The Call to Hospitality
August 7-11, 2017
Hospitality—welcoming “God in the stranger”—is central to missional praxis. Welcoming tax collectors and sinners in table fellowship was also a distinctive and defining feature of Jesus’ own practice and Kingdom proclamation. And yet, churches struggle mightily with hospitality. Why do churches, ostensibly following a Messiah who broke bread with the stigmatized and ostracized, so often retreat into practices of exclusion, scapegoating and the quarantine of gated communities? Seeking the origins of this disjoint with the goal of calling our faith communities into the practices of hospitality, the class will begin by exploring the biblical and theological foundations of hospitality. Upon this foundation the varieties and expressions of hospitality will be surveyed. The numerous obstacles to hospitality (from the social to the psychological) will also be identified and explored. Finally, this analysis will culminate in the argument that the “will to embrace,” which undergirds the practices of hospitality, requires a suite of capacities (and/or virtues) that must be cultivated through intentional spiritual formation.
- Developing a biblical and theological foundation to support the practices of hospitality
- Developing a taxonomy that enumerates the diverse practices and expressions of hospitality, personally and ecclesially.
- Identification and explication of the obstacles of hospitality, including but not limited to theological/doctrinal, psychological, social, political, and ecclesial obstacles.
- Identification of the capacities/virtues that support the practices of hospitality, including but not limited to theological/doctrinal, psychological, social, political, and ecclesial capacities.
- Description of spiritual formation practices that personally and communally create and sustain the practices of hospitality.
Richard Beck, Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at Abilene Christian, is a blogger, speaker and the author of four books (Unclean, The Authenticity of Faith, The Slavery of Death, and Reviving Old Scratch). Richard has also published extensively in the research literature in the areas of mood disorders and psychology of religion. Richard leads a bible study each week for fifty inmates at the maximum security French-Robertson unit, and any given week Richard drives the van, preaches or washes dishes at Freedom Fellowship, a church feeding and reaching out to those on the margins.