HH and I live in a neighborhood within walking distance of four coffeeshops, three breweries, and about fifteen restaurants. We have a lot of choices about where we will spend our time and money.
We like the brewery closest to our home, not just because it’s convenient, but also because they have a culture of hospitality and especially a culture of service to the community that makes us want to be with them. The photos above were taken in one of their clean and modern bathrooms. Note the accomodations to parents. Note the organizations they partner with for the good of the community.
We also live within walking distance of nine houses of worship. Although my ministry involves working with 93 Presbyterian congregations – including three within walking distance to my home – I often ponder, “What church would I join, if I could join just one?“
I would connect with a church that has a strong culture of hospitality and an especially strong culture of service to the community.
Even and especially in this season of social distancing and face masks, we can offer hospitality and outreach into the neighborhood. Congregations who continue to offer those things are thriving during this pandemic.
As followers of Jesus, we have the added opportunity to partner with people in faith. What does that look like during a pandemic?
- Include both prayer and relational time in Zoom meetings. Open each Bible Study, Book Study, or meeting with a relational question: Share what you know about your own baptism. Who has had the greatest impact on your spiritual life besides Jesus? Share the first time you remember observing racism. Make the question fit your context. Yes, this will make the meeting Zoom run longer but it might be the most important part of the meeting. And pray specifically for people by name.
- Call those going through both good and not-so-good things and pray with them on the phone. (Your pastors can teach you how to do this if you don’t know how/feel too nervous to pray out loud.)
- Invite people to participate in activities that serve others during this pandemic. Write letters to strangers in retirement communities or nursing homes. (Look up the ones closest to you and find out where to send the letters for distribution.) Start a drive to share stimulus checks (if you do not need the check for your own day to day needs) with a local food pantry or shelter. Collect gift cards so that each family in the hotel for evicted families gets at least one.
How sad is it when a brewery builds a better sense of community than many of our churches? It can be really fun to change this.
Images from Pilot Brewing in Charlotte, NC