2009 at 4:23 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
“Show hospitality.” 1 Peter 4:9
In addition to the what and the who, Scripture tells us how to practice hospitality. First off, we’re to show hospitality intentionally. To “show hospitality” is to make vigorous effort. We are to pursue or strive after hospitality.
This eliminates the, “I’ll do it when I feel like it,” “I’ll do it when it is convenient,” and “I’ll do it when I have to” approaches to hospitality—all of which I’ve tried. No, we’re to go after hospitality like a dog hunting a bone. We’re to sniff out opportunities and seize upon them.
If you’re like me and spontaneity is a mild form of torture, (somewhere just below water-boarding), then scheduling hospitality can help you be intentional. Every month, my husband and I sit down with our calendars and lists of folks we’d like to have over, and plan a few months in advance.
But we can also plan to be spontaneous: one woman in my church has a meal prepared before the Sunday meeting so they can invite someone to join them for lunch. And of course, if you are one of those women who love the last minute, late-staying guest, then invite away!
Second, we’re to practice hospitality wisely. “The wisest of women builds her house,” it says in Proverbs 14:1; and she “looks well to the ways of her household” it echoes in Proverbs 31:27.
Here’s where you come in! We want to glean from your hospitality wisdom. So, please contact us this week and tell us:
1. Your favorite hospitality recipes. Maybe they are easy, make ahead, budget friendly, or good for a crowd. Or maybe you have a special meal or dessert that your guests have really enjoyed. Share your hospitality-tested recipes with all of us!
2. Your favorite hospitality tips. These can be menu ideas, party themes, or game suggestions. We’d love tips for doing hospitality with kids or on a tight budget. And we’d love to know how you schedule and prepare for hospitality. Please pass on what you’ve learned from experience or from other hospitable women.
We’ll compile the best recipes and ideas and post them next week so we can all learn from each other how to practice hospitality more intentionally and wisely.
2009 at 11:22 am | by Nicole Whitacre
At our church’s women’s meeting on hospitality a young woman shared a powerful testimony of her mom’s example of hospitality. It is a perfect illustration of John Piper’s quote from yesterday: “Never underestimate the power of your living room as a launching pad for new life and hope and ministry and mission.” May we all be inspired by this woman’s example:
For as long as I can remember, my parents have made hospitality an integral part of our family life. Though my mom has used her home countless times to serve, bless, and welcome relatives and church members, God has recently used her hospitality in evangelism.
Last year, my mom started to befriend my neighbor, (I’ll call her Sue) meeting her for coffee and starting to build a relationship. When my neighbor tragically lost her husband, my parents invited her over for dinner every Wednesday night as a way to offer comfort and support. In order to make our home a place where Sue felt loved and accepted, my mom purposely did nothing out of the ordinary. She didn’t scrub the kitchen floor or prepare a five-course meal or even dress up. She just invited Sue into our family. In order to make Sue feel accepted, my mom incorporated her into our everyday traditions. In our family, everyone has their own napkin ring so that we all know exactly where to sit at the table; so, on Sue’s first night over, my mom got out a new napkin ring and handed it to her, telling her that it was her napkin ring now and that we would look forward to her coming every week. A couple of months later, Sue shared with us how much that simple gesture had meant to her, and that she truly felt part of our family.
Using hospitality in evangelism not only makes your friend part of your family, it also, by God’s grace, demonstrates the gospel in action. From the way my mom cheerfully greets my dad when he walks in the door, to the way my dad gently corrects us, to the way we do our chores without being asked, our everyday actions prove the power of the gospel. When Sue wonders how my mom and dad became such wonderful parents, or how they have such a healthy relationship, my mom has the opportunity to tell her why. Three-fourths of the time their conversations aren’t about the gospel at all; they just talk about life. But while my parents don’t avoid the gospel, they certainly don’t force it either. Rather, they feel that God has more room to work with a firm basis of friendship and trust.
Personally, I really appreciate the way my mom has incorporated our entire family in hospitality. Wednesday nights aren’t a one-woman-show; she’s purposefully includes all of us. Actually, she began integrating us years ago when she trained us to help around the house, to have meaningful conversations with adults, and to welcome others into our family. When my mom first started teaching me to wash the dishes and make my bed, I could never have imagined that God would one day use my chores as a witness to the gospel. But Sue finds it amazing that my brother and I cheerfully start clearing the table without being asked. Evangelism has brought an eternal perspective to my everyday life reminding me that, when the gospel starts working, ordinary life becomes amazing.
