Creating Your Own Space for Gospel Hospitality

Recently, our church (Redeemer Presbyterian Church) embarked on a hugely ambitious capital campaign to purchase the first of several ministry center facilities in Manhattan, one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world. Why are we doing this?

It has become increasingly clear that this effort represents good stewardship. Hospitals and colleges in major cities have learned that it is considerably less expensive to conduct programs in owned facilities than in rented ones. For long-term stability and financial stewardship, we should acquire our own facilities.

Ultimately, however, the most exciting reason for purchasing a building has little to do with money. The most important reason for seeking to secure space in the city is gospel hospitality.

HOSPITALITY AND THIRD PLACES

In modern English, the word “hospitality” conveys little more than the word “entertaining” does, but in the Bible it is something important and radical (Romans 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9; Hebrews 13:2; 1 Timothy 3:2; and Titus 1:8). Contemporary Western culture leads us to think of the home as a private enclosure, only to be shared with a few intimates. The New Testament, on the other hand, calls Christians to see their homes as neither strictly private nor public space— but as places where we routinely share our homes’ safety and comfort as spaces to nurture others.

Hospitality incorporates newcomers into common, daily household activities—eating a meal, sharing a cup of coffee, or painting a room. The Greek word for hospitality—philoxenia—literally means the “love of strangers.” Christians are called to an attitude of welcome, not only toward other believers but also toward those who are currently outsiders to the faith.

In most of the neighborhoods where we are seeking property, young single professionals live in extremely tiny spaces. They would be glad for an urban space that welcomes them without trying to sell them something, and that could perhaps provide them with quiet space, a free wireless network, a place to meet others, food, and drink, as well as offering space for family activities and cultural events. We want to say to our neighbors, “This is not just our place; it is also your place.” In a location as suspicious and tough as Manhattan that message will probably take some time to get through – but that is the message.

>>Download the entire article by Tim Keller here as he unpacks the importance of Gospel Hospitality.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Keller

Timothy Keller is the founder and senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Reason for God and The Prodigal God. He has also mentored young urban church planters and pastors in New York City and other cities through Redeemer City to City, which has helped launch over 200 churches in 35 global cites to date.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 
Thank you for this article! I'm the pastor of a small church. My gifting is in teaching and we are known for aiding Christians in becoming Biblically literate. Visitor's often comment on God's presence being very real in our services. But we just don't seem to be growing. I have some soul-searching, etc. to do and this article provides some solid ground from which to proceed. Thank you again.
 
— Jonathan Schultheis
 

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