When we first moved to Texas, I knew one family. I remember the first couple of weeks being very lonely. When we found a church we had to work hard to get to know friends because the church was large and the only way to do that was to have people over. Hospitality became a passion of mine and a very regular and important part of our lives.
Moms need it most
I won’t go into the common excuses for not practicing hospitality. There are many books and blog posts that touch on that. Instead I want to explain why it’s so vital that moms (and/or dads) prioritize hospitality.
It builds friendships. We are all so busy these days, jumping from one thing to the next. Even at church, it’s difficult to have a good conversation with people (or maybe that’s just me). But I have found that when we have someone over, I don’t feel as rushed to finish a conversation and am not distracted by everything going on around me. Furthermore, when we lived in Texas and attended a large church, having friends over for dinner was pretty much the only way we got to visit with them. By having that one on one time with another family, you get to talk longer and go deeper into conversation, building deep and meaningful friendships.
It sets and example. Children learn by example. They watch what you do and develop values by learning what you value. By prioritizing hospitality, you show them that people are more important than activities or things and demonstrate how one can love his neighbor.
It bears witness. As Christians, are called to preach the Good News to all creation (Mark 16:15). One way you can do that is by having people, unbelievers, into your home. Anyone who has served in overseas missions can tell you that the most effective form of ministry was the ministry of hospitality because other cultures are much more relationship oriented. What better way to point others to Christ than to have them in a home where prayer happens before a meal, and where God is evident in everything from decorations to conversations?
It’s not what you think
I can hear you saying you want to do this but don’t know how, you don’t have time, you’re too busy, etc. But allow me to present a few different ways moms, even moms with littles, can practice hospitality.
- Open your door. This is the most common form of hospitality. Inviting people into your home for dinner and games or conversation. Again, there are myriads of articles and books on this topic so I won’t dive to deeply into it. But keep in mind that you can do this no matter your living situation. I have had two different occasions where we invited visitors to our church over for lunch after service and our house was a WRECK. and when I say wreck I mean ALL of Saturdays dishes were piled high in the sink, laundry was still hanging in plain sight (I did grab and hide it before the guests came in.) In short, my house was not guest ready. But we got to love to different families and that was all that mattered.
- Bring meals. A synonym for hospitality is helpfulness and nothing is more helpful to someone then having a warm meal that they didn’t have to cook. Many churches provide meal trains for moms who just had a baby or for someone who is ill or recovering from surgery. If you know someone who could use an extra meal and have ingredients on hand for a casserole, offer to bring it. I’m certain it will be gratefully received.
- Meet somewhere. I loved getting together with my mommy friends at a park. The kids could be as loud as they want and not make a huge mess while we talked. We were being sociable (which is another synonym for hospitality by the way). Make a play date with a mom. Or a coffee date without the kids if possible. I firmly believe where there is kindness, there is hospitality.
- Open your mouth. Does your church provide times of fellowship? Are you there early? What do you do during these times? Du you stay home from the fellowship time or sit on your phone during the greeting time? May I gently encourage you to participate in these types of events. One of the most common reasons people give for not choosing a specific church it they didn’t feel welcome. My friends this shouldn’t be. That’s like going to a family event and not talking to your brother. I know it’s scary to begin a conversation with someone you don’t know but hear me out. If it wasn’t for the compassion and bravery of one woman at our church in Texas, it would have taken us a lot longer to get plugged in and make friends. She could see I was new to the church and overwhelmed. (I was very pregnant, very emotional, and all alone because Paul S. had to work Sunday mornings). And during music, she gently touched my shoulder to comfort me. This opened the door to a conversation with her that lead to and introduction to the couple who run the young marrieds ministry, where we made many friends. All because one person initiated a conversation (opened her mouth) with a complete stranger.
A gift and a command
Many refer to hospitality as a gift. You either have it or you don’t. And while it’s true that some are more outgoing than others, we are commanded to practice hospitality to those we know and those we don’t.
Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
I will only give one specific example of who showed hospitality and how: Our own Savior, Jesus. Even without a home of his own, He talked with people, by the thousands. He cared for people, healing them of various ailments. He fed people. All without a pillow for his own head. What if we showed that kind of kindness, helpfulness, sociability, and generosity. What if we showed that kind of hospitality?