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Hospitality And The Christian

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Christians and Hospitality

Table of Contents
    Tea cups on inviting tray with bouquet Why Hospitality Matters to Christians and some easy ideas to get started

    Hospitality is an aspect of the Christian faith that is often attributed as a spiritual gift; however, it is not listed in the “gifting” sections as such. Instead, it is often listed with general instructions to all believers.

    I do believe that, as Christ-followers, we each are all called to some level of hospitality. We are told that part of the fruit of the spirit is kindness.

    Hospitality is something that some don’t feel equipped or called to. Some, that are ‘spiritually gifted in this area’, are naturally gifted under the gift of service or mercy. For others it takes some work. God tells us to ‘practice’ hospitality.

    “Knowing your personality and your sensitivities does not excuse you from ministry. It means that you need to prepare for it differently than others might.”

    Rosaria Butterfield, The Gospel Comes With a House Key

    Why Does Hospitality Matter?

    To put it simply: the Bible mandates hospitality. We are all called to show hospitality to the body of Christ, and even strangers. 

    Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it .

    Hebrews 13:1-2 [NASB95]

    [Let] love [be] without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. [Be] devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

    Romans 12:9-13 [NASB95]

    Be hospitable to one another without complaint.

    1 Peter 4:9 [NASB95]

    God desires to work supernaturally through normal people who are willing to follow Him wholeheartedly and reflect His glory.

    Sally Clarkson

    “Radically ordinary and daily hospitality is the basic building block for vital Christian living. Start anywhere. But do start.”

    Rosaria Butterfield, The Gospel Comes With a House Key

    What IS Hospitality

    What is the true meaning of hospitality?

    At its simplest, hospitality is filling needs and building relationships. Making people feel welcome and comfortable as a means of discipleship (mentoring). Simply showing kindness. 

    Opening our homes and lives to others. Building relationships that strengthen a walk with Christ, or introduce a person to Christ. 

    Hospitality is defined as:

    The act or practice of one who is hospitable; reception and entertainment of strangers or guests without reward, or with liberality and kindness.

    The Greek word for hospitality in Romans 12 and Hebrews 13 is philoxenia, which translates literally to “love to strangers”

    In 1 Peter 4:9 the word is very similar, philoxenos, and translates to “generous to guests”.

    For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

    Galatians 5:13 [NASB95]

    It doesn’t take a five-course dinner on your best china. It can be frozen pizza on paper plates. It’s not elaborate dinner parties that build the strongest bonds, but simply opening our hearts and doors (or yard even, if you have read The Turquoise Table). 

    The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.

    Proverbs 11:25 [NASB95]

    “Hospitality is about place-making. Creating a welcome place for others to gather and belong. Hospitality begins in the heart. My favorite part of place-making is soul care. After all, a calm home and a restless soul is not a good match! ”

    The Turquoise Table by Kristin Schell

    “When offering hospitality, we do not offer our riches; we offer the love and joy of Christ. Too easily, we fall into the false understanding that hospitality consists of food and entertainment alone.”

    Emmalee Stanton

    What Hospitality Is Not

    It is not about your keen eye for table setting, or your culinary skills, but rather your heart and availability to your guests.

    Hospitality is not about the spotless home but focusing on the one that walks through the door of your home.

    Anna McMullen

    In his book, A Meal With Jesus, Tim Chester says:

    The focus of entertaining is impressing others; the focus of true hospitality is serving others.

    Tim Chester

    Jana DeVries Notes:

    “Martha’s problem was not that she was serving. It was not even that she was serving an elaborate meal. It was that she was so distracted with her everything-must-be-perfect preparations that she had no time to simply enjoy being present with her guests.”

    The deep-seated worrying, the excuses, and the overthinking of a simple invitation should be warning signs, telling us we’re confusing social entertaining with hospitality. When we use our lives exactly as they are, desiring only to create a sacred space for our guests, mixing it with the countercultural truth of loving Jesus and loving others, we turn entertaining upside down, and it becomes radical hospitality.”

    Jen Schmidt, Just Open the Door: How One Invitation Can Change a Generation

    Do Some Planning

    Prayerfully set some hospitality goals and brain dump ideas.

    Creating a lifegiving table is an intentional act of gathering, blessing, eating, sharing, and serving.

    Sally Clarkson The Life Giving Table

    Some Things to Consider:

    Consider how often you wish to host (once a week, once a month, etc), the people that you would like to invite over (keep a list to cycle though), questions that you can ask your guests to get to know them better.

    Make a list of quick and easy recipes that you could pull from for having people over. Do be sure to ask about any allergens when you invite people over.

    Have you built in enough margin in your schedule to allow hospitality? 

    Might I offer you a word of encouragement I hope will dowse the hot flames of frustration that surround your attempts at hosting? Unless Victorian-era aristocracy has suddenly made a comeback in your neighborhood, you might be making hospitality harder than it needs to be. In chaining yourself to a lengthy list of to-dos, you may inadvertently lose sight of the whole point of hospitality: to welcome the stranger. Don’t make the experience about you, make it about them. Remember, Leviticus 19:34 kind of hospitality leads with ’āhaḇ love. It chooses service over performance, present over perfect.

