Modeling Hospitality to Children
Hospitality. Generous treatment of guests or strangers. Housing visitors. Companionship. Cordial. Friendliness. Warmth. Welcome. My thoughts on hospitality have changed over the years. I began adulthood thinking it only meant having strangers in my house or preparing a three-course, top-of-the-line meal for others. How limiting! Through a women’s Bible study I learned hospitality also encompasses inviting others over (even though I haven’t cleaned in a week), sharing a simple frozen pizza, attending a park playdate, grabbing coffee with a teen, sending a note in the mail, delivering fresh cookies, remembering a birthday with a flower. However, I was shocked one day when a seasoned Momma shared that hospitality also includes your family, even your very own children. My mind was blown (lightbulb!).
She quickly explained, after seeing my utter confusion. “We need to show hospitality to our children. Take church service, for instance,” she continued. “I bet you think you go to church so you can relax, listen to the sermon, sing a praise song and be renewed for your week. But what if I told you, you should show hospitality to your children every time you usher them into a worship service?”
Still confused… Not going to lie.
“Jesus showed us companionship, warmth and welcome by teaching us about faith, traditions and scripture. He shows us generous treatment by forgiving our sins. As parents, we’re called to do the same thing. With real skin on, this hospitality for our children begins to look like us narrating and guiding them through the worship service, explaining the different parts, explaining why we worship, take communion, listen to scripture and on and on. It looks like dancing with them during worship time. With older kids, it can mean teaching them to take notes about the sermon. With younger kids, perhaps it looks like drawing a picture about something they hear during church. With the tiny ones, it means cuddling them close on your lap (of course, with a good snack) and reading a kids book about a Bible story.”
My thinking started to change. This seemed radical, but also so very true. Not limiting. Maybe, just maybe, attending a church service while raising kids isn’t all about me hearing every word preached. Maybe it’s about helping my children feel welcomed into God’s house. Maybe it’s about helping my children experience Jesus’ hospitality.