Our Core Ministry

The way I unlock the church doors each morning has changed.  I still set the bars with the Allan Key so both doors open freely.  But now, as I set them, I say a little prayer: “May our hearts and minds be open.  May we be a hospitable community.”

At our Annual Meeting we agreed “That St. John’s identify radical and intentional hospitality as our core ministry at this time and that we review this decision annually.”

Some speakers expressed concern about the word “radical”.  Would that word be “off-putting”?  Others liked it as way of distinguishing the kind of hospitality to which we aspire from the more common use of the word. David pointed out that the word radical comes from the Latin word “radix” the same word from which we get radish.  So to be radical, is to get at the root of the thing – to go deep.  In chemistry a radical can refer to an atom, molecule or ion – the smallest element – in a chemical reaction.  In the end we “toned the statement down a little” by adding the word “intentional”.

As small congregations we can’t do everything. Naming a core ministry helps us to remain focused and effective without burning ourselves out.

Hospitality is always a core ministry of the Christian community.  There are countless examples in the Bible of being blessed by the ancient imperative to be hospitable.

Hospitality has always been an important aspect of our ministry at St. John’s. In practical terms this decision means that hospitality will shape the all aspects of our ministry. Hospitality is extended in big and small ways: hosting a travelling group; being open to a new idea; or opening our home to a stranger; or inviting a friend into the St. John’s community; or simply giving a tour of our building to a visitor. The list is inexhaustible.

In spiritual terms, a ministry of hospitality means asking “How did Christ appear to me in this stranger?” or “Was God speaking to us through this act of welcome.”  When we practice radical and intentional hospitality we are ultimately trying to learn how to welcome God.

I encourage everyone involved in the activities and community life of St. Johns to be thinking and praying about how we can really live out this intention to practice radical and intentional hospitality.