Last week at the Church Planter Training Conference, Al & Laurie Tricarico gave a presentation on Hospitality & Evangelism from which we pull a couple of highlights that should encourage each of us:
Question Posed to the Group: Why is hospitality a qualification for elders?(We can broaden that to why are Christians called to be hospitable?)
Answers from the Group:
1) Because God is hospitable to us. He welcomes us into his family and his home. So we seek to welcome people into our home with a desire for God to welcome them into his family.
2) It’s an example of putting their interests above our own. I may want to spend Saturday watching a football game or doing something else, but having someone over allows me to put their needs above my desires in a tangible way.
3) It’s an act of humble service. Much like foot washing, it requires a servant’s heart.
4) Hospitality requires us to initiate with people, much like God initiates with us in the gospel.
Hospitality is the great equalizer: Everybody eats and everyone has a home.
Most often hospitality will take place in your home, but there are other ways: It may be taking a friend out to lunch, visiting someone in the hospital or prison, maybe even being a welcoming guest. Be a welcoming guest seems far removed from hospitality but it isn’t, and is a great ministry.
Laurie provided some very practical advice:
1) We don’t all have to be the same. You don’t have to compare yourself to others. There are different seasons of life and hospitality will look different: first 1 room apt, when you have little kids, empty nest etc. Just get the job done.
2) Keep it simple! Sunday is a good day. Use the same menu. Prepare Saturday night. Spaghetti, bread, ice cream and brownies—easy, doable.
3) In the summer have bigger families over when the kids can play outside. Grill out.
4) Look for opportunities to meet a need. An example: single guys coming to bible study were having trouble getting out of work, getting food, and getting to study on time. Provide a meal before bible study for them.
Be intentional but realistic with your neighborhood. An example was given: One family has 18 homes in their neighborhood. They pray for these homes and families. When opportunity arises, they talk to them and get to know them. Every year in the fall they invite everyone to their Bible Study home group. They simply walk around with an invitation that they give to everyone or leave at their door. The first year 6 people showed up. They modified the bible study portion to: What is the Bible? During the prayer time, one of the visitors felt comfortable enough to ask for prayer for something they were anxious about. They prayed together and it allowed for ministry and care to the person. The second year 15 people came to the Bible study. This significantly furthers those relationships and provides ongoing opportunity to get to know people and share life over the natural course of time.
We don’t have to be perfect. God will bless faithful, ongoing, sincere efforts often beyond what you would expect.
Hospitality displays two concepts—two words—that everybody is talking about: Authenticity and Community. We have both. There is nothing more real than recognizing we are broken and trusting in Christ. People say they want community and we can present real community to them.
God is hospitable to us and we seek to model that hospitality to the world around us.