The Rhino Room | Hospitality

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How Can Christians be Intentional About Hospitality?

Nicolas Alford (Pastor, Grace Baptist Church of Taylors, South Carolina)

Christian intentionality about hospitality is not complicated, we’re just complacent.

Invite people into your home on Sunday afternoon for a meal. No one cares if you dusted. Talk to people at church. If they’re visiting, be welcoming and helpful. When someone invites you into their home, make every reasonable effort to accept. Incorporate fellow Christians into your daily life. Build real relationships with unbelievers so that they know they are actual people to you, not mere evangelism projects.

This is not rocket science, and yet Peter has to tell us to do it without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9). Therefore, if we aren’t showing hospitality we are probably not lacking for opportunity or knowledge, we are probably lacking in motivation. The immediately preceding verse in 1 Peter tells us to keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Hospitality is really just living out that love.

Samuel Barber (Pastoral Assistant, Ephesus Church of Rincon, Georgia)

My wife and I learned an important lesson about hospitality the summer that we spent a month in Beijing, China. We learned that hospitality is mostly an attitude of the heart (i.e. travel in Beijing is hectic, and it takes a long time to get anywhere; it’s exhausting. So, instead of asking others come to us, we went to them. We showed them hospitality, even though they never came to our home).

The Greek word translated “hospitable” carries the notion of having a love for strangers. So, I would say that hospitality is engaging others, so they feel loved, safe, secure, welcome, and cared for. Christians can be intentional about hospitality by making every effort in every circumstance, at home and abroad, to live for the good of others, rather than their own. This will look different in different circumstances, but learning selflessness is an essential first step toward hospitality.

Wayne Brandow (Pastor, Bible Baptist Church of Galway, New York)

If we would be hospitable, we must know what it entails. The underlying Greek word in the NT for “hospitality” is φιλοξενία, which means, “love of strangers.” Thus, to be hospitable in the biblical sense is to make a stranger feel at home.

The initial social reserve common in new encounters with others is a protective device. We seldom feel at ease with strangers until we sense that they are genuine and safe. A salesmen is friendly, but he has an agenda. When we meet someone new and they are showing interest in us, it is natural to wonder why. If a person senses that you are interested in them so that you might claim another win in your soul-winning tally, they will see your apparent “hospitality” as disingenuous. We just need to truly love people for who they are. The rest will take care of itself.

Matt Foreman (Pastor, Faith Reformed Baptist Church of Media, Pennsylvania)

Let’s be clear on our definition – I believe that the Biblical term ‘hospitality’ (philoxenos) is not just an action, but an attitude of the heart. It’s not just about ‘showing hospitality’ but ‘being hospitable’ — being an open person, an approachable person, a person who shows a warmth to receive others based on real interest and love. It is, in fact, one of two distinct characteristics (being hospitable and able to teach) required for pastors (1 Tim.3:2). Real discipleship happens by teaching with your life. So hospitality is to be a regular part of the Christian life (see Rom. 12:13, 1 Pet. 4:7-9, Heb. 13:2, Luke 14:12-14).

To be intentional, Christians need to first cultivate a theological conviction about hospitality (Lev.19:33-34, Exod. 23:9, Rom.15:9) as part of the imaging of God. Conviction will fuel your purposefulness to develop and implement a plan!

Marc Grimaldi (Pastor, Grace Reformed Baptist Church of Merrick, New York)

While the idea of “hospitality” is implied all throughout Scripture, the actual word is only used four times in the New Testament, and two of the times, it’s listed as one of the qualifications for being an overseer (Tit. 1:8; 1 Tim. 3:2). That said, the other two times (1 Pet. 4:9; Rom. 12:13), along with the general implications of Scripture as a whole, clearly affirm that the duty belongs to all Christians.

I emphasize the pastoral aspect of hospitality, because this qualification further asserts that pastors are to be more than “living in the study” preachers. Hospitality presumes a very personal aspect to ministry, which gets to know people and their needs, with the intent of generously serving them.

Since Christ Himself was the most hospitable person to ever walk the earth, we can presume that hospitality doesn’t necessarily have to be exercised within one’s own home.  Location isn’t the issue. Generous, God-glorifying service is. When Jesus washed His disciple’s feet, He left us with a general template for hospitality.

Nicholas Kennicott (Pastor, Ephesus Church of Rincon, Georgia)

Hospitality is an under-emphasized aspects of Christian life in America. Having traveled to many areas of the world, it seems to me that other cultures often understand hospitality better than those in a western context, however it’s always something that must be undertaken intentionally with love for one’s neighbor so that we can “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9).

Being hospitable is not just about opening one’s home, but also one’s life. It’s a welcoming disposition toward others with an intentional pursuit of building them up. Christians should ask God to help them overcome their fears of interacting with new people, and be willing to take the risk of letting others into their life and home. We should be able to look to pastors for an example of good hospitality since God requires it of them (1 Timothy 3:2).

Chris Marley (Pastor, Miller Valley Baptist Church of Miller Valley, Arizona)

I’m sad to say that I’ve never heard this question asked before, but it’s a crucial one. It’s really a sub-question to, “how do I love the brethren?” To a certain degree, the answer is asking the question. Be intentional. Seek out the person with whom you have the least in common and invite them over for dinner, lunch, or a cup of coffee. It can even be the little actions of just engaging in conversation for a time after service that displays Christian love. Practice it with the saints and expand to unbelievers. If you do it poorly, do it anyway, and you’ll improve. We know that “Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.” Hospitality is one of the ways we do that. I would also advise people to ask their pastor how he does hospitality, because it’s a major part of our lives and the personality of the church.

