Scott Benhase, Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Georgia, recently wrote that radical hospitality alone is no longer adequate. In his understanding, the theology most commonly undergirding radical hospitality is such that it supposes something of a “law of attraction” wherein “if we’re just open and welcoming enough people will naturally be attracted to us and want to come and join our churches.” In reality, the number of people who are attracted continues to dwindle thereby rendering it increasingly ineffective. If a congregation offers radical hospitality but no newcomers arrive to receive it, what value does it add?
Like Benhase, I have been involved in far more conversations about how congregations can provide radical hospitality and ensure every newcomer receives an extravagant welcome than in those about the larger issue of how to generate newcomer entry points. Benhase proposes we replace the commonplace theology of attraction with a theology of mission. This shift would mean that instead of making our buildings and services attractive to people who show up, we should “leave the friendly confines of our church buildings and go to where people are.”
- Does your congregation operate primarily from a theology of attraction or a theology of mission? How does this impact the way most people are introduced to the life of your congregation?
- For congregations who have operated with a theology of attraction for decades but realize it is no longer adequate, what strategic first steps would you recommend they consider?