Wednesday, February 28, 2007

HOSPITALITY: an often neglected topic

As we discussed the possibility of moving, Dustin and I considered the topic of hospitality. My last 2 churches have done an excellent job of being welcoming. We were asked over to homes or out to eat with families numerous times before we even became members at 3ABC. As a single at Heritage, I had constant invitations ranging from meals with others to living with a family for an entire summer! So, the topic is on my mind now as a new wife with a new home and I was going to post a review of sorts on a book I've been skimming: The Hospitality Commands, by Alexander Strauch. I guess you can't really review a book you haven't completely finished. Lucky for me, someone else has already reviewed it first. (You'll have to search for Hospitality Commands)

Towards the end, the reviewer quotes Strauch's practical how-to's of hospitality:
Strauch concludes with helpful hints for practicing hospitality, moving from the abstract to the practical. It is here that Strauch’s heart is evident. He not only wants readers to see that Scripture commands hospitality, he wants to aid us in pursuing that goal. Some of these practical tips include
1. Plan ahead. Unless you plan for hospitality, it probably won’t be a priority.
2. Make a list of people who might be encouraged by your hospitality and start here.
3. Start with your neighbors in using hospitality as an outreach.
4. Don’t forget the holiday season as they are difficult times for many.
5. Collect and file simple and inexpensive recipe ideas. Remove the excuse of expense.
6. Be interested in people’s lives. Learn key questions for meaningful conversation.
7. Be creative in activities for guests. After a meal, take a walk, pray, or even sing. Keep things interesting.
8. Ask your church leaders to teach on the topic of hospitality.
9. Pray that God would give you joy in serving. Confess the selfishness, pride and disobedience that so often hinders us from opening our homes to others.

I've really been considering what it means to be hospitable. Not showing your home to put the spotlight on your family or your things or your cooking, but hospitality as defined by Scripture. Kari's about to take Mrs. Mohler's class on the subject and I'm dying to hear what they learn. I guess it's just starting to sink in that hospitality is a command, not an option. I think I always thought it was the "super-Christians" who opened their homes. The book also talks of how it IS an inconvenience... and yet that's what makes it a sacrifice. Giving of your time, resources, things... opening up such a private part of your lives for others to rest, refresh, fellowship, enjoy. Hospitality can be used in evangelism, disciplship, etc. I'm just trying to learn what this looks like (and what it doesn't) and what motives should be behind the act.

I'll say this much - I made a mental list the other day of godly women who have been Titus 2 models, if you will, in my life. I had a good 7 ladies on that list and I could have kept going. One of the central characteristics that these ladies held in common (besides the Gospel) was their hospitality. I am so grateful to God for these ladies and the example that stays in my heart even today.

We love having people over, but we are learning that it does take forethought, planning, organization, sacrifice and correct motives. And I'm just trying to remember that those who open their homes aren't the "super-Christians" and if we open ours, it doesn't put us in that imaginary category either. It's a command to obey.

The reviewer notes:
By examining several clear Scriptural commands, Strauch develops the thesis that our lack of hospitality is actually disobedience. Strauch does an excellent job demonstrating just how much Scripture has to say on this often neglected topic.

What do you think?


Kelli Bragdon said...

Jamie- I love this reminder! Hospitality showed up on my spiritual gifts survey and ever since then I have been struggling with this as a discipline. It is something that is central to our marriage and has been since we got married. But right now, I keep finding myself making excuses. Thank you for the reminder and for helping me remember the joy and freedom that comes from obedience. Though Hospitality is something I really enjoy it has taken me years to figure out how to do it with the right attitude.
May God bless your home with joyful hospitality that blesses your and Dustin more than you could imagine!

Mrs. Jamie Butts :) said...

Kelli -
I think there's definitely got to be a balance for mom's like you. You can't have people over all the time with all of your little babies needing all of your attention. But... I do think this book encouraged me (what I read of it) because you don't have to do anything fancy... just having a struggling single over for coffee or a new Christian over for pizza even!
Keep us updated on your pregnancy. I'm watching the ticker!

Mary said...

Jamie - I am so happy to see you studying this topic. So often young ladies (married or single) believe this is an area of ministry for the older women in the church and that their day will come later.
In being hospitable do not forget that your first area of ministry is to your husband and children (when they get here).
Something else I relized in the last year or so is that while all christians are to be hospitable, "to be given to hospitality" is a gift from God.

sarahdodson said...

Good stuff here, Jamie!! It's definitely a good reminder. More later; I'm in a HURRY. :)

sarahdodson said...

What an excellent post, Jamie! Thanks for taking the time to write it and share.

I've been to homes where hospitality is practiced and homes where it is not. It makes a world of difference.

I long for our house to be a home where others feel welcome and loved. It's good to share with others what the Lord's been so faithful to bless you with!

sarahdodson said...

Great post, Jamie! Such a good reminder. Thanks for sharing.

(this is the 3rd time I've tried to comment and it's driving me CRAZY)