Saturday, November 19, 2005


I shared a workshop at the Christian Community Development Association's Annual Conference at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Indianapolis this afternoon. I compared and contrasted three approaches to redemptive social action: (1) rescue, (2) providing services, and (3) hospitality. My experience with these--and growth through each of them--track with my own development in ministry/community action. I'll put a hospitality paradigm up against the other approaches for better outcomes and more faithful Christian witness every time.

AN ALTERNATIVE. Here's a quote from Christine Pohl's book Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition: “Hospitality is an alternative way to respond to people with multiple needs in a specialized world. Hospitality demonstrates that important healing takes place within community. Reclaiming hospitality is an attempt to bring back the relational dimension to social services, and to highlight concerns for empowerment and partnership with those who need assistance… The relationships fostered within the practice of hospitality implicitly challenge bureaucratic rules that reinforce separation, isolation, and anonymity. Hospitality suggests ways to break down the barriers between provider and client that are essentially counter to the entire ‘service’ orientation. Hospitality offers a model for developing more reciprocal relationships.”

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