Practice Hospitality

Creating Space: Christ and Hospitality

Creating space for others—it’s what I think of when I focus on hospitality. And as mothers, we know a thing or two about creating space for other people. I would imagine a few of you have some little person invading your space even as you read this.

A long, wooden table filled a spread worthy of Pinterest with fresh bread, decorations for the season, chicken spiced and cooked well, and vegetables straight from the garden—this is what I believe our culture wants us to think of hospitality.

Oftentimes, we get caught up in the external features of hospitality and forget the internal characteristics of what it means to be hospitable people. However, as we look at Scripture and the example Christ set for us, we find a hospitality focusing much more on the relationship between the guest and the host rather than the presentation.

Christ welcomed the least of these.

Simple Hospitality

Bill and Betty were a sweet couple in our church. Several years ago, Betty and I were involved in a mentoring group where she was my mentor.

Our times together were encouraging. Yet they were nothing elaborate. Betty just simply invited me into her home for conversation each week. We shared coffee and some of Bill’s fabulous desserts. He was quite the cook!

Just a few years ago, they both went to be with the Lord just 1 day apart. When I heard of their deaths, I was sad; however, God reminded me of their gracious hospitality and encouragement when I needed it the most.

He also reminded me that I need to find someone to whom I can show hospitality. I have such a great example of what that looks like, so I have no excuse. Will you join me in showing hospitality to someone today?

Real-Life Relationships and Hospitality

I’ve been “taken in” by friends a few times in my life. This has ranged from moving into a friend’s basement for 2 weeks between gaps in apartment leases to my campus minister allowing me to be in her home regularly. In each extreme, I was able to better observe what “real life” in my friends’ lives looked like. My campus minister walked through the single, dating, and engaged phases in a 3-year span in my life. I learned more about how to conduct myself in each of those stages because of my time with her. My friend who lent out her basement also opened her home. I was engaged at the time and got a glimpse of what life as a wife, mother, and full-time employee looked like. In each situation, I was inspired to walk into the next phase of my life with more grace and understanding than when I started.

Hospitality on Mission

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Heb. 13:2).

Hospitality is often thought of as an event usually in someone’s home where people are entertained. However, hospitality goes so much deeper than that. Hospitality is an attitude of welcome. It does not matter what kind of home you own or how good a cook you are. It just means you welcome others with open arms.

How can you use hospitality in a missional way? It’s quite easy, actually. It’s as simple as inviting unsaved friends, family, or neighbors into your home. When people feel welcomed, they are more open to hearing about the gospel.

Provide them with a meal and conversation where you learn more about them and their needs. As you learn more about them, you can begin to share the gospel and relate it to their current situation in life.

Lessons from around Dinner Tables

I’m usually confused when I see hospitality listed as one of the spiritual gifts. The others seem more tied to spirituality and ministry. The gifts of discernment, encouragement, and leadership are so obviously linked with the Holy Spirit and the daily Christian walk that the gift of hospitality, for me, seems only distantly related.

The idea of outstanding hospitality in our global culture is so foreign that I have stopped expecting it from others and even stopped focusing on it myself. It was only on a short trip to Ireland that I learned hospitality means something more than simply maintaining a house.

Over the course of a week while studying abroad, 2 friends and I took a road trip through the Irish countryside and then ended up in Dublin for a few days. Overall, the Irish people were welcoming and kind enough, but we were not expecting the hospitality we received.

Space for Opportunities

When you think about hospitality, are you like me and feel a little challenged? We can find some encouragement in the fact that the Bible teaches us to “practice hospitality” (Rom. 12:13). It gives us the idea that we don’t have to be perfect. We are practicing!

I was reminded of this recently, as we had a beautiful Hispanic family over for a meal. The parents have been believers for about 8 years. They radiate God’s goodness and are seeking to know His will in their lives and what mission God has for them. It was a simple slow cooker meal with water and chocolate chip cookies. And a candle. And smiles. And laughter. And checkers. And music. And a bottle for the baby. And sharing. And God. We were all tired after a long day, but we were better together. What a blessing. I am still enjoying the renewing warmth of just being the family of God.

Engaging New Members

Being the new person is not always easy, especially if you are prone to shyness. So it’s important that we as church members or members of a missions group be intentional in making new people feel welcome. How do you engage guests or new members in your church or missions group with hospitality?

Here are a few ways you can practice hospitality with them:

  • Smile—Greet guests and new members with a friendly smile. Let them know how glad you are to meet them.
  • Remember—Ask their name and find ways to remember it. When you see them again, you’ll be able to call them by name.
  • Connect—Find a point of connection. Maybe you both enjoy the same hobbies or share similar tastes in food.
  • Encourage—Offer a word of encouragement and let them know they are welcome in your church or group at any time.

Hospitality Brings Jesus’ Love to Neighbors

Each day, the population of Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, increases significantly. Phoenix grows by about 300 daily, or about 100,000 annually.

With only 1 Southern Baptist church for every 18,500 people, it is an ever-present challenge to get the message of Jesus Christ’s love to newcomers and the 5.49 million people already living in the metro area, said Monty Patton, a Send City missionary and founder and co-pastor of Mountain Ridge Church in Glendale, located northwest of Phoenix.

Patton works with sending churches and their church planters to establish ministries in Phoenix and Tucson. He; his wife, Nancy; their 2 daughters; and their son-in-law are all devoted to area church-planting efforts.

They have found that building relationships is essential in proclaiming Jesus Christ to the burgeoning masses—1 person at a time.

Simple Gestures Open Doors to Gospel

Mandy Wells prepares “memelas” (small tortillas brushed with bacon grease) with some national friends in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Sharing a meal or inviting someone into your home for coffee or water shows hospitality in this city of about 300,000. Though simple gestures, they create opportunities to establish friendships with indigenous people and share about Jesus Christ.

Wells and husband Jim are missionaries in an area of Oaxaca (pronounced wah-hah-cah). The couple and their 2 young children have been there 16 months.

“One thing that we really try to do is build friendships,” Mandy Wells said. “Whether people come to Christ or not after having heard the gospel, we will still be their friends and continue investing in their lives. . . . Simply spending time really getting to know people opens the doors for us to share the gospel with those around us.”

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