Tag Archives: Hospitality

Removal of Intimidation and Fear

Removal of Intimidation and Fear

Walking in for the first time, anxiety can quickly sweep over you. Your breath quickens, your heart races, and you keep your head down so as to not make eye contact with anyone.

This is how I enter new places. Before I go anywhere new I look them up online. I want to see the place before I ever go near it. I want to become familiar with the surroundings, the products, the food, the expectations—anything I can to feel comfortable and informed when I walk in for the first time.

But all the research in the world doesn’t take away every hint of fear. When I arrive I become dependent on a greeter, a clerk, a waitress, a host to point me in the right direction, to give me the next step in a line of expectations.

When I was in seminary in Canada, there were subtle differences I learned about the culture of my new town that often caught me off guard. My new town in the remote prairies of Saskatchewan took their shoes off EVERYWHERE. It was the strangest thing.  Even a trip to the chiropractor involved taking your shoes off at the door and placing them on a little rack. You would enter the office in your socks. In the summer if you were wearing flip flops, you would remember to bring a pair of socks so that you wouldn’t enter barefoot. I was happy to go places with my new seminary friends who could point out these things to me. I could have insulted many had I not known! I definitely was not prepared for the small confrontations when I missed subtle social cues like the shoe removals. I wrongly entered many places with my shoes on to the horror of any onlookers.

At one of my very first visits to a house in Canada, my worship professor who had spent time in U.S., showed me the best possible hospitality I can remember. I entered their house and they quickly pointed out the next steps: “You can hang your coat here. Shoes can be placed over here. If you need a pair of socks, we have some extras right here. When you’re all done, we’re gathering in the living room. Just find a spot on the couches and we’ll start with some light conversation before dinner.”

Their directions weren’t given in a military state of ‘do this and do that,’ but just a gentle guide to help me find comfort in their home. With a few opening comments, I knew what was expected of me.

As an introvert (and in case you didn’t know this about me, I score about as far over on the introvert scale as possible!) these kind directions removed a great deal of fear from my visit to their home. I was welcomed, received, and informed.

Every Sunday we have the possibility of welcoming, receiving and informing others in our midst. We do this because God has extended us the same invitation: We are welcome in His house, we are received in gentleness, and His Word makes it clear what expectations He has of us. At first God seems intimidating, but as we get to know Him, that intimidation is removed and comfort replaces it.

But what a big hurtle fear can be in the process! But as God has welcomed us, we get the supreme privilege of welcoming others in His name.

Leah Carolan
Director of Worship & Media

 

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God Can Use Cinnamon Rolls for His Glory

God Can Use Cinnamon Rolls for His Glory

What does hospitality mean to you? Does it mean a spotless home, a perfectly set table, and great food? Scripture has a different approach to hospitality – it’s not that cleaning and preparing our homes for guests and presenting a nice meal is not part of it. It is just that hospitality in scripture is really a means to an end. Opening the doors of our homes in hospitality is the means to invite people into our lives and hearts. Sharing a loaf of bread with others across the dining table creates opportunities to share the Bread of Life with them. If scrubbing and cleaning our homes becomes our focus, we might miss sharing the mess and dirtiness of our lives with others. If our greatest concern is wondering how a group of people will fit into our home, we may miss the opportunity to make room in our hearts for others. If we worry about making the perfect meal, we may miss sharing the only food that satisfies. If what we are doing in our hospitality interferes with people being encouraged to walk with God, then we are not engaged in Biblical hospitality. God is more interested in caring relationships than the dust behind the couch!

I love the verses in Hebrews 13:1-2. “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” God may be using you to bring someone to His table. Jesus was a wonderful model of hospitality – sharing food with his disciples and serving them as he taught them to care for others.

There are times when you walk into our church or my home and you smell warm cinnamon rolls baking – they smell good – they taste good – and they are a temptation to all weight watchers! But this act of hospitality is so much more – it says “welcome” to a neighbor, friend, church, wedding party, and anyone else who walks through our doors. We will never know when one of these rolls opens the opportunity to share the goodness of God and His love.

Our homes and our lives are indeed the most powerful combination of ministry to our world so don’t be afraid to share God’s love through hospitality. The next time you open your doors to others pray that your heart will magnify Christ in hospitality and point your guests to the only and everlasting meal that will truly fill their souls.

Diane Potter
Hospitality Expert

 

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Welcoming the Stranger

Welcoming the Stranger

Ladies, do you need a spa day? Do you need to be welcomed, listened to, and treated kindly? Does your soul need some tender loving care?

