Features & Articles - Church & Church Planting

Article Search

My House and Hospitality by Mike Jentes

"You guys are so busy!" they say as they stand in our dining room when the doorbell rings again.

When people make that comment, I have often replied, "Yes, we have people in our home everyday-people from thequest, from the neighborhood, new people, whoever. We have someone in our home everyday." Then the reply is normally, "I don't know how you can do that."

We open our home for guests to stay the night, for meetings, for meals, for childcare, for people to drop by for a cup of coffee or as a safe place. This is hospitality. Welcoming others to be at home in our home. Hospitality is something that happens in homes-around meals, in overnight stays and in providing living space for others.

This article is an attempt at explaining how my lovely wife, children and myself can practice hospitality everyday. The reasons are wide and sometimes circular. But let me share with you a collection of reasons why we do it: authenticity, obedience, giftedness, necessity, philosophy, theology, and modeling.

Authenticity

I have often heard it said that the easiest place to be spiritual is in the pulpit. That may be true, but on the flip side, my home is the toughest place for me to be spiritual. It is where the kids drive me crazy, where my attitude can run unchecked, where I can hid my "pet" sins, and where God really wants me to be a man after His own heart. It is the hardest place, and the most important place for my faith to be exposed-to my wife, my kids and my guests. I want to be real in my walk with Jesus...so opening our home makes us be real. Wouldn't it make an impact on some people to see and live out how you follow Jesus every day?

We have learned a lot by allowing so much exposure to our lives. The first is not to fake it. If guests are in your home only occasionally, it is easy to "be on your best behavior" for those times. By constantly opening up our lives, we have learned integrity-to be the same with people all the time. The second thing we have learned is to relax. We used to stress ourselves out making the house look pristine every time people were coming by. We have a much more kicked back demeanor now. Our house is comfortable and picking up still happens, but we aren't as worried about this stuff as we used to be-because people know us for who we are. It's a lifestyle that our four children have caught as well.

 

Obedience

We want to obey our Lord. That means He wants-all of me and all of my stuff (it's His anyway!). He lays claim to our house, our seemingly "personal" space. So we obey him by giving back our space-our house to Him. Jesus being King of my world means He is King of my house too.

As we looked to purchase a house recently[i], in solitude I went to walk around that property. The term "Beth-El" kept emerging in my thoughts and musings with the Lord while I was there. In Hebrew, Beth-El means "house of God."[ii] That's what God wants for our homes...to be His house.

 

Giftedness

Ha, I fooled me. I have heard so much talk about people being gifted in hospitality, that I believed it. I went back to the Scripture, and I can't find where it delineates a unique gift of hospitality. Never the less, my wife and I have a leaning towards opening our homes to others-whether that is a spiritual gift or not, we'll let God decide. We like having people in our home.

I do know this about hospitality--as one who is a part of the leadership of the local church, the Scripture requires us to practice hospitality! Both lists of elder traits (in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:8) reveal that hospitality is a part of leading the local church! If we take the Scripture seriously, it is imperative that we open our dinner tables and our homes to others.

 

Necessity

We have people in our home out of necessity as well. We are planting churches here in the city. I don't know if you have priced church buildings recently...but WHEW are things expensive! I think back to our Grace Brethren forefathers at the beginning of the movement. Listen to this description of how they did it throughout the 1700's:

"Brethren tended to settle near other members...soon after a settlement was established, meetings for religious service began in their homes...because church buildings, elaborate organizations and salaried leadership were not essential in the Brethren understanding of the Christian faith, this form of congregational life was well adapted to the frontier situation. It was not until 1770 that the first Brethren meetinghouse was constructed in Germantown (PA)."[iii]

Out of necessity, our forefathers met in their homes for decades[iv]. Our situation is different, urban rather than frontier, but the need to meet and gather people is still important as it was several centuries ago.

For us, we use our home for ministry out of necessity. As a corollary to this, I think as we Christians live more and more on mission, we will see the necessity of using our homes for God's work more and more. We will have to practice hospitality because we will be out on the front edge of mission. Ask some of our missionaries in expensive cities around the world-San Francisco, Chicago, New York City, London, Berlin, Paris-they must practice hospitality because that is all they can afford to do.

 

Philosophy

First let me say, by philosophy I mean a philosophy of ministry. Our philosophy of ministry is to be missionary and to do church in such a way that it can be done anywhere on the globe. Well, this philosophy requires that we do things simply. We know that not every nation in the world can have church buildings, but homes are always welcome. So our philosophy leads us to "house churches," which is what we call them.

Some folks think of me as a "house church" guy. I wish that weren't the case. I wish I were known as the "discipleship" guy. Jesus said to go make disciples, not make house churches. We think that our house is a means to discipleship. So we want to use that means to make more and better followers of Jesus. You can see the article about why we at thequest do house churches on our website http://www.thequestcolumbus.com/origins.html

 

Theology

This is the easiest one. The Bible commands Christians to practice hospitality. Actually it goes beyond that. The most direct, short and pithy command about hospitality is found packaged in a whole rambling of similar statements in Romans 12. Verse 13 states, "Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.[v]"

Well as you dive into this simple phrase "practice hospitality", you find out that the Greek word really says "pursue," "run after," "seek"[vi] hospitality. So we ought to be aggressive about it-every follower of Jesus!

