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The Welcoming Congregation: Roots and Fruits of Christian Hospitality Paperback – June 25, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


Colorful, contemporary examples and thoughtful, biblical underpinnings. -- Alison Bennett, The Presbyterian Outlook

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

Full of creative, practical suggestions for anyone interested in the subject, all from a very warm, pastoral spirit. -- Carlus Gupton, Life and Leadership

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

From the Author

I am a parish pastor -- not a seminary professor, church historian, sociologist of religion, or biblical scholar -- and my passion for hospitality comes out of a deep love for the church and a strong desire to see congregations become more welcoming. I truly believe that embracing all people is the will of God and that we show faithfulness when we move ever closer to that goal.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press; First Edition edition (June 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664237002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664237004
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #582,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Henry G. Brinton is a contributor to The Washington Post and USA Today, author or co-author of five books, and the senior pastor of Fairfax Presbyterian Church. He lives in Fairfax, Virginia, outside of Washington, D.C. Henry and his wife, Nancy Freeborne-Brinton, have two children, Sarah and Sam. An endurance athlete, Henry has completed a marathon, triathlon, or century bike ride a year since he turned 40 in the year 2000.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Henk-Jan van der Klis on September 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
With the support of a National Clergy Renewal Program grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc., Henry G. Brinton recently took a three-month sabbatical from his work as senior pastor of Fairfax Presbyterian Church in Virginia and visited communities of faith in the United States and Europe that are attempting to be uncommon Christian communities--congregations where people of diverse opinions and perspectives may gather, worship, talk, and debate. From the Iona Community in Scotland, Californian Saddleback Church led by Rick Warren, German Reconciliation Parish, a church that has been rebuilt on what was once "no man's land" near the Berlin Wall and Washington National Cathedral Brinton returns home to his Fairfax Presbyterian Church to make up his mind, apply and reform.

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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JOHN KILLINGER on October 31, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a rare kind of book, delightful in its conception and execution. Providing new insights about the biblical idea of hospitality and fleshing them out with references to the author's travels to great Christian centers both ancient and modern, it deepens readers' understanding while inviting them both to give and to receive the warmth of Christ's love. The wonderful blending of passion and scholarship results in a classic treatment of the subject. I highly recommend it to everyone -- pastors, scholars, and church members in general.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gene McAfee on July 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
Pastor Henry G. Brinton has written an accessible, balanced, graceful, and concise best-practices handbook for churches who want to be more welcoming to guests (formerly known as "visitors").

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.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Tina on September 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
I really appreciated this book right up until the chapter on Perceptions, which is the last chapter. And quite honestly, I think it should have been labeled, "Why you should be hospitable to everyone EXCEPT the conservatives in the church." I loved everything that Brinton had to say about hospitality in the first seven chapters of the book and think that it could have ended with those insights.
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.
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