How We Can Make Reformed Churches More Welcoming

Hospitality is vital to the life of the church. How we treat someone, whether they’re a visitor or longtime member, may affect their involvement within a church. It may also impact their decision to continue attending a church. Most of us have visited a church at some point in time. For me, especially when looking for a church while a seminary student, I asked myself three things:
1. Did I hear the gospel?
2. Did the church lead a God-centered worship service?
3. Did anyone greet or speak to me after the service?
While the first two points are usually out of our control, we can control the third one when someone visits our church.
We are called to display sincere love and affection when we greet each other.
On different occasions, Scripture tells us to greet each other with a holy kiss (Rom. 16:16, 1 Cor. 16:20, 2 Cor. 13:12, 1 Thess. 5:26, and 1 Peter 5:14). First century, Greco-Roman cultural norms are obviously very different from our twenty-first century, American cultural norms. We are not necessarily called to kiss each other when a handshake is a sufficient greeting, but there is an intimacy involved in the greeting we are told to give within the church. We are called to display sincere love and affection when we greet each other. This greeting reaches a deeper level, such as asking how we might pray for one another or rejoice and weep with someone.

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Matt Mullininx | “The Vital Connection between Sincere Love and Hospitality in the Church” | June 3, 2023


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  1. Why are evangelical churches pentecostal churches *usually* better at this than we are?

    My main issue with this phenomenon is that if we are supposedly the churches that speak of the moral law more and better, than why is it we often dont?

    I not really asking to engage with the wisdom in the post. Im asking the why-does-this-happen-so-often-in -reformed-churches question?

  2. John,

    This is a great question about which I’ve been thinking since 1987, when I began in pastoral ministry. The answer is multifaceted:

    Part of the answer lies in

    1. the cultural differences between evangelical and Reformed churches. I tried to explain that briefly here and here.
    2. a reaction by some newly Reformed folk to their evangelical background
    3. the strongly doctrinal character in some Reformed congregations attracts people who are less oriented to people and relationships and more to doctrines and ideas
    4. the sins of selfishness and/or clannishness: some of our churches have strong ethnic backgrounds (e.g., Scots, Dutch, German) where there is a cultural tradition of building relationships in families or where congregations are dominated by clans/families, which can create barriers to newcomers. In some cases, the clannishness developed for understandable reasons (social isolation, tensions with the new culture etc) but where it’s been made a virtue, contra Gal 3:28 then it becomes sin.

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