Discussion Starter: Hospitality
As debates over mosque construction plans continue to make headlines, churches are asking how to reach out as new religions come to town. Heartsong Church in Tennessee and Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Virginia have hosted Muslim worship communities in their church buildings, prompting the question of how much hospitality is too much.
"The community is our parish; letting faith provoke us into creating a more just, peaceful community is another form of worship. I believe concerns about sacred-profane worship space are always in submission to Jesus' command to welcome the stranger and love our enemies."
Jason Micheli, pastor, Aldersgate United Methodist Church
"The church is a people, not a building. No place in the teaching of Jesus or the New Testament refers to the church as a place. The church is the faithful who spend life with Jesus together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. There is no space that is more sacred than any other on earth in itself."
Steve Stone, pastor, Heartsong Church
"Evangelicals are notoriously vague about what constitutes our sacred spaces. Whatever a congregation actually decides to do, the very question can be an important teaching moment. What does it mean to set apart a specific space for the worship of the true God?"
Richard Mouw, president, Fuller Theological Seminary
"While we desire to reach out at a personal level with love, it's not wise to ignore the spiritual realm. Before you do, stop, think, pray, and seek the Lord's discernment, because there are spiritual forces in these divergent theologies aligned against the very truth we preach."
Mark DeYmaz, directional leader, Mosaic Church
"Other faiths have used our church's coffeehouse for casual meetings, as that is public missional space. But we don't rent our space for formal meetings of other faiths in our sanctuary."
Dan Kimball, pastor, Vintage Faith Church
"Christians need to be stalwart advocates for religious freedom while not succumbing to the temptation of religious pluralism. People should be free to worship according to their convictions, but it's necessary to recognize that Christianity is not the same as other world religions."
Ed Stetzer, president, LifeWay Research
Copyright © 2011 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
Scholar Jason Hood wrote as piece on this topic called "Muslims in Evangelical Churches" for CT's website in January with a response from pastor Steve Stone.
Earlier articles on Islam include:
The Son and the Crescent | Bible translations that avoid the phrase "Son of God" are bearing dramatic fruit among Muslims. But that translation has some missionaries and scholars dismayed. (February 4, 2011)
From Informant to Informer | The "son of Hamas" senses God in his life before coming to Christ. (June 8, 2010)
Bloggers Target Seminary President | Liberty's Ergun Caner accused of false statements in his testimony about converting from Islam. (May 3, 2010)
Previous topics for discussion included whether Christians are stingy, Christians should resist the TSA, Christians should ban Christmas carols with questionable theology, when life begins, whether Christians should denounce believers who vilify others, Christians must pray in public forums using Jesus' name, whether they have a responsibility to have children, whether churches should increase their 2011 operating budgets, a Protestant-less Supreme Court, Mother's Day worship, incorporating churches, whether evangelicals are doing a good job at racial integration, whether Christians should leave the American Medical Association, the most significant change in Christianity over the past decade, whether the Supreme Court should rule that memorial crosses are secular, multisite campuses vs. church plants, and whether Christians should fast during Ramadan with Muslims.
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