"Matters of Opinion" is an occasional department that allows discussion of perspectives not necessarily shared by Christianity Today or the evangelical community as a whole. It is intended to encourage dialogue, and we welcome readers' responses.& amp;mdash;The EditorsThere was a time when you couldn't walk through the door of an evangelical church without being approached by four or five well-meaning believers who wanted to make you feel at home. Kill them with kindness was the operating phrase. Not only did Christians welcome strangers to worship, but churches had well-oiled visitation programs assuring that newcomers would receive friendly followup visits in their homes.Today Americans are much more reluctant to approach strangers. Fear of violence, the influence of the media, and the use of electronic communication devices have isolated people from those outside their circle of comfort. For Christians, a lack of hospitality toward strangers has crept into churches, where many believers feel safer ignoring those they don't know.Hospitality is an unglamorous subject that doesn't get much attention from the pulpit. The command from the writer of Hebrews to "show hospitality to strangers" (13:2) contradicts a protective society's warning to children to not talk to strangers. Yet in Romans 12:10-13, Paul puts "practicing hospitality" on a par with being "devoted to prayer" and "serving the Lord."When I moved to Florida in 1978 to work in Christian radio, a welcoming spirit was evident at the churches I visited there: the Nazarene church where a tall, twenty-something red-haired man would not let me leave without finding out everything about me; the Assembly of God church where a woman invited me to dinner with her family; ...1
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