By Beth Branstetter, Contributing Writer
When I hear the word, “hospitality,” I automatically think of inviting people into my home. I start to think of dinner parties, birthday parties, holiday parties, and more. I think of my mom, because hospitality is one of her gifts. My mom has a way of making people feel welcome in her home, whether they’re friends or strangers. But I’ve realized that there’s more to hospitality than just opening your home. I have also realized that while it may come naturally to some, it is a work-in-progress for others (like me).
A little over a year ago, we moved to a city where we knew no one. It was a difficult time for me, but it was also a time of growth. We couldn’t invite anyone over because we didn’t have anyone to invite. We were attending a really large church, but weren’t connected to anyone there. It was a time that made us think outside the box. How can you be hospitable when you don’t know anyone?
I have realized since then that hospitality is not all about having people over. It is much more than that. You can practice hospitality in your home, as well as outside your home. Here are some practical ways that you could use to be hospitable.
Take someone food.
You may know someone who just had surgery, a baby, or just needs some cheering up. Showing someone you care about them by taking them a meal is hospitality. It doesn’t have to be fancy; I’m sure that they will appreciate you taking time out of your day to think of them. You could use a freezer meal from your stash. You could order pizza for them. You could take them a picnic in a basket.
Make and give away Blessing Bags.
Are you wary about the people standing on street corners holding signs that say, “Homeless. Please help?” Personally, I’d rather hand them food than money, but Blessing Bags put a whole new spin on it.
A Blessing Bag is a ziploc bag filled with things that someone who is homeless could use: toiletries, snack food, maybe even some change, and a note of why you are giving it to them. A friend of mine has her kids make them up, and they keep them in their car. Whenever they encounter someone in need, they can just hand it out the window. Not only is it a ministry to the person receiving them, but also to those kids. They are taught why they are doing it, and they are acting as Jesus’ hands and feet.
Make a survival kit.
Again, this could apply to someone who just had a surgery or baby. It could be for someone who is moving, or even a student during their final exams week. I made a hospital survival kit for a couple in our small group because I wanted to give them something that they could use. Maybe you know someone who is going through a rough time and could use some “happy-in-a-box.” This is an easy way to spread some cheer.
Greet people at church.
Once an outsider, I cannot tell you how welcomed I felt when someone took the chance to say hello on Sunday morning at a church we were visiting. It doesn’t take much to tell someone in the row ahead of you, “Welcome.” Even if you don’t know if they’ve been going to that church for 30 years or if this is their first time, this is an easy way to be hospitable.
Offer to keep a friend’s child.
Do you know someone who goes to doctor appointments or a couple who really needs to go on a date night? Just offering to keep their kids while they can run their errands is another thing you can do to be hospitable.
When talking with my mom about hospitality, she said, “Being hospitable is who you are and how you treat people no matter where you are.” That is so true. Hospitality, kindness, and serving one another all go hand-in-hand. When we are hospitable, we are showing Christ’s love to others. Even if you don’t know the people very well that you’re serving, this is an open door to getting to know them better. After all, strangers are friends we just haven’t met yet.
“Offer hospitality to one another without complaining.” 1 Peter 4:9
What are some unique ways that you can be hospitable to those around you this week?
Do you want to learn more about hospitality?
You can sign up for my FREE 3-part video series on hospitality. We begin by first starting where any Gospel-Centered discussion should start: with the Bible! We then take that Biblical definition of hospitality and practically apply it with a beginner’s guide to hospitality – everything you need to know to have the confidence to start extending hospitality – today! Sign up HERE for free!