    Jamie Erickson, Holy Hygge

    What Does Hospitality Look Like?

    Cultivating a heart for hospitality begins with a mental grid of seeing those in your home as a divine appointment from God.

    Sally Clarkson

    As wives and mothers, we can be hospitable to our families. This might look like:

    • Cooking healthy meals.
    • Maybe bring in flowers and a beeswax candle to the table for dinner.
    • Fixing favorite foods for your family.
    • Playing with your children. 
    • Looking for needs that are not yet met. 
    • Watching a favorite movie with a family member.
    • Preparing as much as possible ahead of time for each day.
    • Make a blanket fort with your kids.
    • Plan an evening to watch the stars together as a family
    • Have a family game night.
    • Be intentional about the conversation around the dinner table.

    Even the way we set the tone for our homes is a part of our hospitality towards our families.

    Your family is your closest neighbor, so love them well and do so for the glory of God.

    Emmalee Stanton

    As a friend we can invite a friend (or two or three) over for tea. You can invite a family from church over to dinner after service one Sunday. 

    We can invite friends, neighbors, or the new family at church over for dinner, board games, or a movie. 

    Or, as Kristin Schell has done (and written about), set up a picnic table and paint it a bright color and make a point to sit there and say ‘hi’ to neighbors that come by. There is no pressure for a picture-perfect home if you make a pitcher of lemonade and take some cups out to your front yard. 

    Some Practical Ideas For Hospitality

    Here are some fairly easy, fun ways to show hospitality:

    • Fill a tote with water balloons and invite your neighbors and their families over to ‘fight’.
    • Get a bunch of hotdogs to grill and invite people over.
    • Bake cookies for neighbors.
    • Invite that new family from church over to Sunday dinner one Sunday. 
    • Break out some card or board games and call up a friend or neighbor (or that new family from church).
    • Invite a mom of littles (and her littles) over for tea and cakes or pizza lunch.
    • Keep stuff to make easy meals on hand for spur of the moment invites.
    • Offer to help out a new mom by doing some housework for her.
    • Have a friend over for dessert (ice cream and sauces are super easy).
    • Meet with some friends or a group of moms at a local park. Pack a snacky picnic.
    • Host a potluck. You may even be able to turn this into a ministry at church.
    • Make a cooler for delivery drivers/the mail carrier with some healthy snack and bottles of water (unless you happen to know their favorite beverage)
    • Set up a slip’n’slide and invite some families over.
    • Set up some horse-shoe or corn-hole (or ladder golf) games and invite neighbors by.
    • Have a hot cocoa night.
    • Have a backyard fire and make s’mores with neighbors.
    • Bake cookies for new families that visit church.
    • Host a paint night.
    • Invite women over to share a skill that you have (flower arranging? Sourdough making?)
    • Host a craft night for ladies to bring their current projects to work on.

    Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

    Be sure to not be afraid to reach out to people who come from different backgrounds.

    While inviting someone with a different world-view may require you to talk to your children ahead of time about some things, don’t be afraid to reach out of your comfort zone to bring people in to begin building a relationship with to share the gospel.

    “Radically ordinary hospitality characterizes those who don’t fuss over different worldviews represented at the dinner table. The truly hospitable aren’t embarrassed to keep friendships with people who are different.”

    Rosaria Butterfield, The Gospel Comes With a House Key

    “We live in a world where people profile and label each other, size each other up. What if we shifted our focus to our similarities? To welcoming one another, listening to stories, learning from one another? It’s time to change the conversation. I believe most social ills can be healed or prevented by the simple act of talking to one another, face-to-face, at a common table.”

    Kristin Schell, The Turquoise Table

    Some More Quotes About Hospitality

    Hospitality is purposefully pouring yourself into others who may or may not have anything to offer in return.

    Kim Mast

    Showing hospitality is not about showcasing that you are the perfect host, it’s about showing grace and love to the one whom you’ve extended an invitation. It’s about meeting a need that they have. As women of God*, we are to take an interest in the needs of those amongst us.

    Shovorne Adams

    *I would say people of God as the command to be hospitable is not directed to either gender specifically.

    Hospitality always feels small when you hold it in your hands. It’s not until you let it go, released like an offering, that you see how extravagant and hallowed it is.

    Kristin Schell, The Turquoise Table

    God knows your company’s needs, He knows your means, and He is capable of using your five loaves and two fish.

    Emmalee Stanton

    The world could use more ordinary Christians opening their ordinary lives so others can see what life in light of the gospel looks like.

     Dustin Willis, The Simplest Way to Change the World

    Let’s use our homes to be micro representations of that final banquet table—places where believers gather around the food and drink God has graciously provided, celebrating that God has brought us to Himself and opened that sacred space to all who are far from Him. Let’s become relentlessly warm and welcoming because we’ve been relentlessly welcomed in Christ. 

    Dustin Willis, The Simplest Way to Change the World

    In Conclusion

    What are some of your favorite ways to show hospitality? Is it something that you have been gifted with, or do you have to work at it?

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