By Annie Yorty, Crosswalk.com
In my youth, no one taught me about hospitality. My family never shared meals with other families. My house was not the cool hangout place for friends. I had no concept of creating a warm, welcoming space for entertaining or fellowship.
I grew into a no-frills kind of adult, so you’ll never find me flipping through home magazines searching for “just the right” decorating tips and party ideas. Between a lack of training and my practical personality, I will never be known as “the hostess with the mostest.”
But I do love people. I enjoy the company of friends. More importantly, I believe God created us for fellowship so we can build up one another and glorify Him. He also gives us resources to use for the holy calling of Christian hospitality—our home, finances, time, and love.
If you, like me, feel daunted by the idea of hospitality and are looking for easy-to-implement suggestions to engage with brothers and sisters in Christ, I offer the following list to get you started. If you are blessed with the social graces I lack, I hope you can embellish and improve upon my simple ideas.
Food, Fun, and Fellowship
When I first became a Christian, I was amazed by what I call the three F’s—food, fun, and fellowship—of Christian hospitality. That’s why I organized my list into those three sections. Within each category, which often overlap, you will find tips to accommodate tight budgets and busy schedules.
In every culture and generation, food creates a gathering point for connection. We see from the earliest times recorded in Genesis and other historical literature that hospitality often involves the provision of food. Jesus, Himself, built relationships around meals. As we meet at the dinner table, conversation flourishes. Friendships emerge and grow.
I’m not suggesting you must plan elaborate dinner parties. Of course, If that’s your thing, go for it. But if that’s not your forte, keep it simple. Below are some fun ways to share hospitality around food that can be adapted for any size home or budget. By keeping it uncomplicated, you reserve time and energy to focus on the relationship rather than the work.
Share a meal with another family once a week.
- Pick a day of the week where the evening mealtime is more relaxed and unhurried.
- Come up with four easy food plans that you can regularly rotate.
- Keep your pantry stocked with the staples for these meals.
- Stock up on paper products to avoid extra clean-up time.
- At the beginning of the month, call the families you’d like to invite and schedule their visits.
- If your friends have young children, provide a movie or game they can play while the adults linger at the dinner table.
Crockpot or casserole pasta meal with a tossed salad and cookies.
Pizza (homemade, frozen, fresh, or delivery) with fresh fruit and dessert.
Soup and salad with French bread and dessert.
Taco bar with nacho chips and salsa.
Host a once-a-month potluck meal with friends:
- Plan a menu using the suggested ideas below.
- Invite as many or as few friends as you wish to accommodate.
- Ask guests to bring one or two sides.
- You provide the plates and utensils as well as drinks.
Picnic—You provide hotdogs or pulled pork. Guests bring salads, baked beans, and fruit.
Chef’s salad—You provide lettuce, dressing, and dessert. Guests bring assorted toppings.
Pizza Bake-off—You provide the dough (ingredients or premade), sauce, and cheese. Guests bring favorite toppings and dessert. Make the pizzas together.
Dessert Smorgasbord—You provide coffee, tea, and ice cream. Guests bring dessert.
Appetizers Only—You provide an appetizer and dessert. Guests bring additional appetizers.
Fondue Extravaganza—You provide several types of sauces and skewers. Guests bring sweet and savory foods to dip.
“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Prov 17:22 NASB). Jesus said His followers would have trouble in this world, but that doesn’t mean Christians shouldn’t have fun. On the contrary, Christians have a Holy Spirit inspired unity that deepens our joy and delight in life.
While we don’t want to neglect deeper conversations, it’s okay to laugh together over the lighter parts of life. Consider adding one or more of these fun hospitality ideas to your life together in God’s family. Most of these activities can be adjusted for any age.
Create a shared interest group.
- Keep the number of people to a manageable size that doesn’t create stress for you.
- Offer a simple drink and snack at each meeting or rotate the snack duty among the guests.
- Clear a table or space for the activity.
