THANK YOU, CENTRAL COMMUNITY CHURCH!

In a word, wow. Sure, the speakers and worship leaders were excellent. No doubt, those who led conferences were of the highest caliber. Certainly, the fellowship among pastors and laypeople across the country in one place was refreshing. And, while some enjoyed one facet of the convention more than another, there’s one thing about Church of God Convention 2017 everyone can agree on: the volunteers of Central Community Church were second-to-none. What the congregation has aptly dubbed “a culture of hospitality” is making waves far beyond the Church of God Convention.

Every time you entered the atrium at Central Community Church in Wichita, Kansas, they were there. Before you even got out of your car, they were there. You may not have parked far from the front door, but they were ready to give you a lift on their golf cart! Whether exhibited in a warm smile, a friendly handshake, or a plate of sample scones, the love of the Central Community volunteers was overwhelming. We may never know the full scope of the effort the Wichita congregation put into hosting the Church of God this year, but we know it went far above and beyond handing out flyers at the entrance to the sanctuary. What’s especially amazing is their heart for the work.

Actually, for these volunteers, it hardly felt like work. Their gracious spirits were eager to welcome the movement to their community. Perhaps one volunteer demonstrated this humble attitude best: “I’m having the greatest time of my life, really,” Gayle Roose explained. “This is great, meeting so many people. Everybody’s just so friendly!” And here we thought we were the ones being blessed!

This culture of hospitality has truly become part of the DNA of Central Community Church. It’s so important, in fact, that an article was published in their recent church newsletter about the philosophy behind it. As the article states, 175 people showed up to the church for a hospitality training experience led by Chick-Fil-A owner/operator, Jason Lansdown. “After a brief meditation by Pastor Bob on the importance of being the best hosts we can be for Christ on Easter,” the article explains, “Jason shared with us some major thoughts to help us in this endeavor from his Chick-Fil-A experience.”

They’re serious about it. Pastor Bob Beckler tells Church of God Ministries, “Hospitality demonstrates love and love is what makes us look like Jesus! When you look like Jesus, people want to come in—and come back!”

It would be hard to pinpoint how many pastors and lay leaders returned to their home churches after Church of God Convention 2017, asking how their church can be as welcoming as Central Community. Central Community Church, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

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