Conversation Sundays

Why Radical Hospitality Matters in a Lutheran Church

Radical hospitality has deep roots in the Lutheran tradition.

Ministries of the Law vs ministries of the Spirit

In a famous distinction that teaches us what it means to practice radical hospitality, Martin Luther contrasted two types of churches.

The first were ministries of the Law. These are the ministries that wanted to show you how to live a holier life by following a prescriptive set of rules. These ministries practice hospitality. Anyone is welcome. Provided they come to think and act a specific way.

Luther also wrote about ministries of the Spirit. A ministry of the Spirit teaches only the grace of Christ. Rather than striving to follow a set of rules or prescriptions, a ministry of the Spirit teaches us that we have already received God’s grace. In response to the transformation that occurred through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we gather as a church to give thanks.

It’s all about Gratitude

Radical hospitality is what this outpouring of gratitude looks like. It’s what it means to be truly present to the needs of our neighbor. As Ryan Dunn explains, to practice radical hospitality is to shift from a mindset of saying “you are welcome here” to a mindset of asking “how can we be with you?”

We show up as a church because it is through this community that God shows up. We give thanks for that presence. And we welcome others so that they too can experience God’s grace in their lives. When we make this shift, we let go of our insistence that someone become more like us. All that is left is a grateful presence.

In a culture that is so quick to judge between right and wrong, where the practice of hospitality is itself an attempt to get people to be more like us, radical hospitality is difficult work. Yet it is the work to which Good Shepherd is called. To give thanks for what God has done. To respond to God’s goodness by welcoming all.

Watch the Message

Theologian-in-Residence Ryan Panzer led the first Conversation Sunday on Sunday, October 9. You can watch his sermon on Radical Hospitality below: