“Hospitality is the art of preparing a space for others so they feel comfortable and welcomed in that space.”
—Katherine Sasser, owner of Hurley House in Fort Worth
It’s no secret I am passionate about hospitality at FUMCFW. There is truly nothing I want more than for people to come back to our church because they felt comfortable and cared for here. Recently, I spent an evening at Hurley House, a purveyor of hospitality owned by Tim and Katherine Sasser, for dinner and an interactive presentation by Katherine on the art of hosting and engaging in the art of hospitality. The Sassers grew their business out of a passion for gathering people around their table and in their home — and a love of seeing the life-changing transformation that can occur in those sacred spaces that have been prepared for others so they will feel both comfortable and welcome. Katherine articulated so beautifully the essence of this kind of hospitality that I couldn’t wait to put some of her ideas into action at our church.
Soon after that evening at Hurley House, I sat in on a meeting in which Mark laid out the vision he had developed, based on input from his Children’s Council, for our Children’s Ministries team and our Sanctuary Worship team to work together to bring the children back into our 11:00 am traditional worship service each Sunday. Listening to Mark describe the special accommodations he was working on for children (kindergarten age and up) who will be attending our 11:00 am Traditional Worship service, it struck me that what Mark was essentially saying was: “We want to anticipate the needs of those who worship with us – from kindergartners to senior citizens – and put their comfort first and foremost. We want them to feel cared for, considered, engaged, and nurtured while they are in our sanctuary for worship together.” In other words, Mark was talking about another facet we can add to our hospitality.
When a seven-year-old is handed a backpack filled with specially designed objects and materials that help him or her participate more fully in that particular service, everyone will be able to relax and engage in their own worship experience instead of worrying that the children in our midst will have to “Sit still and be quiet” for an entire hour.
Going back to the idea of what it means to experience true hospitality, when is the last time you felt comfortable enough to put your guard down, relax in your surroundings, and enjoy and engage in what was taking place around you? It is in that moment — when you feel comfortable and cared for — that you can truly absorb beauty, tranquility, and a feeling of connectedness with those around you.
When you invite people into your home, if you’re like most of us, the first thing you probably think is, “How much time do I have this week to clean my house, shop, and cook? How many people can I comfortably host? What will I serve them? How can I put them at ease with one another?” There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. It’s simply an assessment that determines what you will do and how you will do it to anticipate, accommodate, and meet the needs of your guests to help them feel content and secure in your home.
As I see it, in very simple terms, that’s exactly what FUMCFW is going to do in our slightly retooled 11:00 am Traditional Worship service: we’re going to assess the needs of all ages who come to worship and make the accommodations that will help all of them feel comfortable and cared for in this sacred space.
Previously when we talked and thought about hospitality here at FUMCFW, we tended to think about all that happens before people are in worship — coming into the church, visiting the Welcome Center, and finding their way to their favorite Sunday morning activities. While all this is still extremely important, I am so excited to see that starting September 10 we’re going to takes our First Church Hospitality a step further by bringing some very special elements of hospitality into worship as well.