When I look at my mom’s life and the way God is using her to reach the lost, I’m struck by her faithfulness to obey God’s commands, even when it didn’t seem so important. The way my mom uses her hospitality to evangelize began over twenty years ago, as she learned to cook, trained us to do our chores, and began practicing hospitality within the church. Now God is using those gifts, not just to bless Sue, but also her accountant. ‘Her accountant?’ You ask? The Wednesday before Christmas, Sue brought us a tin of peanuts from her accountant, explaining that once she had mentioned our Wednesday dinners to him and that now he always asks about us and our time together and wanted to give us a gift. I think it’s a reminder from God that the effects of our hospitality aren’t confined to our home. All of the little things you’re doing today: changing diapers, correcting math tests, cooking dinner after dinner; they all have an eternal effect.
We no longer see Sue every Wednesday, but dinners with her have become normal: last week we ate diet chicken as we sorted out our schedule for the week. But these dinners, they mean a lot to Sue because they show her that someone cares about her. Our entire family is looking forward to the day when Sue understands that God is the One who cares for her and who makes our care for her possible.
If my mom were here tonight, she’d want you to know that none of this is her doing. It’s all because of God, and it’s all for his glory. He brought Sue into our lives, He led us to extend hospitality to her, and He is using it all to show His love for her.
2009 at 1:29 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Hospitality is not only for the church. We should extend hospitality to those outside the church community as well—people who do not yet know Christ, and also to the poor and needy around us and throughout the world.
“The gospel was preached and propagated” in hospitable households of the New Testament church says Christin Pohl, and it should be the same for us today.
“A home from a biblical perspective” explains Lisa Tatlock, “is to be a place of refuge and a center for evangelism.”
How can you make your home a center for evangelism?
Simply invite someone in. Maybe ask a neighbor or a fellow student or coworker over for dinner or dessert. Throw a party with friends from church and invite some non-Christian friends as well. Have a family to your home for a cookout or include neighborhood kids in a birthday party.
When we invite non-Christians into our home we invite them into our lives. We give them a chance to see us up-close and personal; to observe our family, our marriage, our parenting. Our hope is not that they would be impressed with us, but that they would see God’s grace at work in our homes.
In this way, hospitality can present the gospel as attractive to those who do not yet know Christ.
And let me also add, that while our home-life can be a witness to the gospel, we should not hold back from hospitality simply because our kids aren’t fully trained, or our house isn’t perfectly organized or clean. God will use even our weaknesses and shortcomings; and our humility to allow others to see us as we are is an evidence of His grace.
John Piper gives us this biblical charge: “Don’t ever underestimate the power of your living room as a launching pad for new life and hope and ministry and mission!”
2009 at 2:48 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” 1 Peter 4:8-10
Before vacation we were talking about hospitality—what it is (a love of strangers) and who is to show it (all Christians). Today we pick up where we left off and consider who we are to show hospitality to.
First and foremost, we are to show hospitality to “one another.” The members of our local church should top our guest list.
You see, hospitality “builds up unity and helps meet practical needs” of those in our church (Dict. of Later NT). It strengthens bonds of friendship. It supplies food and shelter in time of need.
In the early church hospitality “was an expression of respect and recognition, a physical symbol of the destruction of those status boundaries irrelevant in the community” of believers (New Dict. of Biblical Theology).
What an amazing statement hospitality makes. It says to fellow church members: “Your background or ethnicity, your education or accomplishments, hobbies or interests—none of that matters. What matters is that we are both undeserving recipients of the grace of God. That is what unites us in friendship.”
It’s almost impossible to maintain evil prejudices or hold on to arrogant, superior attitudes or persist in sinful judgments and still show hospitality. By the act of inviting others to our home, giving of our resources, serving them, taking an interest in their lives, we show the world that “love covers a multitude of sins.”
And hospitality says something to our children as well. It speaks of our affectionate love for the people of God: “the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight” (Ps. 16:3). Hospitality, as one author put it, “is a way of bringing the household into the church and the church into the household” (Dict. of Later NT)
If we are wise parents, we will make hospitality a priority. In this way we can impart to our children a love for the people of God, teach them to follow godly examples, and encourage a passion for service in God’s kingdom.