For Christmas my grandma bought me a spa facial and recommended that I use Paula at Elevate Salon by Westdale. Let me tell you about experiencing Paula’s hospitality.

Paula greeted me at the door with a smile and a great spirit. She asked me about myself and my day and listened to what I had to say. I knew she was listening because she followed up with questions about what I had said. She took me to a calm and quiet room where I was able to get comfortable. Once settled in, she described the process of the facial and asked what my preferences were. The facial was a wonderful experience, after which, she offered me a cool drink.

When I left the spa, I felt a sense of gratitude for her hospitality. What she had offered me was not something you could buy. Her bright spirit made me feel welcomed and safe. Paula showed me a great example of hospitality. She welcomed me, a stranger, into her life for an hour.

We have the privilege of doing this for others. We can invite strangers into our lives and homes and treat them like friends. If this idea sends panic to your heart, here’s a reminder that it’s not about entertaining. It’s not about impressing someone with perfect house décor, ‘Martha Stewart style’ meals, or well-mannered children. Entertainment is a focus on self (on the home, on my kids’ behavior, on me). Entertainment says, “Look at me and my things.”

Hospitality, however, is an ability to focus on others. Hospitality is a way of saying, “There you are, I’ve been waiting for you.” Welcoming people into my home, offering them a tall glass of something hot or cold, and listening to them is the best gift my family and I can give to a weary soul. And every soul is weary at times.

My husband and I were reminded of this recently when we invited someone into our home. After eating and drinking and being cared for, he shared some legal challenges he was facing. He felt much shame around this issue and that made him want to keep his situation a secret. But in our home, with our care, he felt comfortable sharing his challenges with us. And when you’re able to speak your shame out loud, you force the shame to shrink. My husband and I offered this young man a gift. The gift of someone who listens and cares. And, here’s the secret to moving in the direction of hospitality. It’s not just the stranger that benefits from hospitality. Offering hospitality to others creates joy in the heart of the giver.

Lindsey Ungs
Connection & Communication Architect

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Just a Thought

Just a Thought

As I write this article I am praying for Max, as he is fighting a cancer diagnosis. I very much consider Max to be a father in the faith. I first met Max, and his wife Peggy, at Berean Baptist Church’s college Sunday School class. They were the teachers and Peggy always made sure we had homemade breakfast. I chose to attend this church during college for two main reasons: I could walk there easily from my dorm, and FREE HOMEMADE BREAKFAST! While the hospitality of breakfast may have drawn me to Max, and Berean Baptist Church, I soon discovered a much more fulfilling and transformative hospitality. Max offered to share more than just a meal, or Sunday mornings with me, but he shared his self-control. What? Can you really share self-control?  Max asked me once, “What do you need from me?” As we talked I shared that I wanted a daily “quiet time” with God. I knew that this would be a key to spiritual growth, but I didn’t have the self-control needed to be faithful. So Max proposed a strategy he humbly named “Just a thought…” He invited me into his personal time with Jesus, a part of that intimate time studying God’s Word. Each day at 4am, Max would get up and do his own daily “quiet time.” Then, Max would write me a “Just a Thought” email containing a Bible passage, devotional material, and some reflection/application questions. My commitment, to redeem the time Max was sacrificing daily, was to read each email, read God’s word, and write a reply. In this way Max’s self-control and dedication were reckoned to me by this accountability. I couldn’t have defined it like this 15 years ago, but as I look back, Max was sharing not only his faith, but specifically the fruit of self-control with me.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

When I ran into Max a few years ago God had called him to pastor a church in Prairie City. Max continues to write “Just a thought…”, and now has over a hundred people (from several countries) following that devotional. God transformed my life through His Spirit, and Max’s generous heart. God has grown Max’s faith and influence as a result of his faithfulness to show me generous hospitality. This is a testimony to the power of the Body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:7 says, “A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good.”

God put you and me in His Body and He equipped us with “the Spirit” for “the common good”.  Max’s example challenges us to change our paradigm of church. Maybe it’s NOT, ‘What did I get out of it?’ but, ‘How did I generously bless someone else today?’  Radical hospitality is sharing our blessings with one another for the “common good!”  Just a thought…

Steve Poole
Director of Youth & Young Adults

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Hospitality – Yes You Can!

Hospitality – Yes You Can!

