Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:9
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:13
As I continue to blog on drawing people into the life of the church (see the previous 2 posts), I wanted to specifically address hospitality. Inviting a new family or individual to your home for a meal can help you get to know each other in a more relaxed atmosphere. Genuine friendship and fellowship can develop and thrive through the practice of hospitality. But it seems hospitality has become a lost art. I think one reason is that people make it too hard or complicated – but it does not have to be!
My husband and I like to show both short term and long term hospitality. By short-term, I mean having someone over for dinner or dessert/coffee. And by long-term, I mean having someone live with you for weeks or months. Our experience with long term hospitality would need to be another post, but opportunities abound to welcome people into your home.
I don’t want to sound intimidating! It is true that some have a special gift of hospitality and can do it more often than others, but all Christians should at least be able to show hospitality on occasion. I think more people are capable of practicing hospitality than realize it, but have never tried because they envision it as too difficult.
In regards to short-term hospitality… you don’t have to be like Martha Stewart or have a home like in Better Homes & Gardens. When we invite people over for dinner, we keep it simple and practical. We eat off the regular, everyday dishes. (Actually these are the only dishes we own, as we don’t even have a set of fine china or a holiday set!) It is not necessary to have an expensive steak dinner or a complicated several course dinner. There are plenty of tasty recipes whose ingredients are reasonably priced and are simple to prepare.
There is nothing wrong with serving guests on fine china or having a fancy meal. I’ve enjoyed lovely times such as this while the guest of others. My point is that it is not necessary. It is okay to keep things simple.
We’ve had many people comment that they enjoy visiting our home precisely because of the casual, down-to-earth atmosphere.
And actually – if serving a meal seems like too much, start smaller! Invite someone over for dessert and coffee. We’ve done that too.
I appreciated this remark by John Piper:
If you are afraid of hospitality – that you don’t have much personal strength or personal wealth – good. Then you won’t intimidate anybody. You will depend all the more on God’s grace. You will look all the more to the work of Christ and not your own work. And what a blessing people will get in your simple home or little apartment.
Hospitality is not about fancy table settings or fancy homes, but about practicing servanthood and creating an atmosphere where people feel welcomed and at ease.
It is not about putting on a show, but about being yourself. And allowing other people to be themselves too.
As for long-term guests, I’ll admit that it is not for everyone! I’d say that one key to having long-term guests is to act like you don’t have a guest in your home! By that I mean, you’ve got to be humble and accept that this person is going to see the real you and your real life. From day one, you need to maintain your normal routines. If one day a week you stay in your pajamas all day, keep on with it. If you usually ignore the dishes for 2 or 3 days before washing them, keep on with it. Because…if you put on a show and do everything differently, it is going to get old fast! Real fast! You are going to be miserable and want your life back.
You may not be up to having repeated long-term guests like we have, but you could consider giving it a try just once.
You may not be up for having people over for dinner once a week, but you could try for once every couple months.
Are you seeking to show hospitality?
Final thoughts here on drawing people into the life of the church.