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The Welcoming Congregation: Roots and Fruits of Christian Hospitality Paperback – June 25, 2012
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Biblical insights and a vision of Jesus Christ as a model of openness to all people. -- Mary Ann Brussat, The Lutheran
Distills the best of what is already available while pressing the issues into both greater depth and increased accessibility. -- Patricia Farris, Ministry Matters
Stimulating but not arcane, faithful but not fastidious. -- Byron Borger, Hearts & Minds
A succinct, accessible, and creative guide. -- David Swanson, Englewood Review of Books
A deep analysis of why Christians share a distinctively welcoming vocation in this world. -- David Crumm, Read the Spirit
Points are clearly made, and supported by biblical examples ... Great combination of substance in a useful format. -- Ruth Everhart, Goodreads
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The first part of The Welcoming Congregation, Roots and Fruits of Christian Hospitality, "The Roots of Hospitality," contains five chapters: Biblical and Historical Roots of Christian Hospitality, Sites, Worship, Meals, and Small Groups. The book's second part, "The Fruits of Hospitality," describes how congregations rooted in hospitality are able to grow in reconciliation, outreach, and ever-broadening perceptions of God.
How do these various denominations around the world shape and colour the ministry of welcoming unchurched or seekers to their congregations? Hospitality is the front door. "Every time people sit down to eat and drink together, there is the possibility that community will grow and people will be reconciled to one another. This is good news for a fractured and polarized world, and a strong sign of the importance of being a welcoming congregation that embraces all people with God's love and grace." from the introduction.Read more ›
Drawing on sabbatical research at the Iona Community in Scotland, Saddleback Church in southern California, Reconciliation Parish in Berlin, Germany, and the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, Brinton provides concise lists (in handy boxouts) and discussions of the roots and fruits of Christian hospitality. The book is divided into two parts and a total of eight short chapters; at 125 pages of text, it could easily be read in an afternoon. It is also suitable for a multi-week sustained study. Each chapter concludes with discussion questions, an action plan, and a preaching suggestion.
Although writing for insiders (church lay leaders as well as pastors), Brinton avoids jargon and technicalities, and keeps his focus on the tried-and-true concepts and practices of churches known for the welcome they extend first-time attenders. From his travels and interviews, Brinton identifies five roots of Christian hospitality: (1) biblical and historical mandates and precedents; (2) deliberately welcoming physical and virtual spaces; (3) accessible worship services; (4) regular shared meals; and (5) on-going small groups for study, fellowship, and reflection. The fruits of such a lifestyle for a congregation are (1) deepening reconciliation between groups of different theological and social views; (2) extending a congregation's outreach to its near and far neighbors; and (3) developing ever-widening perceptions of God among members.Read more ›
Brinton does a great job of offering practical insight as well as giving a framework of thought in regards to hospitality. He obviously spent a great deal of time researching what is going on in this field in the church and has seen the good and bad. For the most part he uses positive examples. I'm not sure why he felt compelled to spend the majority of a chapter discussing Rich Warren's theology, but it seemed to negate most of what he was hoping to show the reader when he states "If Rick (Warren) wants to make a strong connection between Saddlebacks's innovative hospitality practices and the actual words of the Bible, he needs to acknowledge that God's welcome has become increasingly inclusive over the long span of salvation history."
I took that statement to say that if I want to experience hospitality, then I have to change. That's not really hospitality at all.
I wish that I could go back and unread this last chapter, because like I said it was a great book right up to that point. And thus, I can only recommend the first seven chapters. In those chapters, you have the tools and encouragement to make hospitality a vital part of any church's ministry. It is those chapters that I highly recommend.
I received this book from Westminster John Knox for the purpose of review.