It is easy to remember the first time I entered FUMC as the senior pastor. Though it wasn’t the very first time I ever entered First Church, since I was appointed to San Angelo before. Prior to June 2011 I was always a visitor to the big church downtown. Now, by some comical plan of God, I am now the Senior Pastor of the big church downtown. Though my most recent first time came with expectations from the congregation that are specific to being the pastor, it came with the common emotions that any first time visitor has to a church. Apprehension, doubt, timidity and lack of confidence seem to be common to us all. Now you could easily argue that people shouldn’t be anxious about coming into a church for the first time, because all church people would say, “everyone is welcome at (insert the church.)” But each person comes with a past that fuels their insecurities – even well seasoned pastors.
I have to say I was glad when that first Sunday was over. For one thing all the firsts were over also, now next week most things that happen would be seconds not firsts. Ofcourse the goal is to make everyone’s first become a second. I also know that welcoming a pastor is somewhat unique to welcoming a first time visitor, but the principles of Radical Hospitality are the same. True Radical Hospitality flows out of a knowledge that God loves us. When we know that fact then we naturally should be willing to welcome others in the name of God.
I know this, I was glad to see some familiar and hospitable people that first day. It was good to see Jane Smith and Karen and Mark Clark early on that first day. It was good to be reunited with old friends Rick Mantooth and Fred Key and new friends James and Jeannie Elder. Those familiar faces made it so much easier. I am aware that many visitors come and see now familiar faces, but then it is the goal of Radical Hospitality to become a familiar face as soon as possible to these newcomers. I believe many from First Church are eager to become familiar faces to others.
Where to you see that eagerness? Who are those so routinely practice radical hospitality?