Original Research

Building welcoming and inclusive congregations: Biblical hospitality as a theological paradigm

Timothy W. Shirley, Malan Nel, Esias E. Meyer
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 45, No 1 | a3015 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v45i1.3015 | © 2024 Timothy W. Shirley, Malan Nel, Esias E. Meyer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 October 2023 | Published: 04 April 2024

About the author(s)

Timothy W. Shirley, Department of Practical Theology and Mission, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Malan Nel, Department of Practical Theology and Mission, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Esias E. Meyer, Department of Old Testament and Hebrew Scriptures, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

This article addresses the question, ‘how can congregations that exhibit prejudice toward LGBTQQIA+ persons (different expressions of nonheterosexuality), overcome bias and discriminatory practices to become missionally holistic, hospitably welcoming, and inclusive of these individuals?’. The answer can be found in engaging an alternative biblical hermeneutic that emphasises the socio-historical context of a given narrative, thus creating a broader and deeper understanding of the principle of biblical hospitality as a fundamental theological premise inherent within the Judeo-Christian scriptures. Accomplishing transformative change demands intentionality by clergy equipped to engage the issues effectively. Pastoral ministers must cultivate the exegetical skills needed to guide local missional churches towards greater inclusivity, with the goal of creating more hospitably welcoming and inclusive faith communities.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article engages a dialogue between biblical and practical theology as missional praxis supporting congregational development as ecclesial reformational transformation to enable local churches to become hospitably welcoming and inclusive.


Keywords

biblical theology;congregational development;exegesis;hermeneutics;hospitality;inclusivity;LGBTQQIA+(lesbian,gay,bisexual,transgender,queer,questioning,intersex,asexual-aromantic/agender, plus);nonheterosexuality;progressivism;postmodernism

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

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