hospitality

My Sunday Failure

Slow-Cooked-Chuck-Roast-Vegetables-Cooked-for-8-Hours

Each Sunday morning we chase 6 kids through the house, praying that we can somehow get all of the kids clean, dressed and ready for church in time for service.  We of course run into many obstacles such as babies pooping at the last minute, missing shoes, no clean pants, AWAL Bibles (how do you misplace something you use daily?), and any number of other issues.  If we are lucky, we can make it out of the door without having to threaten bodily harm to at least one of the children.  If it is a normal Sunday, we simply make sure everyone has their church face firmly intact before we make it to the church.  We can’t let people see how crazy we really are.

In our wakes we leave a house that looks like an explosion went off in it, dogs wondering what the heck just happened, and a poor fish that questions why God put him in a family of 8, where not a single person has the mental ability to remember to feed it.  If we ever went missing on a Sunday morning and the police were called they would expect foul play based on the fact that there was an obvious struggle in the house, and the residents left extremely quickly.

When we arrive at church we make small talk with the greeters (almost all of whom we know and love), we run what feels like miles between rooms dropping of kids on what seems like every continent before we rush into the Sunday school with moments to spare, and collapse into our seats.  If we are lucky we say hello to a few of our many church friends, or at least wave to them as we rush down the halls.  We enjoy a service with our wonderful small group and then catch up with the families of our church on our way to the sanctuary.

As service begins we continue to greet our many friends and enjoy a nice service of worshipping our Creator and Savior among people we love so much.  We sit under the convicting teaching of a pastor deeply in love with the Word of God, and we are feed and watered from the Word.  The whirlwind morning in getting here is beyond worth it.  We love this place

As the service ends we rush back to the 4 corners of the earth to pick up our children and try to find a way to exit the building before the 3 hours of built up energy of the children is released all over the church building.  We know if we don’t get out quickly the foyer will become the playground, and nobody wins then…

Our event ends as we walk into the mess that we left behind and work to pick up the pieces of our insane morning, while digging through the cupboards to determine if we are going to have our usual Sunday sandwiches, or if a magical fairy has went to Wal-Mart for us and brought something else to eat.

Sunday is an insane, wonderful day of the week, and no matter how crazy it gets, I look forward to it.

Recently I have been convicted that I am missing a key part of my Sunday morning.  Each week God brings half dozen or more families into our church that have never been there before.  Many others come who have visited previously, but have no real connection to the church.  They are simply strangers passing through.

Having been a member of this church for a decade I should easily notice when a face appears that I do not know, but I never look long enough to see.  I am so focused on my agenda to greet those familiar, I look past those who may be scratching their heads wondering which way to go inside the mob of humanity.  I miss seeing those who are looking for a familiar, or friendly face in the crowd.

Today I commit myself to the task of working to restructure my Sunday morning routine.  I comit to finding a way to have a Sunday morning where crazy is not the norm.  One where we leave the house looking as it should, and we walk into the doors fresh and ready to greet each other.  A routine where I spend time, while seeing my church family, to look for those who may be new.

I also commit to finding a way to bring back the most forgotten and neglected part of the church.  Hospitality.

Having preached and visited many churches over the years, I know the power held in that one simple question, “Would you like to come over for lunch after the service?”  I know that this warm, welcoming question opens the door to a great deal of ministry and friendship.  I know that should a seeker find our church, a simple warm, home cooked crock pot meal might mean the world.

Today I commit to bring back the notion that we as a church should warmly welcome new faces into the fold, and make them feel as ‘at home’ as possible.  I will find a way, even with 6 kids, to create a Sunday morning environment where that is possible.

Will you join me?

I know how often I fail.  I know how crazy life gets, and I know that my best intentions don’t always pan out.  I also know, that the simple act of inviting guests home for lunch could have eternal ramifications.

Would you join me on this quest?

If you see a lost face in the crowd this Sunday, or if you see a family that you have never met before.  Before you shake hands, and offer a hug to those who you know, reach out to the new family.  Make sure they know where they are going.  Show them where the secret coffee pot is at.  And maybe, if your house doesn’t look like a war between GI Joe and Barbie was waged in the living room, you could invite them home for lunch.

It is amazing the impact that such a small gesture can have.

Our first visit to Antioch was on November 21, 2004.  We were searching for a church family, and a place to worship God, but we didn’t know exactly what we were looking for.  We just knew we would know when we found it.  We were greeted at the door my David Moerer, who then introduced us to his wife Karen.  They helped us make sure that we dropped our children off in the correct places, and invited us to join them in worship.  They made us feel at home.

10+ years later this is still our home, and we are forever grateful for such a warm welcome that cold November morning.  It is time I start showing others that same hospitality.