That’s the radical hospitality prayer, isn’t it? “Who’s not part of our congregation that you would like to be, Jesus?” It’s a more poignant prayer than it once was: United Methodist congregations, as a whole, now mirror less and less the demographics of their communities. There are all sorts of reasons -- and many more excuses -- offered as to why this is the case. It seems to me that the only spiritually honest response to our congregations embracing only people “like us,” is humbly to pray, “Lord, who would you have me reach out to today with your love?”
As their second strategic initiative over the next four years, the Florida Conference is asking us to be: “Congregations where all people find welcome.” In a state that is among the most diverse of all states in a nation that is the most diverse of all nations in the world, this is nothing less than a vision of the God’s Kingdom “come, on earth as it is in heaven.” You just can’t read through the New Testament without acknowledging that Jesus expanded people’s sense of who “God’s people” are meant to include -- and then the Holy Spirit kept on expanding it.
- Is it a neighbor who has tattoos and a tongue piercing?
- A single mom struggling to keep it together?
- A couple whose native language is not your own?
- A family whose skin is shaded differently than yours?
- A person who sleeps under the highway overpass?
- A youth having to hold up his pants when he walks by texting a friend?
- A woman with mental disabilities?
- A man addicted to alcohol?
even if at times irritatingly so, consider forwarding it to
other leaders in your congregation and encouraging them to
sign up at www.congregationalexcellence.com.
JeffDr. Jeff Stiggins
The Center for Congregational Excellence