A decade ago, United Methodist Bishop Robert Schnase wrote a book entitled Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations. That book and a variety of supporting resources that followed resulted in a movement toward congregational health that has extended beyond denominational lines and made an impact in many churches.
The five practices are: Radical Hospitality, Passionate Worship, Intentional Faith Development, Risk-Taking Mission and Service, and Extravagant Generosity.
I have applied the principles of the five practices in a variety of ways and to one degree or another in the churches I have served as an interim. As a community of faith moves through the journey of transition between rectors, these five aspects of its life and mission deserve special attention so that everyone will be ready to enter a new era of mission when the new rector arrives.
St. Martin’s already has some experience with the Five Practices material and I want us to revisit them together at this stage of transition. Let’s start this week with Radical Hospitality.
Radical Hospitality in our personal walk with Christ begins with an extraordinary receptivity to the grace of God. In distinctive and personal ways, we invite God into our hearts and make space for God in our lives. We say Yes to God and open ourselves to the spiritual life. We accept God’s love and acceptance of us. We receive God’s love and offer it to others.
I met last week with some of those who have been promoting radical hospitality at St. Martin’s. We are beginning to explore what is happening and what else needs to happen to be sure that our “no exceptions” policy is authentic and consistent. It has to apply to those who are newcomers to this church and school as well as to those who are members.
One of the most obvious and important ways of practicing radical hospitality is with an inviting and tasty coffee hour following worship. We have begun a somewhat new approach to our coffee hour after the 8:30 and 10:30 Sunday morning services. When you enter the parish hall, you will see a round table in the center of the room. On that table will be a spread of tasty items along with coffee, tea, punch, and water. There are items that are attractive to both the kids and the adults. We’re also placing visitor information cards and name tags on the table. Coffee hour hosts have been provided with the details of the new procedures and may be asking for assistance. Greeters are escorting newcomers to the parish hall.
This brief time for companionship before going about our Sunday activities allows us to welcome and get acquainted with those who are new and to strengthen relationships within the faith community. I hope each one of you will make a new commitment to participate in coffee hour. And make it a point to speak first to someone you don’t recognize.
Thanks to Flo Lowry, Linda Snow, and Ann Luttrell whose counsel helped to give a shot in the arm to our coffee hour. Thanks also to all those who are serving as hosts. If you’d like to help, contact Linda Snow at 682-717-9238 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll see you in Church!
The Very Rev'd Ron Pogue
St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church
P.S. Next week we'll talk about extravagant generosity as we get ready for Consecration Sunday, October 20. If you haven't yet let us know your attendance plans, please contact the parish office right away or go online HERE.