This post is the third in a series on hospitality. Begin the series here.
Last week I talked about how my mother was instrumental in teaching me what hospitality means and why we should practice it. In the coming weeks I’ll share some practical tips on how to demonstrate gracious hospitality. But before we get into the “how to,” there’s one more piece of the foundation that I feel is crucial to truly understanding hospitality. I’ve written about the “what” and the “why”; this is the who. Who gets your hospitality? Who can you bless?
There’s one category of people in particular who should receive your hospitality, but I’m going to stoke your anticipation and save them for the very last! Here are some other ideas of people you should welcome to your home or table.
1. New moms
You’ll have to bring the hospitality right to their doorstep! If you just had a baby, would you want to spend time cooking and meal planning? I can’t say from experience yet, but I’m guessing that I’ll have other things keeping me busy when the time comes. Bring a newly-expanded family a meal, especially a meal that can be frozen for later use, and pack it in containers that they can recycle or keep. Besides meals, here are other ways that you can minister to a new mom.
2. Visiting missionaries/ pastors
Make sure that the visiting pastor filling your pulpit has a place to go for lunch after church! If your church is hosting a missions conference, or if your church’s missionaries are stateside on home assignment, volunteer to keep them overnight, have them over for a meal, or babysit the kids so their parents have some time alone.
3. Out-of-town wedding guests
If you know of a couple in your church who is getting married, offer to host some of their out-of-town guests for a night or two. Several families in our church offered to do this when we got married, and it was a huge blessing to our friends who had already spent money on travel expenses and had little to spare for a hotel stay. In turn, when we were guests at a friend’s wedding last summer, he arranged for us to stay with an amazing family from his church who humbled us with their gracious hospitality and kind friendship.
4. College/exchange students
Oh my goodness, this category of people LOVE home cooked meals! Cafeteria food gets old really fast, and even students who cook for themselves often don’t eat the healthiest or eat meals in front of a computer. When I was a student, I greatly appreciated the people who understood how much college students miss well-rounded meals and interaction with families, not just their peers. The vice-president of my college used to have students over to his house every Sunday night for waffles, and a professor had a standing invitation to anyone who wanted to share pancakes and bacon in his home on Saturday mornings.
5. Church members
Inviting another family in your church over for a meal is one of the best ways to get to know them. My parents invited people over at least once per month for Sunday dinner (lunch). They invited a wide range of people–young couples, good friends we’d known for years, or new families who’d just started attending. In Acts 2:40-47, Luke describes one of the practices of the vibrant church: “and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.” Eating together builds fellowship and unity, and we’re going to be doing it in heaven, too!
Don’t be afraid to invite people over who don’t speak the same language as you do! This form of hospitality is probably the most intimidating, but it will be deeply appreciated by your guests. When you’re not in your home country and you’re facing a language barrier, you can feel incredibly lonely and isolated. I’ve been there and it hurts. I am so, so thankful for the brave people who showed hospitality to my family when we were newly-landed in Costa Rica or in Chile. We were in their country to minister to them, but God taught us that the most nourishing ministry is reciprocal. Look for people in your church, college, seminary, or workplace who are struggling to feel accepted in a new culture, and demonstrate the love of God, even if you can’t express it in words.
7. Now, I mentioned that there is one group of people to whom you owe hospitality above all else. Those people are your own family!
The most genuine hospitality is sincere because it is constant. Genuine hospitality is not the china dishes you dust off for company, it’s the generous and welcoming spirit you display in all your interactions–even the mundane, “required” tasks that you do for your family.
Again, my mother demonstrates this like no one I’ve ever met. She makes her home a haven for her family first, not neglecting them in order to serve others. When Eric and I go home to Meadow Lake for a visit, she treats us like royalty. My mother-in-law does this, too. She goes out of her way to cook the meals we like and free up time in her schedule to be with us. Whether it’s been a month or a year since we’ve seen them, our mothers show us true hospitality by making us feel like we’re home.
True hospitality always does this. It makes the recipient feel like they’re home, even if they are under your roof for only a couple of hours.
Posts in this series:
Part 1: What My Mother Taught Me About Hospitality
Part 2: Why Practice Hospitality?
Part 3: 7 People Who Need Your Hospitality
Part 4: How to Host Guests for a Meal
Part 5: Company Menus for Any Occasion
Part 6: How to Make an Overnight Guest Feel At Home
Part 7: Learn to Say Thank You: How to Accept Gifts Graciously
Other resources on hospitality:
My Hospitality Pinterest board
The Joy of Hospitality series @ Young Wife’s Guide
Hospitality posts @ Intentional By Grace
You will find a whole chapter devoted to hospitality in my cookbook, Real Food for the Real Homemaker!