Practical Tips For Hospitality

Continuing in our theme of Hospitality we have compiled some practical tips that we utilize as we welcome guests into our homes. We hope you can find these ideas helpful as you extend Christ’s love via hospitality and find great joy in doing so!

Making Prep Easy

  • When you prepare your own supper just double it. Freeze the second meal for company or use to drop off with someone who is having a hard week.
  • Get kids involved – let them sweep, set the table, etc.
  • Spend a rainy day baking with your kids. Stock up on brownies, cookies, bars, etc. and then pop them in your freezer for a night when you want to have someone over for coffee and dessert.
  • Have a consistently free evening every week? Use this evening as a natural, built-in block of time to have people over so you don’t even have to think it through each week. Or perhaps, your husband is always gone a certain evening of the week or month. Use this evening as an opportunity to reach out to single girls or women.
  • While it isn’t fancy, using paper plates, cups, and silverware is helpful, especially if there is a large group.
  • Let guests help with clean up if they offer.

Making Food Easy

  • Hospitality is more about the fellowship than the food, so find a meal (or a couple different meals) that is easy to prepare, as well as one that is well-liked by most people, and just always make that meal for company. Then, when you have company, you don’t have to stress about what to make–you already know!
  • Find a meal that allows you to always have the ingredients on hand in the pantry (such as chili or spaghetti) so that you can easily be prepared for any last-minute company.
  • Have a pancake dinner.
  • Taco Bar or Potato Bar are great crowd pleasers- most of the topping for these meals can be chopped or prepared ahead of time and pulled out of the fridge just before serving.
  • For a larger group on a Sunday afternoon do basic foods like ham, potatoes, green beans, rolls, etc. so that there isn’t much prep involved. Stick the items in the crockpot/oven and avoid the extra work of assembling something like a casserole. Use the saved time to clean up the house! 
  • Accept peoples offer to bring something and let them help in the kitchen. (Have them bring something that isn’t it a big deal if it’s forgotten like chips or a cold veggie.)
  • Do evening get-togethers for just dessert and hot drinks or cheese/crackers/fruit, etc., and avoid the extra work of a full meal.
  • Buy pizza!
  • Have a family over and just eat watermelon in the backyard on a warm summer evening for a really simple treat!
  • If a mom is over in the morning for a playdate make smoothies for an easy/refreshing drink for everyone!

Making Conversation Easy-

  • Have some starter questions thought out ahead of time (I.e. What are your plans for this summer? What is something coming up that you are looking forward to? What do you enjoy most about your job? Etc.)
  • Have a game sitting out as an option for something to do.
  • Have some new library books picked out that your kids and their friends haven’t seen before or plan some activities that will help keep them busy and allow for meaningful conversations among the adults.
  • Host a cookout. Kids are often happiest when outside with room to run and parents aren’t as stressed about keeping their kids from getting too loud or messy.
  • See if your guests would enjoy going for a walk. This allows them to feel comfortable with silence in between conversations.                                                                                                                                                                    Hospitality may feel very overwhelming but we hope that you will step out in faith and start right where you are, with whatever resources you have, and experience the blessing of serving others in your home! 

Ways to Show Hospitality

The Bible tells us in Romans 12:13 that we are to “contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” It’s a two-fold command. We often think of hospitality only in terms of having someone over for a meal or hosting people overnight. However, hospitality may also be seen in a simple act of service. So, here are some of our collective ideas for practicing service and hospitality to those around us on a day to day basis.

 

Hospitality Outside the Home

  • Deliver a meal to someone.
  • Pick up some groceries for someone when you are already out shopping.
  • Write a note of encouragement to a shut-in from your church.
  • Invite a mom friend over for a play-date or walk to the park.
  • Drop off flowers to someone who has lost a loved one.
  • Buy a box of diapers for a family who has just had a baby.
  • Write a note or send a small gift to someone in prison.
  • Invite someone to share a picnic lunch at the park with your family after church.
  • Send a box of goodies to a missionary family.
  • Initiate going for a walk with someone while your kids are contained in strollers and where you’re likely to have less interrupted conversations.

