A Culture of Hospitality
A Service of the Parish Evaluation Project
July, 2012A Culture of Hospitality First impressions make all the difference as people enter church. Many parishes have greeters at the doors to welcome all who attend. Some have a special ministry of hospitality that makes sure all Masses have welcomers at every door and even out onto the street. This is all to the good, but it is more important to create a “culture of hospitality” that pervades every aspect of parish life, from the weekend Masses to the Ice Cream Social, from the combined First Communion of school and RE students to sending bulletins to graduated seniors during their first year away from home. No one is excluded because everyone belongs. Creating the Image Pastor John Petty at All Saints Lutheran Church in Aurora, Colorado manifested the image and culture of hospitality through a notice on their website, www.allsaintsnet.org. We came across it while visiting St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in New Middletown, Ohio. The pastor at St. Paul’s used it in his homily after which he got a round of applause. What a church we would be if we could put this invitation into practice. All are welcome! We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, dirt poor, y no habla ingles. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new-borns, skinny as a rail, or could afford to lose a few pounds. We welcome you if you sing like Andrea Bocelli or like our pastor who can’t carry a note in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you’re just browsing, just woke up, or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been in church since little Joey’s baptism. We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems, or you’re down in the dumps, or you don’t like “organized religion;” we’ve been there too. If you blew all your offering money at the casino, you’re welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who think the earth is flat, who work hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or come because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church. We welcome those who are inked, pierced, or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid, or got lost in traffic and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers, doubters, bleeding hearts . . . and you! All are welcome! This is the culture that will fill churches, will make the parish social worth attending, will give people the courage to attend a parish talk and even ask a question. It will offset the gossiping, the bullying, the “we know what’s best” or “we don’t belong” attitude. It’s the gospel come alive.