What a powerful word hospitality speaks to our church, our children, and the world!
2009 at 2:26 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
“When most Christians hear about their responsibility to practice hospitality, they can think up an amazing number of creative excuses to explain why they cannot be hospitable. Yet Christians are commanded to be hospitable.” Alexander Strauch
Our budget is too tight.
Our home is too small.
We don’t have a couch.
We don’t have a dishwasher.
The painter’s plastic hanging in the middle of our living room isn’t very attractive.
I’m not good at this.
It’s been a long week and I’m tired.
I’ve used all of these excuses to apply for hospitality exemptions. But Scripture has denied all my claims. The Bible is clear about who is to show hospitality: all Christians. By God’s grace, that includes me.
All Christians—not just the rich, or the creative, or the organized, or the gourmet cooks, or the outgoing personalities or the ones with lots of free time. All Christians.
Members of the first century church understood that: “loving one another demanded being hospitable” (Dict. of NT Background, emphasis mine). So where genuine Christian love exists, there you’ll find hospitality. Or, in other words, we can’t claim to love others and refuse to show hospitality. It is, “a matter of obedience” (Alexander Strauch).
And it has particular application to us as Christian women. It is “a natural extension of [our] authority in the domestic sphere” (Dict. of the Later NT) and thus a primary qualification for the godly woman (1 Timothy 5:9).
All Christians are to practice hospitality but not all in the same way. “As each has received a gift” we are to serve one another, “as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Pet. 4:7-10).
My hospitality may not be as frequent as my friend Taye’s. My house may not be as clean as Alyssa’s. My food won’t be as delicious as Bonnie’s or my presentation as creative as Lesley’s. But God has given me grace. I must use that gift of grace to serve and love and show hospitality.
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” 1 Peter 4:7-10
2009 at 9:53 am | by Nicole Whitacre
For my church’s ladies meeting on hospitality, my friend (and a great example of hospitality!) Nancy Rogers compiled a list of questions to help us get to know the people we invite into our homes. These conversation starters will help you show God’s love to strangers. Thank you Nancy!
Hospitality Questions (Downloadable PDF)
Questions to Get to Know People Better
1. Where did you grow up?
2. Where did you go to school and what did you study?
3. How did you meet your spouse and how long have you been married?
4. What dreams do you have for the future?
5. What is one thing you have never done that you wish you could do?
6. What is the most important thing you have accomplished in your life?
7. What do you enjoy doing with your spare time?
8. If you could do anything other than what you are doing now, what would you do?
9. Ask questions about their work, their kids, where they like to vacation or their favorite foods.
10. What books are they currently reading?
Questions for Biblical Fellowship
1. What is one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
2. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year and what are you doing to this end?
3. Who is one person you would like to spend time with asking questions about their relationship with the Lord?
4. What is one new way you could help strengthen the church?
5. What is one thing you could do to improve your prayer life?
6. What habit would you most like to establish this year?
7. Who do you most want to encourage this year?
8. What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?
9. In what area of your life do you most need growth and what will you do about it?
10. What one biblical doctrine do you most want to understand better this year?
Questions to Get to Know Internationals Better
1. What country are you from?
2. Can you describe your daily life and family traditions in your home country?
3. What was your education like and what are your interests?
4. What are your impressions of our country?
5. Were you brought up in a religious home?
6. What foods are unique to your country?/ what food from our country do you enjoy?
7. Would you teach me a few words in your native language?
8. Are there any questions you would like to ask me?
9. What are your special holidays and how do you celebrate them?
10. Is there any way I can serve you?
2009 at 2:29 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:8-9
In this series, we’ll answer four simple questions about hospitality:
What is hospitality?
Who is to show hospitality and who is to receive hospitality?
Why show hospitality?
How do we show hospitality?
So what is hospitality? The word, as it is used in the Bible, is a compound word that brings together the two words “love” and “stranger.” It literally means to show “Love for strangers.”
Hospitality is love. Not only does the word mean “love,” but here it is set in the context of the command to “keep loving one another earnestly.”
“Love in action” is how one woman defines hospitality. It is “meeting the needs of others through the use of one’s resources, specifically in and through the context of the home” (Practicing Hospitality, Pat Ennis & Lisa Tatlock)
Showing hospitality is not limited to having people into our home (although this is its primary expression). We can also use the resources of our home to show hospitality by making a meal, buying groceries, visiting the sick, babysitting, sending a note of encouragement, gifting homemade crafts, and even supporting local and international ministries who feed and clothe the poor.
