I often ponder and study how the church can be a place of radical hospitality – a place that welcomes the stranger in unique ways. Today, I found two ideas that, if combined, could work as a sort of “reverse mission trip” for churches with large physical locations and for those, who like us, meet in multiple site of mission (i.e., houses, bars, coffee shops, etc.)
The first is Urbanauts.
Last year, three young Viennese architects — Theresia Kohlmayr, Jonathan Lutter, and Christian Knapp — decided to take the concept of “boutique hotels” literally when they seized on the idea of turning empty storefronts in the city’s 4th District into standalone guestrooms.
They’ve dubbed the project “Urbanauts,” they say because the geography of the “hotel” encourages visitors to get out and explore the neighborhood. “Our ‘breakfast room’ is a traditional cafe around the corner, our ‘spa’ is the Moroccan hammam two streets away,” says Kholmayr. “We’ve taken the hotel concept and made it horizontal, so the whole infrastructure of a four-star hotel is spread over the surrounding area.”
Awesome right? What a great concept to connect travelers with places in your city that are off the tourist’s map. They are also transforming empty storefronts that line every city into places of mission.
However, the question remains of how to find travelers who are looking for an experience outside of the traditional hotel stay and tourist destinations.
When you join CouchSurfing, you tap into our network of welcoming people worldwide. You can share your hospitality and experience your city through new eyes by offering travelers a place to stay on their journey. You can bypass the typical hotel experience by staying at the home of a local and learning about their culture. You can join cool and interesting people for anything from a bike ride to a party using CouchSurfing Activities. And you can meet up with new people, whether at home or while traveling, for inspiring experiences and new friendships.
The Couch Surfing web site is home for travelers from all over the world looking for a place to stay making this a cross-cultural mission trip without ever leaving home.
How would this work?
Churches with physical locations could dedicate rooms for hosting travelers. The “amenities” could be your favorite local coffee shop for breakfast, the spa is the one a church member owns, and the gym the place you work out. All is done with a guide who knows the city well and is capable of building relationships for the sake of the gospel.
If your church does not want to dedicate rooms for this purpose or does not have a physical building in which to do so, find owners of empty store fronts and rent them out. The cost could be covered by charging a modest fee for use of the space. This adds value to your city because the store front is no longer empty. The local economy is boosted because the travelers you are hosting are forced out of a self enclosed hotel.
And of course the gospel is not only demonstrated through hospitality, but is also proclaimed through the relationships being built.
So what are your thoughts?