While the goal of the church should be going into the world and living out the Gospel, there are other circumstances when a church can stay at home base and do just as much good for the community: providing hospitality.
When done well, hospitality is a humbling experience. It involves letting go of one’s possessions and accepting the other without conditions or limits (except in the case of someone who is violent and so forth). A congregation with a building can extend hospitality to the community and still remain actively engaged in a missionary activity.
The key is letting the others use the space on their terms. We can’t attach little requirements such as, “You can use it, but you have to stay for a ten minute testimony,” or “You need to read this tract before we let you in.” No strings attached: that is so vitally important.
Many communities lack cheap or free space for programs and projects–especially for the poor. Everyone has to pay the bills and everyone is looking for new ways to make an extra buck, so why give away space so that the poor can have art lessons, dance classes, or any other enriching activity? Never mind that the arts are the first thing cut in a school budget, these companies are looking at the bottom line.
This is the place where the church can step in and put many of our buildings to good use. A partnership between a church and a nonprofit organization in need of space is a tremendous way to connect with the community and to bring about the justice that should be found in God’s Kingdom.