 

Hospitality Within the Home

  • Invite your retired neighbors over to bake cookies with you.
  • Invite missionaries on furlough to stay with you.
  • When you have guests staying one or two nights with you write a welcoming message on a piece of paper and then include your internet password info, invite them to make use of the washer/dryer, tell them to help themselves to the refrigerator, etc.
  • Watch a busy mom’s kids for an hour so she can get a hot shower or a nap.
  • Plan a game-night for the singles in your church.
  • Invite a teenage girl over for the day and seek to have intentional conversation. Put kids down for nap, make up some hot tea and settle onto the couch for a heart-to-heart with her.
  • Consider establishing a “soup night” each week, making a big pot of soup and then inviting a family over for food and fellowship. (Some good friends have even turned this into an “all are welcome” kind of soup night.)
  • Prepare an extra amount of food for Sunday lunch and invite a family that visited church that morning.

 

Hospitality with Neighbors

  • Host a neighborhood cookie/hot drink night and read Luke 2 with them around Christmas time.
  • Host a neighborhood “open house” in your driveway, serving lemonade and goodies.
  • Take homemade treats to those on your street.
  • Invite your neighbors to come sit and chat with you while you watch your kids play in the backyard.

 

These ideas are just a few ways that we can seek to show hospitality to those around us. Whatever avenue you may choose to work out your hospitality in, (whether it’s one listed here or one of your own) just remember that this is important work we are doing. We are obeying God’s commands and reflecting Christ’s love and example as we serve one another!

The Gospel Comes with a House Key – A Book Review

 The Gospel Comes with a House Key

This book is not what you might expect of a book on hospitality: there isn’t a chapter with tips for making the time with your guests stress free; neither is there an appendix of tried and true recipes. On the other hand, you won’t find The Gospel Comes with a House Key to be a scholarly essay discussing Scripture’s usage of the words “hospitality“ and “the Gospel.”

Rather, Rosaria Butterfield uses Scripture woven throughout personal examples to delineate an earnest plea for the Body of Christ to practice “radically ordinary hospitality.”

Butterfield defines radically ordinary hospitality as “using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangers neighbors, and neighbors family of God. It brings glory to God, serves others, and lives out the gospel in word and deed” (page 31).

Yes, Butterfield does primarily refer to hospitality in the context of opening our homes to strangers, neighbors, and believers alike in order to gather around the dinner table for food and intentional spiritual edification. But hospitality isn’t just about the food on the table or an opportunity to socialize with people outside of our circle of friends.

Rather, hospitality has implications that extend beyond the few hours we might spend together over a plate of food. In fact, Butterfield argues that living a lifestyle of simple hospitality is about the message of the Gospel. She implores us to open our homes in such a way that a watching world can see what the Gospel is all about—that the cross changes lives, that the cross gives answers to the hard questions in life, and that through the cross, Christ’s love is extended to all alike.

This kind of hospitality peels back the fronts of one’s social status, education, race, sexuality, financial position, political leanings, and even theological camps that so often divide us. In turn, this kind of regular hospitality has the potential to communicate the often-ignored truth that we are all made in the image of God. Indeed, the reality that we are all image-bearers produces a driving motive to practice radical hospitality. Furthermore, it exposes the world’s lie that “being a human being means both more and less than being an image bearer of a holy God” (page 60).

Indeed, grasping the significance of one’s divinely-imposed worth enables us to have blood-bought compassion on the drug addict living on the streets and the criminal in prison. It allows us to extend a comforting hand to the dying and give a home to children whose homes are shattered.

Now that is extreme. But Butterfield argues even these situations provide opportunities to practice ordinary hospitality.

Butterfield takes hospitality one step further and boldly suggests that “radically ordinary and daily hospitality is the basic building block for vital Christian living. Start anywhere. But do start” (page 220).

I take that statement to mean that practicing hospitality is one of the most straightforward, basic, and uncomplicated ways to live out and articulate the message of the gospel before a watching world. However, inviting strangers into my home is a scary thought, for it invites them to enter into my safe-haven and allows them to see that I struggle with sin and that I am in constant need of God’s grace. The thought of making myself so vulnerable is threatening. But is worth seriously considering, for the Gospel is most certainly worthy of any and all risks we may take!

The Gospel Comes with a House Key was convicting on several different levels:

It spoke to my apathy in witnessing to the unsaved.

It spoke to my stinginess in sharing what I have with those around me.

It spoke to my failure to see all human beings as being made in the image of God and to see their divinely-imposed worth as such.

Finally, it spoke to my laziness to practice intentional hospitality towards those outside my circle of friends.

And so I sit here, praying that God would nudge me beyond mere conviction and enable me to take baby steps towards making strangers my neighbors and neighbors part of the family of God.