Tuesday, October 18, 2005


"Jesus used stories. I think that's how he got people hooked. It's like you knock them right between the eyes. They think they're being entertained and they're having a good time and all of a sudden he just turned the wand and it's, "Who's my neighbor?" "Oh, no." It might be the Samaritan. It might be the person next door. It might be the homosexual. It might be the homeless person. It might be the drug addict." - Mary, United States

Over at Dan Gates blog one of his posts, "OPEN WHAT?" is dealing with our UMC campaign "Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors".

Gates thoughts on the campaign can be summed up in his statement: "Lowered to its smallest common denominator, each word is a liberal malignancy decorated to appear benign. Here is how it works! Open Minds, really means no matter what heresy or ungodly lifestyle you bring with you, we'll accept it. Open Hearts, it really doesn't matter if you join the church totally un-repentant of your sin, we won't say anything for fear of hurting your feelings. Open Doors? Well, here would be a more open, honest and, perhaps, better slogan, Bring your sin and come on in!!!

Has Rev. Gates read a wee bit too much politic into the campaign? hmmmm.

I think Rev. Gates forgets what many in the church have forgotten- the spiritual practice of HOSPITALITY. The kind of hospitiality that Jesus practiced seems like a forgotten art in some circles today as we argue over who is in and who is out.

I love the stories of Jesus hanging with sinners because he, the host among strangers, turns the tables and allows the strangers to become hosts to him. I think that within our churches today we can take a lot from the idea that Jesus is THE HOST not us. But in being the host Jesus allows the most unacceptable to be both guests and hosts in the house of the Lord.

The benedictines have a wonderful tradition of hospitality. When a xenos/stranger comes to the monastery they greet that stranger as though they are Christ. They feel that when they greet the stranger (they don't ask people about their politics, or their sexual orientation) they feel that Christ is embodied in the stranger.

I invite Rev. Gates and all clergy in the UMC to adopt the spirit and practice of hospitality and the practice of "Jesus Fellowship" within their own congregations and maybe we can live up to "OPEN HEARTS OPEN MINDS OPEN DOORS".



Craig Moore said...

Jonathon, if we invite sinners into our community and treat them with dignity and respect, would you also advocate any mention of sin or a need for a sinner to repent and trust in Christ for their salvation. Jesus talked alot about sin and the need to repent, should we do differently? Unless a person understands and realizes he/she is a sinner they will sense no need to repent of anything.

Should the community of God's people have a totally neutral attitude toward sin and not mention the word in front of a sinner at all. Are you saying we should win them with kindness, hospitality and love? I think this helps and builds trust in their lives, but certainly an awareness of sin and the need to repent needs to be communicated some how, what would you suggest?

St.Phransus said...

I'm unclear why a lot of folks seem to think that just because one might feel that all people ought to be welcome in our congregations that it automatically means that we are neutral toward sin.

The reality is that you are a sinner Craig, as am I, as are every Christian and non-Christian that has ever stepped foot into the church and been a part.

Of course we mention the word sin, but it comes in the liturgical form of CONFESSION. We all stand in need of confessing to God that which seperates us from God. We ALL are there in need of God's transforming grace.

So a church without confession is not church. Confession and reconciliation may be the two most important practices a church can do.

But I totally stand by the claim that ALL people are welcomed into the life of the church. It's not up to us to say who is in or who is out. It is up to us to disciple, nurture, provide a venue to reconcile ourselves to God through confession and pardon, and to practice peace in a world full of violence.

Why do these things? Because it's what Jesus did.

shalom brother,

St.Phransus said...

one other thing i noticed from your thoughts- "Jesus talked alot about sin and the need to repent, should we do differently?"

Absolutely not. Usually there are two groups that Jesus is in conversation with- the religious leaders who were concerned so much with who was in and who was out; and the untouchables and sinful who were excluded.

Check and see which group Jesus talked about sin and repentence with the most? (hint: he called them broods of vipers and hypocrites)


jason said...

if we in the church were really doing what we should be doing - sacrificing what we have, loving the least, having true community etc.; why would an "unrepentent sinner" want to hang out with us anyway

but if your church is about socializing or being seen or other stuff, maybe the unrepentents out there would find reasons to want to fit in

St.Phransus said...

let me commend you on your wonderful blog.

How does an "unrepentent sinner" (why are we putting quotation marks around them?) get to a place where they are convicted of what needs to change in their lives?

hmmmm. maybe it's when you and your congregation keep the doors shut and tell them they can come in when they realize what they don't have and change their ways.

or maybe it's when my church and i invite them to PARTICIPATE in the ministries of our church and to be a part of what God is doing for others and they see what they have been missing in life.

which do you think models the practices of the kingdom.

I don't mean to suggest that you and your church don't operate that way but you seem to be shedding me and my church in some kind of "social club" light. thanks for the compliment, it was as nice as your blog is intersting.


jason said...

sorry for the confusion

i was responding to the first response by cm - i completely agree w/ you in the fact that people need to be brought along in ministry

"your" is not you jonathan - next time i'll be clearer

in fact "your church" is actually more a reflection of the frustration that i have with my own church being concerned with things other than what the church should be about

i enjoy all of your posts and insights on the church - it's just the first response by cm made me start thinking that the problem he listed about people needing to be aware about their sins hanging around a church may make sense in theory but does it really exist in reality?

maybe i'll actually start my blog one day?

St.Phransus said...

you definitely should blog. sorry for the misdirected sarcasm. i spit it out way too fast sometimes.

sorry bout that. it's kinda funny though. re-read your comment as though you are an angry fundamentalist whom i pushed buttons. it totally works.

good stuff, thanks.


St.Phransus said...

cm is on a crazy good pilgrimage right now- working through and unpacking a LOT of stuff. in fact if we're honest w/each other, that's what i hope we're all doing together through our thoughts, prayers and conversations.

shalom friends,

jason said...


yeah you are right

maybe that should be something i should do before i submit anything - reread it as if it were written by an angry fundamentalist and if it made sense, delete - that would be a great filter

St.Phransus said...

ha ha,
from now on i will think of you as jason the angry fundy

jason said...

i don't think anyone would ever accuse me of being a fundy and i rarley become angry but angryfundy.blogspot.com does look enticing - if it's not taken already

St.Phransus said...

i love it. and maybe you should just pretend to be a closet angry fundy, just for kicks and giggles.


daniel greeson said...

i <3 anabaptists.

Tony said...

If we close the doors to sinners, we may as well lock them and throw away the key,'cause the Church is going to be empty Sunday morning.

And that includes Gates' church.