Peter 4:9: Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (ESV)
The Summit is a hospitable church. No doubt about that. As the guy who’s responsible for guest services around this place, I get feedback all the time on how friendly everybody is, how warm and welcoming people are, and how each “wow” experience causes our guests to want to return.
But can it last?
I mean seriously, how long can we keep this up? Eventually we just have to hit the “us four and no more” mentality. Or perhaps in our case…”us four thousand and no…umm…whatever rhymes with ‘thousand’.” Think about it: eventually you’re going to get tired of scooting in to make room. At some point the half-mile walk to the auditorium is going to get old. Someday down the road the fact that you have to keep introducing yourself to new people is going to get on your last nerve.
Or has it already?
It’s a subtle, yet toxic killer that can creep up on any of us. It’s when we start sizing people up not on the fact that they’re someone loved by God, but how long they’ve been here in comparison to us. It’s when we roll our eyes or sigh (even inwardly) when we hear another pastor say, “We need to make room!” It’s when we clap and cheer when we hear growth statistics, but on the inside we are asking, “How much longer can we run like this?”
A few years back when we were hovering around the 1,000 attendee mark, I had a conversation with a guy who asked me, “At what point do we start turning people away and tell them to go to another church?” What I said was: “We won’t. Ever.” What I was thinking was: “What if we had tried that when you walked up the sidewalk for the first time?”
Simply put: growth hurts. And we have to admit it’s somewhat easy to maintain cordial relationships and warm welcomes when you’re in a smaller church and God sends the occasional guest. But what happens when your new people (here a few months or less) outnumber your seasoned veterans? Does there come a point where we get to say, “Enough is enough?”
I don’t think so. And Peter definitely didn’t think so. His command was a two-parter:
- Show hospitality.
- Without grumbling.
Ouch. You see, even when hospitality is something we do, it’s not always something we feel. But genuine, “Hey-how-are-you,” gospel-centered personality should be our goal. Even more, our goal should be to do it without grumbling. Grumbling takes the gospel out of hospitality. Grumbling may preserve the words of greeting, but it kills the heart of hospitality. Grumbling will kill your guest services faster than anything you can imagine.
Hospitality should be organic. It should be real. And it should spring from the command that we’re given in scripture. Because in the end, your guests will know. I don’t know how they know…they just know.
Want to learn more? Check out the First Impressions Training at Frontline, coming up on January 17 at our Brier Creek Campus.