The question I am asked most often is “what does your ministry look like?” Although there are many components to our approach, hospitality would be central. If you would ask how we make disciples, I would say through the means of hospitality. If you would ask our method for evangelism, again I would answer hospitality.
At my last church we were teaching through the qualifications of an elder, one of which is hospitality. My immediate question was, “If hospitality is a qualification for spiritual leadership, then why was it not part of my pastoral training?” Although we would have said that our church was hospitable, as an elder I had to admit that I knew little of hospitality. I had lived in the same apartment for 10 years with only 6 overnight guests and no dinner guests. (Friends made fun of the fact that I used my oven for storage.)
In contrast, over the past 5 years we have had nearly a thousand overnight guests and even more dinner guests in our Chicago apartment. Our prayer has been “bring the right people to us and keep the wrong people away.” We keep prepared for the unexpected guest, whether for a meal or overnight.
Rachel Davis is a friend in the hospitality industry. She taught me the difference between entertainment and hospitality. Entertainment is about “me” as the host or hostess-how my house looks, the quality of food, how good of a party I can give- whereas hospitality is about others and serving them. As the Father, Son, and Spirit opened up their family at a great sacrifice allowing us to be adopted as children of God, so we can open up our homes to give an experiential demonstration of the love of the God to others. It is hard work. It does take time and cost money, but it is the sacrifice that empowers hospitality to be an illustration of the good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus.