So often when the subject of hospitality comes up, people’s minds immediately go
towards the hosting of parties or dinners. The truth is coordinating gathering is a thin
slice of all that hospitality encompasses. Our inability to properly define hospitality
truncates our understanding of the Gospel and how we are to live it out in our daily
lives. This is just one of the reasons that we have a crisis of hospitality in the church,
and it spills over into our workplaces which will ultimately result in a “crisis” at work.
The recent statistics are frightening. Barna reports that sizeable portions of US adults
view evangelical Christians as narrow minded (21%), homophobic (17%), misogynistic,
and even racist (10%). Sadly, in some instances perception is reality, but what is even
more grievous is the high probability that these percentages are increasing, given the
deepening polarization and division that seems to define all people groups these days.
Whether it is political views or public health issues or racial conversations, all are often
being squelched by rudeness, and indifference towards one another, in other words a
lack of hospitality. No one flourishes under these circumstances. Furthermore, we can
not move forward, grow, or mature when we have lost our ability to engage one
another in crucial conversations.
Our podcast guest this week is The Reverend Rufus Smith. He is the senior pastor of
Hope Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee, the largest
Presbyterian congregation in the United States. Over the past 8 years, Hope has
transitioned from a predominantly Caucasian to a multi-ethnic church, with 30% of
members being people of color. This is no small accomplishment, but it is certainly
magnified since Hope is in the deep south. In 2016, he Founded the Memphis Christian
Pastor’s Network, an ethnically & denominationally diverse clergy network that
“bridges the trust-gap” between pastors.
The Lord has used Hope’s hospitable culture to attract and keep such a diverse
population. Rufus’ church is reaping the fruit of living and engaging in a manner that is
respectful, kind, and welcoming.
Join our conversation today as Case and I interview Rufus Smith on the importance of
hospitability to public theology, how we integrate our faith beyond the walls of the
As with all our podcast, we have created a spiritual formation exercise that corresponds
with this episode. We are striving to practically implement some of the ideas discussed.
We all need constant reminders that it is not enough to know something, but instead
need to challenge ourselves to integrate ideas into our individual lives.
We hope you enjoy this third installment of Nuance with Dr. Rufus Smith.