What is Christian Hospitality? Brian D. McLaren, a veteran Pastor, explores the subject in Newsweek's "On Faith" Blog.
Check out an excerpt below:
Sally Qunn's tribute to Tim Russert, and in particular the story of her choosing to take the eucharist at Tim's Catholic funeral, reminded me of so many stories I've heard through the years ... stories of sincere people with little or no religious commitment, meeting someone like Tim Russert whose faith was real and winsome, and through them being drawn closer to God, or at least to the possibility of searching for God.
Sadly, some of the responses to her story also reminded me of these stories, because very often, when people began reaching toward God, they would naturally seek out a church. But what they often met in the church was disdain, rejection, critique, exclusion, judgment, and other less-than-hospitable treatment. No doubt, the people who "welcomed" them this way thought they were doing the right thing, and perhaps they were from some vantage point. [snip]
In my book "A Search for What is Real" (Zondervan, 2007), I wrote a chapter that could be helpful to both the insiders and outsiders. It was called "Why Is Church the Last Place I Think of for Help in My Spiritual Search?" I talked about three types of churches.
First, there are Type 1 or "finders only" churches - and these are represented by the most critical responses to Sally's story.
Second, there are Type 2 or "seekers only" churches, which "attract the kind of people who are turned off by ... Type 1 dogmatism." These faith communities welcome everyone, but they become less hospitable the clearer and deeper a person's spiritual commitments and experiences become.
I end up highlighting the need for more Type 3 or "seeker-finder" faith communities, groups which take on the dynamic challenge of being highly welcoming to seekers and skeptics, while having high levels of commitment and deep reservoirs of theology in their core members.