The Power of Hospitality

As a pastor, I had the freedom to choose who I spent time with during the day and in the evenings. I made all the regular excuses—I’m tired, I’m busy, I’ve been doing ministry all week—to keep out those with whom I didn’t want to interact. My boundaries had slowly morphed into idols that kept neighbors and acquaintances out of our home. My life was insulated, and I needed a wake-up call.

While I prayed for opportunities to be salty and luminous, I was accidentally keeping curious outsiders out of our family. After a tug-of-war with God and conversations with my wife, we made a paradigm shift: We stopped viewing our home as a refuge from ministry and started viewing it as a hub for ministry. Our mindset changed, and so did our habits, parties, dinners and Sunday afternoons. Our life became richer, and our faith is deeper because of this shift.

An unintended consequence of this change has been my kids’ engagement in missions. They can see, taste, touch and hug our faith at home. Barna Group’s Households of Faith study reveals similar findings. Because of the link they found between household relationships and robust faith, they encourage churches to “focus first on true household ministry, not just family ministry.” The study also found that “1 in 5 millennials believes being hospitable is the best way to express generosity.” Christ followers who have regular visitors in their homes are more likely to “forge deep, meaningful relationships both within and outside their homes.” Barna also reports “a responsibility to tell others about one’s Christian beliefs” is linked to having regular guests. Hospitality makes faith tangible.

There are limitless ways to invite others into your home. Here are a few.

1. Start a Neighborhood Ritual.

Start something simple and make it a regular occasion. For us it’s Free Coffee Friday on the corner, but for others it’s happy hour or game nights. Invite your kids to shape this activity.

2. Set Goals for Monthly Guests.

We’re all busy, but we’re also hungry for relationship. Establish a monthly goal for how many people you want to invite into your home or to your table for a meal.

3. Do What You Already Do Intentionally.

Don’t reinvent the wheel—find something you already enjoy doing, and ask others to join you. I realized I was watching football on Sundays about 30 feet from my neighbor who was doing the same thing. So we started watching games together.

4. Expand Your View of Family.

Language shapes culture. Calling others “aunt” or “uncle” cultivates a family feel every child longs for, especially in families separated from extended family. Those who drop in your home frequently can gain the nickname, and feel more welcome to do so in the process.

5. Invite Others to Affirm Your Kids.

We are thrilled when young adults and friends of ours have joined us in discipling our kids. Sometimes they take the children out for ice cream or ask them questions around our table. Other times they are just “around” in our home.

6. Let Your Children Do the Inviting.

Encourage your kids to invite friends and their families to parties and gatherings at your home. Our kids have opened up our social networks by inviting those they wanted to come.

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Alan Briggs
Alan Briggs

Alan Briggs, an Outreach magazine contributing editor, is crazy about helping kingdom leaders uncover clarity, courage and health. He is a leadership coach, sabbatical coach, writer and podcaster. His experience as a pastor and church planting catalyst inform all of his work. Join the conversation at Stay Forth Leadership Podcast