I mentioned earlier that the biblical requirement for leaders is that "overseers must be...hospitable"[vii] But that doesn't leave you out. See the verse in Romans 12:13 says we Christians-ALL OF US-must practice hospitality. NO! We must go beyond that and pursue hospitality. We need to be rabid about it! We must run after it. We are commanded to!

 

Modeling

I won't forget the zeal with which one of my mentors, Pastor Jeff Thornley, pursued the guests at his home to pray for his children. After a meal or before an overnight guest left his house, Pastor Thornley always had the guest pray with and for his children before they could leave his home. It was sacred to him, because he loved his children and wanted the best for them.

My mom and dad always sought to have missionaries and visitors to our church stay or share a meal in our home. We certainly never had the finest of homes, but what we had we shared. After many years, I have forgiven my mom and dad for making my brother and I share a room all through our years at home, even though there was a guest bedroom that sometimes sat empty right across the hall. See, my parents were prepared to open their home to a guest.

Something spiritual and deep happens as these experiences and prayers pile up around shared meals and overnight stays. I can't explain it all, but somehow a truer fellowship happens. That's what I want for my kids as well. Practicing hospitality was modeled to me and I want to model it to my children. I want them to deeply understand that having people in our home for meals or to stay is part of the normal Christian life. It's not weird or once a year. It is normal for the follower of Jesus.

 

"How do you do it?"

I gave you some reasons why our family practices hospitality, but I didn't really get to answer the question of "how do we do it." Well, it is wrapped up in the following Scripture-

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. ... If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 4:8-9,11

We can only have people in our home everyday because of the strength God provides. We get tired. We feel used at times. We hate seeing our carpet get dirty. But our Great God gives us strength to do it and we want to love others deeply. Jesus has loved us deep and wide and high, so we offer hospitality without grumbling and with joy through the strength He provides.

Hospitality is something we can all grow in. Many of you are practicing hospitality as a part of the rhythm of your life. I applaud that and I want to continue to learn from you. Some of you are feeling prompted to open your homes and your lives more. I hope you will respond to this exhortation. I am writing to share things from my vantage point and to encourage us as a collection of followers of Jesus to be Biblical, to love others deeply, and to pursue hospitality.

 

Endnotes


[i] As an additional note, we are still renting. So you don’t have to own a home to be hospitable—use what God has allowed you to have for Him!

[ii] Interestingly that use by Jacob of naming a place Bethel was outside and not connected to a physical structure but rather a stone pillar commemorating where Jacob saw that ladder extending into heaven (Gen 28:19). God met him again at that same spot (Gen 35:15). This spot also be came important for the Israelites in pursuing God, His presence and His desires for them (see Judg 20-21). This sounds like what I want my house to be…a place to pursue God, His presence, and His desires.

[iii] Meet the Brethren. Edited by Donald Durnbaugh. p. 16.

[iv] The Brethren Movement started in Germany in 1708 and moved to America in the 1720’s. When you do the math that is nearly 60 years the church existed prior to having its own church buildings.

[v] From the New International Version

[vi] diw,kontej from the root diw,kw meaning to persecute; seek after, strive for; practice (hospitality) (pursue, chase Re 12.13); follow, run after (Lk 17.23) [This definition is from the UBS Lexicon]. This same word shows up in one of my favorite passages in Phil 3:12 & 14 and is translated as “press on” in the NIV. Import that into this text in Romans 12:13 “Press on in hospitality”—a very powerful picture.

[vii] 1 Timothy 3:2

 

 


Download a PDF of this article HERE

Originally written November 2003, Columbus OH. can be found here

<< Back to Features & Articles

 

Featured Article

Discipleship: Copies of the Original
by Chris Suitt

We must start helping people learn how to stay focused on and living in the presence of Jesus all day long...more

 

To submit an article for consideration on our website, send an email HERE with the subject line "Article for CMA website".

facebook logo
Facebook Page
CMAResources Twitter
@CMAResources

CMA Logo

Join Our E-Newsletter List

Sign up today to receive updates on happenings from CMA

Sign Up Now

See the Archives of past e-newsletters HERE

 

Primal Fire cover

Primal Fire

by Neil Cole

Primal Fire is a book that any Christian can read and find helpful in their calling to serve Jesus. It is a paradigm shifting work that will affect the way we understand ourselves and how we relate to one another in Christ's body...more

MP3 Downloads

MP3 Downloads - Only $.99

Helpful teachings on many facets of organic church!

More than 40 different recordings from some of the finest practitioners in our movement...browse them all

 

Cultivating E-Book Cover

Cultivating a Life for God
E-Book

by Neil Cole

The best selling book by Neil Cole, offered in E-Book format is now FREE for a LIMITED TIME! This clarion call to the work of disciplemaking and provides profound and practical help for any who would step up to the task of making disciples...more