Hospitality is a love of strangers. “It is to show kindness to strangers in such a way that they cease to be strangers.” It is “A concrete and personal expression of Christian love, intended to include strangers in a circle of care.” (New Dictionary of Biblical Theology)
A “stranger” isn’t merely a person you’ve never laid eyes on before. So often, people in our churches, neighborhoods, jobs, schools, and even extended family are strangers. Even though we see them every day, we hardly know them.
But when someone walks through our front door, a tangible, powerful thing happens. There is a fundamental change in our relationship. People who were once strangers cease to be strangers. They become a guest, and even a friend.
Who is one stranger you can show love to this week?
2009 at 4:13 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
“Show hospitality to one another…” 1 Peter 4:9
I used to think that hospitality was for certain, uniquely gifted women who “got into that sort of thing.” You know the type: she has three lasagnas in the freezer, a roast and potatoes in the crockpot, cookies in the oven and coffee just brewed. Her table is always graced with fresh-cut hydrangeas from her garden—even in the dead of winter (or so it seems). She’s never happier than when a few strays show up unannounced for dinner, except of course, when a family of seven comes to stay for the week.
Me, well I panic when an extra guest shows up for dinner. My hydrangeas barely bloom in spring, and I think the chicken in my freezer has a frosty coat. Oh, and the coffee? I drank that already.
Don’t get me wrong—I love all things domestic, but I never thought I had the kind of capacity for regular hospitality as those “gifted” women.
Sadly, I didn’t see the importance of hospitality either. I considered my home to be merely one of many possible places to get together with people. So when my husband Steve and I would plan to hang out with church members, neighbors, family and friends, I was quick to suggest we take a couple to Starbucks or host a group at the park. Less work for me, I thought, to my shame.
You can see why I had to laugh when our senior pastor’s wife, Lesley called last fall and asked me to lead a women’s meeting on hospitality. I think maybe God was laughing too.
So I sat down with a stack of Bible dictionaries from my husband’s library and a few books on hospitality (I had to buy and borrow as I didn’t have any!) and made some surprising discoveries.
For example, did you know that hospitality is everywhere in Scripture? It’s a major theme in the Old Testament, notable in our Savior’s life and teaching, and a regular practice of the early church. Hospitality even figures prominently in the Bible’s description of heaven.
In fact, the number of times the New Testament authors exhorted believers to practice hospitality (Rom. 12:13, 1 Tim 5:10, Heb. 13:2, 1 Pet. 4:9, and so on) led one author to observe that to them, “hospitality was evidently rated highly.”
Sadly, I had not rated hospitality as highly as I should, but by God’s grace, my perspective has changed. I’m not so quick to suggest Starbucks anymore.
Today, we want to start a new series on hospitality, and our hope is that all of us would be encouraged to rate hospitality as highly as God does.
2007 at 11:04 am | by Nicole Whitacre
While we’ve been busy talking about family meals, we’ve also been eyeing several destinations around the World Wide Web we think you should visit. So, we’re going to play travel agents this week and suggest what we hope will be an edifying itinerary.
Today, as an addendum to our series on mealtime, we want to encourage you to check out some fantastic links on hospitality. This often under-appreciated biblical imperative is a means of extending the grace of family mealtime to fellow-church members, newcomers, and unbelievers.
First, head over to 9Marks Ministries and “go beyond lemonade and cookies” in a thought provoking article on a biblical theology of hospitality by Jonathan Leeman. You can also read testimonies from three Christian leaders (Ken Sande, Donald Whitney and Ryan Townsend) on the effect of Christian hospitality and read a book review of The Hospitality Commands by Alexander Strauch. (Note: you have to scroll down to view these articles.)
Then, click on our friend Carolyn McCulley’s website and you can read a number of stellar articles on hospitality. Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that Carolyn is well qualified to write on this subject. Here are several options on her “menu:”
Invite a Married to Dinner
Practical Questions about Hospitality
Imitating Our Hospitable God
When Outreach Doesn’t Come Easily
A Single Woman’s Home: A Mission Field
Check back tomorrow as our little trip around the Internet heads a new direction.