This post is written by contributing writer, Jane from Devoted SONriser.
If you’re anything like me, you want to start practicing hospitality so that you can develop deeper friendships. But . . .
You’re also completely intimidated by the idea of hospitality.
That is, the idea that you have to:
- Get your house fixed up perfectly.
- Have extra money to blow.
- Be able to cook an awesome meal.
- Wait for Christmas or the Fourth of July to come along.
- Wait for your schedule to clear up and be stress-free.
Let’s just stop right there.
That list of expectations may seem silly to some of you, as it should. Nevertheless, many of us get stuck believing that these are things we have to be able to do in order to extend hospitality.
Thankfully for all of us, these expectations are myths.
Not only are these preconceived notions about what hospitality has to look like false, they can also be extremely harmful to the Church, because they can prevent us from extending fellowship and sincere love to each other.
Take a look at these five common myths about hospitality and consider if any of them have been keeping you from serving others through hospitality.
Myth #1: You have to have a perfect home to practice hospitality.
Ah, the perfect home myth.
We’ve all seen and pinned those pictures of perfect homes.
They’re spotless, they’re color-coordinated, and they have plenty of plush, comfortable furniture.
But what if you’re like me and your home is not spotless or color-coordinated, and you don’t have very comfortable furniture?
We might look at our homes and think, “This is embarrassing. This is not good enough for company. Hospitality is going to have to wait until I can buy a new living room set.”
But the truth is, your home doesn’t have to look like it came out of a magazine for you to practice hospitality.
Sure, it might not sound fun to let people see our imperfections. It’s humbling and it makes us a little vulnerable, but hear me out: Letting down your guard might not be such a bad thing.
You see, vulnerability is an icebreaker when it comes to building friendships.
When you let people see your imperfections, it can make them more at ease around you and helps you focus on serving them rather than just trying to impress them (which is a little prideful).
True hospitality is about serving others, thinking of them more than yourself, and making them comfortable. Not necessarily the plush furniture type of comfort–but the kind that makes a person feel comfortable and welcomed in your presence.
Myth #2: Practicing hospitality is expensive.
Another myth that can keep us from serving is the idea that hospitality requires a lot of extra money.
First, there’s the food misconception: “Everyone expects pizza. We have to order pizza.”
Then, there’s the question of entertainment: “Honey, I think we need a grill for our hospitality this summer . . . And some patio furniture . . . And a pool . . . Make that a new deck with a pool . . .”
While it’s true that hospitality can be expensive (if you go all out), it certainly doesn’t have to be!
Cheap Hospitality Food
If you’re handy in the kitchen, you could make your own homemade pizza for a fraction of what it would cost for delivery.
Other cheap meal solutions include:
- breakfast for dinner
- spaghetti and meatballs
- chicken rice casserole
- BBQ sandwiches
- hot dogs
- crockpot BBQ meatballs
- homemade macaroni and cheese
- chicken tacos
- or just start your party later and serve coffee and desserts (these chocolate applesauce bars are amazing!)
Cheap, Fun Entertainment Ideas
As far as cheap entertainment goes, you can’t beat party games. You can go and buy a new game, which will soon pay for itself in entertainment, or just ask your guests to bring whatever games they have already. Taboo, Apples to Apples, and Would You Rather . . . ? are real crowd-pleasers as well as mystery games likes Crack the Case (which is my personal favorite!).
Also, when it comes to entertainment, think of the things that you already have available. Do you have a big yard in the country? You could have a bonfire and roast marshmallows. Do you have a big T.V. with plenty of couch space? Invite a few couples over to watch a movie and make homemade popcorn.
With just a little brainstorming, you could have a long list of fun, cheap hospitality ideas in no time!
Myth #3: If you can’t cook, you can’t show hospitality.
“But I can’t cook to save my life!” you might object.
If that’s you, take heart. Showing hospitality is not about showing off your amazing cooking skills. Food is just a detail anyway. The real goal of hospitality is about building relationships, remember?
So, if you’re not comfortable cooking–and if cooking might distract you from building relationships–then maybe you need to order that pizza . . . or pick up that bucket of chicken . . . or avoid meal times altogether! Who said hospitality has to involve food?
Some non-food hospitality ideas:
- write a letter or call an old friend
- invite people over to work on a craft or project (think scrapbooking or gingerbread house party)
- play flag football
- go for a walk
- play games
- visit someone who is sick or in the hospital
- do a clothes swap or a toy swap, if you have kids
- just chat
- start a Bible study in your home
The list is truly endless! Don’t forget to check out one of Leigh Ann’s 20 ways to be intentional in your neighborhood!
Remember that people aren’t coming over just for your food, they’re coming over to connect with you.
Myth #4: You have to be celebrating a holiday.
“But Christmas is still six months away.” That’s another popular misconception about hospitality.
I know that it sometimes feels less awkward to invite people over for a Christmas party or a birthday party or for the Fourth of July, but you don’t have to wait for the next holiday to arrive to invite people over!
One of my favorite memories of receiving hospitality is when the entire college group would go over to a couple’s house every Wednesday night after church to play card games. There was no reason for doing this other than to hang out and fellowship with each other, and it quickly became a weekly tradition.
Someday, I’d like my home to be known as the place where people feel welcome to come regularly and fellowship with each other.
A place where my friends can come for a cup of coffee and a long chat whenever they need one.
A place where my kid’s friends can come over anytime.
No holiday or reason necessary–just friendship.
Myth #5: You have to be in the right season of life to extend hospitality.
This is the excuse that I’ve used a lot: “I’m not in the right season of life to be offering hospitality.”
I’m new in town or this church or this job. I don’t know very many people who I could even invite over.
Some of you might have young children, or you may work long hours during the week, or you might be super stressed out right now.
You might be thinking, “I’ll have more time for hospitality a few months from now.”
Be careful, because months can quickly turn into years and years can quickly turn into never.
If we just keep putting hospitality off for a better season, that better season may never come.
And the truth is, we all desperately need fellowship with other Christians in every season, especially in the harder seasons. Don’t just try to go it alone and deprive yourself of Christian support during those times.
What’s the point of hospitality?
“This is how God showed His love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” ~1 John 4:9-12
As Christians, fellowship and extending hospitality is one major way that we can love each other and share the grace and sacrifice that God has so freely extended to us.
Don’t let these myths about hospitality stop you from serving, loving, and connecting with others.
Trust me, hospitality isn’t about being perfect and doing everything “just right.”
Ultimately, hospitality is about love.