3 Tips for Making Hospitality Easy—and a Joy!
Hospitality. The word itself has a nice ring to it—a pleasant connotation. Yet, I hadn’t really given it much thought until my husband and I, as newlyweds, began to visit a Presbyterian church in a new community to which we had recently moved. It was definitely on the smaller side, maybe 60 attendees. I had been to Bible studies bigger than that. The preaching was amazing, and the people were so authentic and kind.
What blew our minds was that every week after church for the first couple of months, we were invited to someone’s home for lunch. I know it should have sounded delightful, but—in all honesty—it was a little disconcerting. The first week that it happened my husband and I exchanged quick, nervous glances, and I knew we were thinking the same thing: “Um, we don’t even know them, and they are inviting us to their home?” We would receive these invitations again and again.
Being the practical woman that I am, the next question in my mind was: “Do these women just have crockpot meals prepared at home at all times on the off-chance they run into a potential dinner guest?” I was very confused. I think back to those memories and laugh now. We fell in love with that church and have been members of the congregation for almost nine years now. Yet, the reality is that when you accept an invitation to the home of someone you don’t know very well, you are opening yourself up to a little bit of vulnerability. What if it’s awkward? What if you hate their food? What if we run out of things to talk about?
Hospitality produces soul-nourishing joy.
It’s interesting, as “fluff” as the topic can seem to be, the Bible mentions hospitality a lot. In Romans 12, Paul discusses the mark of a Christian, and hospitality makes the cut:
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (italics added; Rom. 12:9-13)
There is a special connection that happens when sharing a meal. If you reflect on some of your fondest memories, many of them are made at the table. What would Thanksgiving or Christmas be without the feast with all of the trimmings? Consider the Last Supper or even the eternal feasting that we will experience in heaven for all of eternity. There is soul-nourishing joy that is found over a good meal.
Some of the best conversations and learning opportunities from women I respect in my congregation have happened over a meal—not during a retreat or a theological conference, but over a casual meal where we can feel safe enough to lower our guards and share who we really are and what struggles we may be going through at the time.
Try these 3 tips to make being hospitable easy—and a joy!
So, on that note, I would like to encourage you to open your home and get to know some of your brothers and sisters in Christ a little bit better. Again, going back to my practical side, I’d like to leave you with some tips to make it a little easier. I’ve learned a few things over the years (usually by mistakes being made), and I hope these suggestions are useful to you as you begin to consider this encouragement toward hospitality:
Do most of the work ahead of time: I have hosted and attended dinner parties where the hostess is in the kitchen up to her elbows in cooking for the first half of the party. That isn’t fun for anyone—especially the hostess. You want to create an environment that is relaxing, and if the hostess is super busy, it is difficult for the guests to relax. Select a menu that you can prep ahead of time as much as possible. Maybe prepare the side dishes the day before or the morning of the event, and then have the main course prepared for grilling. Or, you can have a casserole prepared that just needs to be reheated. Having an easy appetizer planned that you can put out as the meal is being cooked is also a nice distraction. Open a bottle of wine or beverage of choice, and conversation can flow over the first course.
Don’t be afraid of the “potluck”: Since I have been on the receiving end of so many invitations in the past, I know that guests love to bring something! It makes them feel as if they aren’t just a “taker.” So assign them an appetizer, side dish, or dessert. It gives them ownership in the meal and makes them feel more comfortable in accepting your invitation.
Consider your guest list: I see hospitality as a way to get to know others but also a way to serve my church body. As much as I’d prefer to just invite my close friends or (selfishly) people similar to me, I see this as an occasion in which others can get to know each other better in my home. I usually try to invite a family I am really comfortable with, as well as another couple/family that are new, a couple/family I do not connect with very often, or a couple/family I think may connect well with my other guests.
May God bless you in your desire to serve him through showing hospitality. Expect a misstep here and there as you embark on this new endeavor, but know that he will bless your efforts and relationships will deepen as a result. Cheers!