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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.