Monday, September 3, 2012
The Welcoming Congregation by Henry G. Brinton
I really appreciated this book right up until the chapter on Perceptions, which is the last chapter. And quite honestly, I think it should have been labeled, "Why you should be hospitable to everyone EXCEPT the conservatives in the church." I loved everything that Brinton had to say about hospitality in the first seven chapters of the book and think that it could have ended with those insights.
Brinton does a great job of offering practical insight as well as giving a framework of thought in regards to hospitality. He obviously spent a great deal of time researching what is going on in this field in the church and has seen the good and bad. For the most part he uses positive examples. I'm not sure why he felt compelled to spend the majority of a chapter discussing Rich Warren's theology, but it seemed to negate most of what he was hoping to show the reader when he states "If Rick (Warren) wants to make a strong connection between Saddlebacks's innovative hospitality practices and the actual words of the Bible, he needs to acknowledge that God's welcome has become increasingly inclusive over the long span of salvation history."
I took that statement to say that if I want to experience hospitality, then I have to change. That's not really hospitality at all.
I wish that I could go back and unread this last chapter, because like I said it was a great book right up to that point. And thus, I can only recommend the first seven chapters. In those chapters, you have the tools and encouragement to make hospitality a vital part of any church's ministry. It is those chapters that I highly recommend.
I received this book from Westminster John Knox for the purpose of review.