Understanding the meaning of the Greek word Philoxenia will change the meaning of hospitality for your church. The short definition of this word is “hospitality.” The more correct translation is “to love strangers.”
What if our church hospitality ministry was more focused on loving strangers?
Here are a handful of thoughts about this:
1) In many cases, well meaning church folk think they are being a friendly church because they are all talking to each other.
2) I’ve often noticed that it’s hard for greeters and ushers to stay motivated to watch for new people when it may not happen all that frequently. Stay at your post and keep a watch out for the opportunity to engage in true hospitality.
3) If the church relies solely on the pastor to approach new people, the church won’t grow past a certain size.
4) A true love for strangers might drive the mission of the church to reach out and place an emphasis on meeting those in the community you have never met. It’s not easy work, but there are many ways to accomplish this.
5) I once heard John Maxwell say that the single most important person on Sunday morning is the guest. It makes sense. People who call the church home already know the ropes, the directions, and what to expect. The regulars need help the strangers feel welcomed and at ease. Every aspect of Sunday morning hospitality ought to be geared toward the stranger sensing they are loved.
6) Everyone in a church is part of the hospitality team. Don’t be fooled thinking that you don’t have to worry about it because you aren’t scheduled to serve the donuts that morning! Hospitality should not be a department in the church – it should be the church.
The slight rephrasing of this word should make a difference in how you welcome people. How are you showing true hospitality to strangers in your midst?