Stone Mountain, Georgia
To embrace diverse practices from around the world that give worshipers experiences of acting as host and as guest, in order to strengthen and broaden their understanding of biblical, cross-cultural, transcultural, and reciprocal hospitality.
Provide a brief summary of the purpose and goal of your grant.
To research cultural hospitality practiced in diverse congregations to find answers to these questions. 1) What is the transcultural elements of hospitality in Christian worship that is connected to the nature of God? 2) What are the cultural specific ways the hospitality is practiced in different cultures and what is the role of the host and the guest? 3) What moves cultural hospitality to hostility? What moves cultural hospitality to the radical hospitality? The goal was to increase understanding of the practice of hospitality in Christian worship, to learn cultural practices of hospitality to become a better host and the guest, and to apply elements that moves congregation toward a radical hospitality.
What questions have you asked about worship in the past year?
1) How can Christians from different culture deepen the understanding of cultural hospitality and be able to establish reciprocal relationship when the cultural practices are extremely different?
2) What is the tipping point that changes cultural hospitality to hostility? What triggers the fear? Is that fear real or perceived fear?
3) What is the tipping point that changes cultural hospitality to the radical hospitality? How do people overcome fear and utilizes the resources if they face limited resources in welcome the strangers?
4) What does radical hospitality look like in modern congregation? How does that look different in cultures?
In what ways has your project engaged your congregation so that it impacts the worship life and habits of the congregation?
Throughout several worship gatherings facilitated by different hosts representing diverse cultures, the guests were able to gain valuable cultural awareness and the biblical knowledges related to the hospitality of God. Also people were able to realize vast differences in the practice of hospitality in different cultures. Centering and focusing in each culture gave participants micros-coping view on the deeply held values of each culture. Congregations definitely gained a deeper understand, awareness and practical tools to be a cultural appropriate guests and the hosts.
What criteria have you used to evaluate your plan to foster vital worship?
Every host of different culture was committed follower of Jesus and also fully aware the beauty of their own cultural practices of hospitality. I was selective on who becomes the host so we won't tolerate biblical truth and also cultural flexibility and openness. We didn't control the host in terms of making important decisions regarding how the gathering should look like and what needs to happen. It was totally up to the host to feel empowered and responsible. We also observed and asked for feedback on the guests after the events. I also reached out to each host for follow up questions and feedback to obtain additional information and what they've learned.
What issues have been your greatest challenges (or challenging opportunities)?
Since every gathering involved sharing the meal together, of course hosting in the middle of Pandemic was alway challenging and creating tensions. Especially the hosts coming from honor shame culture could damage their reputations if Covid broke out in one of our gatherings because the role of the host was to protect the guest and seek their wellbeing at all costs. Thankfully nothing happened while we ran five different events. Working with the hosts from different cultural groups was also challenging since some were more time oriented and early planning was the key value compared to others who were more event oriented and spontaneous until the last minute.
What would you like to share with other Project Directors?
It was risky to work with hosts whom I handed great deal of power and leadership but in the end, we were able to learn so much by letting go of the control and power and simply be their guests. Also it was important that we documented with the film since some of the hosts operates in oral culture. By filming the entire process, we can turn this recordings into the valuable resources in the future such as document, documentary, visual learning tool, podcast, blog, etc. It was a great learning experience for me and our community and intentionally creating hospitable worship gatherings for people in our community definitely contributed positive influence in our community.