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Stewardship and Hospitality

A small metal sign hangs above the door of the Copper Kettle Restaurant in Economy, Indiana, that reads: "Our success means serving you to your satisfaction." The entire staff of the Copper Kettle lives by that adage. You leave fed, filled, and fond of the little roadside eatery.

Molly, the "head cook," smiles and says, "Everything good in my life comes together here: I have the gift of cooking, the perfect location, and a steady stream of hungry people. If that isn't a recipe for a successful restaurant, then I don't know what is."

I came away from the Copper Kettle with one forceful thought: What is true for Molly is true for The United Methodist Church. We have the gospel (the good food); we have thousands of prime locations throughout the country; and we have a steady stream of spiritually hungering people. But there is one more element.

What makes the Copper Kettle a smash success is the hospitality that pervades every aspect of the atmosphere of the restaurant. From the moment you enter the door, you have no doubt that you are important and that your comfort and satisfaction are the primary concerns of the entire staff.

Stewardship means to manage wisely and well what God has placed in our care. Hospitality is one important way that we choose to manage what God gives us. What changes might our churches experience if our measure of success were the quality of service we provided to meet (and exceed) the needs of the people who enter our doors? How might we improve our hospitality in worship, Sunday school, fellowship events, and ministries to the community?

Good "food," location, and "customer traffic" are not enough. To be good stewards of our churches, we need to "go the extra mile," extending ourselves in a radical hospitality that communicates to one and all that we are here to serve, not to be served.

Dan R. Dick is a former staff member of the Discipleship Ministries. This article appeared in the August 1996 issue of Discipleship Dateline, and a portion of it appeared in the January 1997 issue of Interpreter magazine (published by United Methodist Communications).

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