Patrick Keifert in this book, Welcoming the Stranger, has some insightful things to say concerning the connection between worship and evangelism, but unfortunately managed to make the task of discovering them tedious. Following are some nuggets of wisdom picked out from the rough of the text.
The churches greatest opportunity for evangelism on a weekly basis happens during gatherings of corporate worship. Precisely because this worship gathering tends to be the most public of its gatherings it is the time most non-believers participate with the church. Keifert tries to identify the hurdles that "strangers" in our midst typically need to jump feel welcomed and as a result brought into the presence of God. Removing these hurdles goes beyond a firm handshake and a warm hello.
Keifert sees a recovery of ritual as the way to bridge the evangelism and worship chasm in our weekly worship. Rituals bring church members and strangers to equal footing, thus creating truly public space. Space that is intimate, but which allows for appropriate and common expression of worship.
This book helped me better appreciate ritual and liturgy, especially for their value of creating public space in which a stranger can feel welcome. Must of all, I was reminded that as we welcome the stranger in our midst we are not the true hosts, God is. Therefore, we are all guests in the presence of the Lord and all invited to receive his abundance and love.
"Welcoming the Stranger," by Patrick Keifert is a wonderful book. Keifert attempts to show that liturgical worship and effective evangelism can be put together. In fact, Keifert maintains that these two areas of ministry actually complement and enhance one another.
The manner in which liturgical worship and effective evangelism are blended, according to Keifert, is through a unique understanding of offering hospitality to the stranger. Worship is not a private matter and the church needs to reserve a place for the stranger, especially in worship. The reason is twofold: first, "God is the host of public worship, whose presence is often revealed in and through the stranger. Second, God who is present in worship is essentially a gracious God who gives to the stranger" (1992:58). Keifert biblically argues for the practice of evangelistic hospitality in the modern liturgical congregations.