Osinachi Nwoko (Sovereign Grace Bible Church of Lagos, Nigeria)

The word hospitality means to be kind/warm and welcoming/receptive to guest and strangers. As a people who are recipients of the tender mercies amazing grace of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ, we no doubt must have hearts disposed to being hospitable. And the sphere of our hospitality is not to be limited to those in the household of faith (our brothers and sisters in Christ), but to all men (Galatians 6:9-10).

Stating these things though, doesn’t remove the obvious fact that many believers (myself inclusive) fail woefully in showing hospitality even to those we call brethren. The Apostle Paul’s encouraging words to the Galatians serves to stir us to be intentional about being hospitable. He says we should not grow weary in well doing or doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not faint. We can–and indeed should be–encouraged by the fact that God will reward all good deeds done in His name.

By putting in remembrance what God in Christ did to reconcile us aliens to Himself, the example of Christ’s life while in the flesh as well as those of the disciples and saints recorded in Scripture, the blessings attached to being hospitable/doing good and how showing hospitality helps our Gospel witness, Christians are greatly encouraged to be intentional about showing hospitality.

Douglas Van Dorn (Pastor, Reformed Baptist Church of Northern Colorado)

Hospitality is the simple idea of graciously receiving guests or strangers—usually in your home. Our church is in a relatively cold climate and our people drive for 50 miles in any direction to get to church. This has made hospitality a very difficult fruit to practice. Intentionality, forethought, and planning are essential in this kind of context, otherwise it happens too rarely. Two ideas are to have the deacons in the church set up events, asking that they be in various homes within the church. The other is to continually teach the people the commands and benefits of hospitality. If a desired outcome (discipleship, kindness, relationships, friendships) is not understood, then the need won’t be large enough to overcome the cultural disadvantages. At the end of the day, it simply has to be a priority, otherwise it won’t happen. We just aren’t living in 1st century Palestine any longer.

4 thoughts on “The Rhino Room | Hospitality

  1. Jesus, our ultimate example, did not have a home to invite people to, yet somehow he practiced hospitality. What was it that made him hospitable? When interacting with people, he shared something more satisfying than conversation about the weather or the latest model camel. He shared the soul-satisfying Bread of Life and Living Water.

    I intentionally prepare to be hospitable by how I feed my mind and soul when alone. I cannot minister to the souls of people through meaningful conversation if I have nothing fresh to share from my own feeding on the Bread of Life and drinking of the Living Water. I am also intentional about hospitality when I study and cultivate the art of conversation and meaningful questions that demonstrate my genuine interest and sympathy and encourage people to talk about subjects of eternal consequence and the state of their souls.

    1. Fantastic thoughts Becky, thank you so much! You mention something I’ve sought to encourage people to do often: Think about some things to talk about prior to going into a conversation. Have questions ready, and be genuinely interested in their responses. Questions lead to more questions, and before you know it, you’re having a good, edifying conversation and getting to know one another. Some people are socially awkward and don’t feel comfortable leading in conversations with new people… this can be a good way to help. Thanks again Becky!

  2. I don’t disagree with anything posted here, but would like to add an extra thought: Make every effort to dust.

    I know this could be controversial, so let me explain. I have seen families use hospitality as an excuse for messy living. (Seriously.) I know some dear brothers and sisters who have multiple children and regularly invite people into their home for dinner or Sunday lunch. Most of us would commend them for their hospitality, as we should. But could they be hospitable AND ensure their children pick up the toys from the front entryway before their guests walk in? Or wipe the crumbs off the table after the last meal before we sit down to eat? Or clean the toilet before they offer their bathroom to their guests? I’ve heard one wife/mom in particular acknowledge the regular messiness of their home and chuckle about it like it’s just the norm.

    But messiness shouldn’t be the standard in our efforts to show hospitality in our homes. If hospitality begins with an attitude of the heart, then why wouldn’t we want to treat our neighbors with enough love to tidy up before they enter our house?

    What I’m not saying:
    …I’m not saying that it’s okay to use your mess as an excuse to NOT be hospitable. Be hospitable; and in being hospitable, clean your house! It shouldn’t be an either/or scenario.
    …I’m not saying that you have to roll out the red carpet any time you invite someone over for a meal or drink. But you could spend an hour wiping down the table, vacuuming the floor, or cleaning the pool before you host a swim party like we do in Arizona!
    …I’m not saying you should treat your house like an museum or model home. Idolatry comes in many varieties, and we should never make our home an idol. Life is messy, and our homes get cluttered and dirty. BUT we are called to be good stewards of what God have given us. We would do well to keep that in mind WHILE we show hospitality.

    I’ve already said too much, so let me summarize with this: In our desire to be hospitable through opening our homes (and truly, our lives) to friends or strangers, we should seek to give our BEST to those who come into our homes as we do so for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).

    1. Thanks David – great hearing from you, brother! I agree with you completely, and as soon as I figured out where you were going with it I thought, “It’s about giving our best!” I certainly want my guests to eat the best food I can serve them and have the most comfortable experience they can have, so that should certainly include being able to sit in a clean room without wondering where the landmines are laid and if they’ll leave with hepatitis! There’s certainly a balance between a museum and a barn… But part of being intentional is taking the time to care about making others comfortable.

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