There’s a lot of collective wisdom wandering around this blog, I’ve noticed. Let’s put it to work on some questions about liturgical ministry. Feel free to email me if you have a ministry question you’d like to crowdsource.

Hospitality ministry is, I think, one of the most difficult tasks to define, let alone do well. It has no specific form or rubrics. It depends not only on cultural context but even on individuals’ personalities. Yet its purpose, to help integrate people into the social community of a parish, is indispensable for church life.

I confess, I’m an introvert. When this image appeared in my Facebook feed, I laughed. And it reminded me of my first visit to a Catholic mass. Being young and introverted, I was extremely self-conscious. Having spent some time within Southern evangelicalism, I was expecting a lot of greeting and questioning of the “what can we do to help you?” variety, which I normally interpreted (probably wrongly) as “what can we do to save your soul?” I was greatly relieved to discover that no one seemed to notice me. I could relate to Thomas Merton, whose book I read later: “What a revelation it was, to discover so many ordinary people in a place together, more conscious of God than of one another” (Seven Storey Mountain, 227).

Clearly, not noticing me is an effective way of welcoming me, but I suspect it doesn’t work for everybody. How do you practice hospitality while respecting differences? What other differences call for an unusual approach to hospitality?