It we are hoping to practice radical hospitality, which is a sure sign of our love for others – both Christians and non-Christians – we need to be aware of some things that help people connect.
Let’s look at a few of the key ones briefly in the next day or two.
1> Understand the power of language
There are some key words that we use that we need to remove immediately. These are what we refer to as speaking Christianese. The primary problem with using Christian “code words” is that most unchurched people have no idea what we are talking about. This makes new people feel like outsiders. If we’re to find common ground and eliminate barriers to relationships, exclusive language has to go.
In this area we need to look at acronyms, abbreviations, nicknames, pet names, long words, and doctrinal terms. Anything that ‘regular people wouldn’t understand needs to disappear for good. And, if you need to use a specific church, Bible, or liturgical word then it needs to be immediately defined and explained as soon as it is used. So, there are many words we need to choose to eliminate.
Another aspect of the power of language is to carefully choose which words we are going to use. We need to look at the words that we use and see if they are helpful in communicating what we are wanting to say. For example, people may be ‘guests’ and ‘strangers’ as they approach the assembly but once they walk through the doors for the second time they are our ‘friends.’ This communicates that we appreciate them and that we are all in this together.
When we communicate we must understand that it is not about sounding academic or profoundly knowledgeable. It is simply about doing your part to build a relationship.
2> Take time for ‘befriending’
There is great value in taking time to build relationships – even with those who have known each other for years. Discovering something new about another person never gets old. Building relationally means befriending people and taking the time to get to know them. Even asking probing questions so as to get to know them better. Befriending and showing we are interested in others will build rapport and trust within the relationship.
We need to be intentional. Relationships don’t just happen. Just because people are meeting in the same location doesn’t mean relationships are forming. Relationships take deliberate thought and leadership.
Don’t count on technology to do the work for you, either. Sociologist Sherry Turtle, author of “Alone Together,” worked in the forefront of technology before seeing the unintended consequences of the internet, social media, and cell phone communication.
In this high-tech world we live in, communication is constantly available to us through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more; so it is tempting to think we are more connected than ever. Tekkie states, “We expect more from technology and less from each other. [Technology is the] illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.”
Make personal relationship building a priority every time people come together. Genuine, fully engaged, face-to-face time is what really counts.