Monday, July 18, 2011

Run Out # 04 'Hospitality'

Orange cordial and salmon sandwiches or pizza and coke? It doesn't matter, but what does is the spirit of generosity and genuine hospitality offered whenever young people encounter the local community of faith in the form of the local church... whether in a mission setting or on the property. [For the record, pizza and soft drinks or homemade soup and damper, a 'fair dinkum' BBQ or bring a plate feast are far better than orange cordial].
Hospitality includes: sense of welcome; the love of God; inclusiveness; access to resources; keys to the crockery; and a shelf in the fridge. [1] of my tests for whether a congregation is 'on board' in mission and ministry with young people, is whether the paid Youth Worker or voluntary Leader/s have a set of keys to the spaces they need to use... hospitality extends to respect and trust.
A few years ago I visited a rural NSW town where the Uniting Church had a difficult recent history exacerbating the universal challenge of connecting with young people.
One adult Leader who was a good networker and Scout Leader drew a crowd which on one occasion included some local homeless youth. On this night the boisterous game of soccer led to some ball marks on the wall and at the time of my visit the Church Council were holding out on a paint job for some sort of certainty the hall would remain in good condition. I have no idea if the painting has gone ahead but I am sure there are few if any young people meeting in the aptly titled "Youth Hall" [or that's what it's named on the brass sign in the foyer].
I understand the apprehension but you need to move past it and risk the rough and tumble signs of use that come with people traffic and hospitality. Make your expectations clear, but don't hold people to ransom and betray what you really value!! Hospitality is one key marker of SPACE, PERMISSION and VALIDITY!!

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