- Usually, each guest brings their supplies, but you might provide the games or craft tools.
Board or card games, book club, Legos, crafts, scrapbooking, cooking, play music together, kids' playgroup. You could even host occasional movie nights:
- Pick an uplifting movie on DVD or a streaming service.
- Make some popcorn and lemonade to offer to guests. You could also supply movie candy or ask a guest to bring candy to share.
- Throw out some blankets and pillows for the kids to sprawl on the floor.
- If you have a projector for your computer, hang up a white sheet outside on a nice summer evening and watch the movie under the stars.
Meet up for outdoor music events at a local park:
- Check the community schedule for free or low-cost events.
- Designate a meeting place.
- Grab your blankets and lawn chairs and show up at the same time.
Gather around a campfire for s’mores and singing:
- If you have a fire pit, you could do this at your home on any nice evening. If not, you could gather at a local park where fires are permitted.
- You’ll need to supply marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate, and long forks or sticks for roasting.
- Ask guests to bring lawn chairs if you don’t have enough.
- If someone you know plays the guitar, ask them to bring it. Otherwise, you can create a playlist of campfire songs on your phone.
Enjoy a nature scavenger hunt:
- Make a list of nature sightings you might find at your local park.
- Divide your group into teams who will search together.
- Each team uses a phone to take pictures of their finds.
- Set a time limit and a final meeting place to compare pictures.
- For more fun for a teenage crowd, add a physical challenge for each item they find. For example, everyone in the group must stand on their head in front of the rose bush.
“Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:10-11 NLT). Paul’s words point us to a divine reason for our fellowship. Christ died for us. Our Christian fellowship should prepare us for His return.
Christian fellowship is friendship among followers of Jesus that encourages, edifies, and builds up. What are we to build up to? We are to help one another become more holy, more Christlike. In fellowship, we persevere together to share the good news of Jesus with the world.
Hospitality and Christian fellowship go hand in hand. Naturally, the ideas for gathering around food and fun will include fellowship. But we can also use our hospitality resources in practical ways to target the ministry of fellowship specifically. Do not feel intimidated because you aren’t a Bible scholar. There are many excellent online resources for Bible reading plans or Bible studies.
Host a regular small discipleship group:
- Choose a target group (all women, all men, or mixed).
- If you have young children, share the cost of hiring a teen to occupy them while you meet.
- Pray this prayer together: “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3 NASB).
- Pray for one another’s needs.
- Read the Bible together and discuss what the passage says about God’s character and principles, what it explains about people, and what you should do with your new understanding.
- Work through a Bible study together.
- Dive deeper into the sermon from your church by looking up cross-references and discussing application.
- Confidentially discuss your struggles and praises and hold one another accountable for growth.
- Sing worship songs together.
Bible study resources:
Invite visiting missionaries to stay in your home:
- Let your church leaders know your home is available.
- If possible, provide transportation as needed.
- When the opportunity arises, enjoy getting to know more about their ministry. If you have children, it’s a wonderful opportunity for them to be exposed to other cultures and global missions.
Work on service projects together: Choose a home-based project or venture out to a community organization that needs volunteers.
Visit shut-ins at nursing homes
Help elderly or disabled with yard work
Find Your Niche
No one can do all these ideas. But everyone can do some. If God has given you love in your heart as well as some resources (and He has), then I hope you are inspired to steward these gifts into acts of hospitality. I suggest you begin by trying just one idea that appeals to you and see how God uses it to benefit your Christian community.
And the benefits are enormous. When we come together as the family of God, we encourage spiritual growth and day-to-day perseverance through the muck of life. We see how God provides support to us through other people. But Jesus gave an even higher purpose as He spoke to His disciples right before He died on the cross.
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:34-35 NLT).
Using your gift of hospitality shines the warmth and love of Jesus to a watching world. So throw open your heart and doors to the hospitality of food, fun, and fellowship in Christ.