Friday, May 11, 2007

Part 3 of 3

IT WORKS; TRY IT. With the reboot of Horizon House, we began to effectively develop a functional hospitality paradigm at a significant organizational scale. It was awesome to to be part of that process for four years before I was assigned to a local pastorate by my Free Methodist Conference. I am confident that hospitality in this and many other insstances can transform social services for a much greater good.

COSTS, RISKS OF HOSPITALITY. But hospitality as a paradigm in social services is always at risk. I perceive that hospitality can quickly become a catch-phrase and cliché in organizational life. We can say “hospitality” but practice something unworthy of its meaning. Hospitality will always be emotionally costly. It will always take a lot more of a volunteer or staff person’s time with fewer guests than is thought financially feasible. It will always blur the lines that professionals and mere do-gooders like to maintain. It will always be a bit more complicated and entangled than funders who are enamored with neat flow charts and sharp trend lines like to support. So, hospitality may not be for everyone or every social service organization. Even when it works, it may not be supported.

NOTHING COMPARES. But I am convinced that once an organization and those who are engaged with it have had the experience of genuine hospitality, nothing else will seem quite as good, quite as effective, quite as close to what is conveyed in instances of Biblical community. The fruit of hospitality is relationship, hope, and community.

WE ARE NEIGHBORS. In the three years since I was assigned to serve as Senior Pastor of a near-downtown congregation, hardly a week goes by that I do not encounter a homeless or now-housed neighbor who was once—or still is—a guest of Horizon House. We pick up on a lingering conversation or talk about our lives or surmise how something in the community might be improved. I move on from such encounters feeling both blessed and burdened—blessed to be “on the level” with my neighbor and able to receive his or her gifts, and burdened that we—that I—have such a long way to go to realize the blessed community to which our Lord called us.

The journey into hospitality continues.

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