Church Hospitality

hospitality-family-2Some time ago a sweet friend and pastor’s wife asked me if I had any ideas for church hospitality. I’ve thought about it. What is it? Is it wanted? Is it effective?

The best church hospitality I ever experienced was about 30 plus years ago. My husband and infant son and I were looking for a church to attend on a regular basis. We were good candidates for church hospitality. Some people just want to come, take a look, experience, and decide if it’s for them or not. They don’t want attention, they want anonymity–especially if the church isn’t really what they’re looking for. For these folk, a pen, a cup, whatever, is all the “hospitality” they will feel comfortable with.

On our first Sunday morning at the church we visited, we were greeted by most members who passed us. These people were friendly. Their comments and questions seemed sincere and kind. After the service we were invited to come home with a family and share their Sunday meal. They weren’t on a hospitality committee. Their home, car and furniture were serviceable, their food was simple and tasty; but their real wealth was in their children–they had about a dozen of them. To accommodate our spur of the moment presence in their home, they added saw horses and plywood to the table, opened a few more food items to add to the menu, so if one item didn’t make it all the way around, there was still plenty to choose from. We sat in the living room and chatted with some of the family members, getting to know them, while others busily prepared for our addition to their table. We had a wonderful time with these very real people who opened their home to us and allowed us to see them in an unprepared state. We felt at home, welcome, wanted, and inspired to emulate.

For several Sundays in a row we were invited to various homes. Some were finished homes, simple yet inviting. One was unfinished, perhaps had been for some time. In some homes things were a bit worn but cared for and clean enough. What we remember 30 plus years later is that we were welcome, wanted, valued for who we were. For some reason we were important to these people, and it really showed. We attended that church until our circumstances changed and we moved on.