Radical Hospitality- Going above and beyond to love others into the family of Christ.
This is not my term. Bishop Schnase has made this concept of radical hospitality famous, and deservedly so. It has been refreshing to hear of United Methodist Churches that have embraced this concept of Radical Hospitality in unique ways. Radical hospitality is not coffee and donuts. It is not a greeter at the door. It is an orientation of our being that sees everyone as a valued guest.
Jesus showed some pretty radical hospitality. In Luke 14, he commands us that when we are to have a dinner, do not invite your friends or the rich folk, but to invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. This is both a practical command, so that if we are the church, we are to invite those people who are outcasts of our societies into our church and minister to them, but it is also a statement of humility. Showing hospitiality means that you see those people who others see as outcasts, you see as family. Not the 2nd cousin twice removed that you have only seen at a few funerals kind of family, but the spouse or child type of family. Radical hospitality has that sort of views toward persons. I do not see strangers, but family that I have not had the privilege to meet yet.
People who operate out of a perspective of Radical Hospitality, do not have a tight hold on “their” church. This is God’s church that they are called to be a part of, but they understand that they are merely stewards of this church that exists for both the people who are inside the walls and outside the walls of the church. Thus, people who are radically hospitable are willing to embrace change for the sake of others. Being radically hospitable simply requires sacrifice. If you want to talk about radical hospitable, think Jesus, who showed the most radical of all hospitality by the incarnation, the coming of Christ on Earth. Philippians 2 communicates it beautifully, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (NRSV) As Jesus is in so many things, Jesus is our exemplar of Radical Hospitality.
So, this church would be people who would love for deep, meaningfully, expressions of love for others, especially those who are not-yet Christians, as we attempt to have the Same Mind as Christ Jesus. Creativity is needed for expressions of this, and the UMC has been embracing this concept since Bishop Schnase has published his transformative book 5 Practices of Fruitful Congregations, and we must continue to particularize this vision in our local settings.
If we keep our eyes open, we can see people who are radically hospitable around us in the world. Great customer service is categorized by people who are radically hospitable in the world. At Saul Good the restaurant that I work at, my boss Rob is someone who is radically hospitable. He does not know it, but he has taught me about seeing everyone as Jesus’ guest. One example should suffice. Not too long ago, Rob made a mistake. Now, this is a rare occurrence, he doesn’t make many mistakes that I am aware of. He received a phone call of a party of 17 that was hoping to eat dinner at Saul Good for that evening. They told him 6:45. He wrote down 7:45. You can see the problem coming, can’t you? They show up at 6:45 to a crowded restaurant with no room for 17 anytime soon. Rob, who cannot interact with them personally because of the other needs of the restaurant informs others to take care of this group and buy them drinks and appetizers. To make a long story short, there was some confusion, and this group of 17 walks out and goes to another restaurant down the street. So, an hour later, once things have settled down, Rob gets the whole story and thinking from a radical hospitality perspective does something nuts. He goes down to the other restaurant, finds the group, talks to the leader of the group, and he does not give out free appetizer coupons to Saul Good, so that they will come back later. He does not offer for them to come back to Saul Good, and he will buy them desert. He doesn’t blame somebody else. He does the radical hospitality thing, and he buys 20 desserts for them at the other place. He finds them and takes cares of them where they are. Now, where are these people more likely to eat at next? The place where they were served and probably served well, or the place where the owner found them and took care of them at a great cost. This is radical hospitality.