My material grandmother was the classic depiction of hospitality. She served in the kitchen at all the church gatherings. She sent care packages to distant relatives in Germany in the late 1940’s, after World War II. Her holiday gatherings were spectacular, and she always had some kind of cake or cookies ready, in case someone stopped by to visit. Don’t get me wrong, she loved doing this for Jesus, but she seemed to come by it pretty easily. “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality” (Romans 12:13) just came to her naturally.

My father’s family was very poor. I remember hearing stories about dad and his siblings picking up coals by the railroad tracks to help heat the house in winter, and I was reminded many times how they hunted for game to help feed the family. When I was home from college in the summers, I worked at a gas station/convenience store that was very near to the neighborhood where my father was raised. There were many regular customers, who upon hearing my last name, and affirming who my grandparents were, went on to say what loving people they were. One person mentioned that he lived in a very troubled household, and he spent many nights at my grandparent’s home. He fondly described how they fed and sheltered him. What an example of the Bible saying, “Is this not the fast which I chose …Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house” (Isaiah 58:6-7).

My mother was the complete opposite of her mother. We never had company in our home. Mom would get extremely anxious if a relative, fellow church member, or stranger showed up at our door. Our house was a complete mess with four wild boys running around but, me and my brother’s friends adored my mom. She would bring Kool-Aid to a whole group of boys playing in the backyard. She would listen to all of the ridiculous stories that little boys and teenage young men tell. She would pack way too many kids into one vehicle for rides home from school or a trip to the movies. I remember multiple testimonies at my mother’s funeral that both friends and family shared about her kindness. No, she was not her mother, but she did, without ever recognizing it, show hospitality motivated by love.

My dad also left a different legacy of hospitality. Years after his passing, an old school mate reminded me about the multiple hours that my dad spent in our home helping this friend memorize Bible verses for the Awana program. This young man went on to receive the Meritorious Award, which was the program’s highest recognition. He is now an Elder and full-time Music Minister at his church. Another classmate and friend, who my dad drove to and from football practice and games since our early Junior Tackle days (5th grade) through high school, approached me at our 35th High School Reunion, and said, “Sager, when my mom told me about your dad’s passing years ago, it hurt. Man, he was a good dude.” Multiple, seemingly insignificant steps can lead to great impact.

There is a common misconception that before practicing hospitality, one needs to be gifted in entertaining, cooking, and home decoration. Because of this misconception, many of us have bought the lie that hospitality is beyond our capacity. Initially, I was going to just share stories about my grandparents. I was actually planning on stating that my parents weren’t great at hospitality, but then God convicted me.

Jesus knew that one of the greatest keys to a person’s heart is by showing them kindness, which is a form of hospitality motivated by love. Think about it: What person, aside from your immediate family, has had a great influence in your life? Can you name your favorite primary school teacher? What’s the best thing anyone ever did for you? If you can tie back any of your answers to these questions to some form of kindness displayed to you, there are high chances that you were shown a biblical form of hospitality. My guess is that these acts of hospitality weren’t glamorous, but they were born out of love.

The great thing about kindness and hospitality is that anyone can demonstrate them.  In fact, I bet that you do demonstrate kindness frequently. My encouragement is to do it more, and do it with intentionality. This is love in action. “Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

Gary Sager
Ambassador of Care

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Modeling Hospitality to Children

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.

Cathy Poole
Children’s Ministry

 

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Confession: My Home is My Castle

Confession: My Home is My Castle

The values we hold as a congregation are both true and aspirational. This means that we see the values lived out, but we also have a long way to go. Recently while discussing our value of hospitality with Mary I confessed, “We could welcome more people into our home if I did not resist the idea so much.”

Mary, being a great wife, encouraged me and corrected me, “We have people over a lot. Last night we had people over.”

“Yes,” I agreed, “BUT I usually think of our home as a castle. A Sanctuary. I prefer keeping people out, not inviting them in.”

Apparently, I am not alone in this. A fascinating blog entitled “Better than Starbucks” pointed out that Americans prefer anonymous individuality over connected communities. Two observations from this blog.

First: We’ve grown to love non-places—airports, shopping malls, and chain restaurants that often lack true human connection… We are users of these places, autonomous and separate from them. We can step in and out without anyone noticing.

Second: The irony is that the non-places to which we flee only alienate us further from the relationships and institutions that are so crucial to forming our identity and giving us meaning and fulfillment.

Hospitality invites people to step in and be noticed so that anonymity turns into connection. We can be hospitable, even if we prefer not to, by simply making space to grow into the richness of real relationships. The best place might be in your own home.

Here is the link to the actual blog. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/better-than-starbucks/

Kent Landhuis
Pastor of Teaching & Leadership

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