Welcome! I Wish You’d Leave

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Have you ever been to a place where you expected hospitality and received none? How did it make you feel?

One of the best parts of having a child that participates in competitive activities like sports or dance is that you have the chance to see different parts of the country. This also includes quite a few hotel stays. Being a campus missionary and now a pastor I have friends all over the country which means that often I get to bypass the hotel and stay with a friend.

This week is no different. My son, a teammate, and I are staying with good friends at their home. We are loved, cared for, welcomed, and extended a depth of hospitality that makes us feel known.

The team is staying at a hotel that is not far from my friend’s home. The team is not experiencing any sense of hospitality. If anything, they are experiencing the opposite. The staff of this hotel make the guests of the hotel feel very much as though they don’t belong. There are glaring looks, eye rolls, and nasty comments. Their words say, “Welcome!” Their actions says, “I wish you’d leave!”

Most hotel staffs that our teams have stayed at have been amazingly welcoming. They get involved in wanting to know about the success and failures of the teams. They celebrate and weep with us. It’s so much fun for the guys to return to their hotel and tell the front desk person or manager tales from the day. But at this hotel, there is none of that. Simply judgment, resentment, and bad attitudes.

Suffice it to say, the families of our team feel unwelcome. There is no desire to ever return to that hotel. Why? Because there was no hospitality.

As I talk with friends who have left religion behind I find that there is a common thread. They did not experience hospitality. Their experience of the Church was not that of being welcomed by a good friend into their home. It was the experience of being a customer who is putting the service worker out. They feel judgment, resentment, and a negative attitude toward them from “the regulars.”

Politeness is not hospitality. When you are just being polite but without love, people see through it. They know that you are simply tolerating them. Hospitality is the welcoming of these people with genuine love and kindness.

I think this is one of the reasons that hosting a missional community in our home has been so transformative for our family. We have had to learn genuine hospitality. This means that we have had to open our hearts to people and not just go through the motions. When you practice hospitality you risk being hurt because you are opening yourself to others.

Are we willing to risk hospitality?