Hospitality is a lost art in our society. It’s not completely gone. We hear it’s echo. But it isn’t as prominent as it once was in our culture. As Jeff Vanderstelt points out, we’ve replaced the front porch with a fenced in backyard. Our home has become our castle, a place of refuge where we go to escape in solitude with our family. We tend to have a deep concern for our comfort. And if we are honest, the idea of hospitality often poses a threat to this comfort.
I get it. We are a busy people. We move to and fro working long hours and running lots of errands. We do our best to take care of our responsibilities. After all, helping our kids navigate the waters of this world is no easy task. However, think about the cost of not demonstrating hospitality. What does hospitality show our children? What does hospitality do for our soul?
What kind of statement does biblical hospitality make to the outside world?
I should pause here to define what I mean by ‘hospitality’. When I refer to biblical hospitality I mean something deeper than merely entertaining guests. Please don’t misunderstand me. Entertaining guests is important. When we share a meal together with those we love we take a significant step toward knowing them and being known by them. But the New Testament often gives us a picture of hospitality that offers more risk and comes at a greater cost. Consider what the author of Hebrews says, “Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Heb. 13:1-2)
Or consider the words of Jesus when he was invited into the home of a Pharisee. “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”(Luke 14:12-14)
The author of Hebrews calls us to show hospitality to strangers. Jesus calls us to show hospitality to the vulnerable, and his brother, James tells us, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction”.
Rather than thinking about hospitality as merely entertaining guests, I propose we define hospitality as ‘welcoming the vulnerable into our sphere of shared life’.
Demonstrating this kind of hospitality will look different for each of us as we consider our individual calling, gifting, and circumstance. As a people who are pro-life let’s consider what part we might play in the broad spectrum of care for ‘the least of these’. As we seek to defend the life of the unborn what role does hospitality play?
Hospitality might be demonstrated when you invite a young mother over for dinner. Using that opportunity to encourage her and her decision to choose life for her child is a beautiful way to welcome her into your sphere of shared life. Perhaps you will find it on your heart to temporarily open the doors of your home to a young boy through the ministry of Safe Families.
You might not be in a position to take a child in your home at this moment. I understand that, I really do. But, if another family in your church does find themselves ready to show hospitality in that position, you could encourage and support them with a gift of diapers, a gift card, or a free night of babysitting.
In doing so, you would be showing hospitable benevolence and generous love. If you are able to pursue foster care or adoption- go for it! The need is there and the need is great. We serve a God who is ‘a Father to the Fatherless’ and our adoption as sons of God is shown in a beautiful way when we welcome a child into our family.
My challenge is for us to live counter-culturally when it comes to hospitality. Let’s trade in our castles. In the end, we will find that they are made of sand anyway. Let’s open our homes while taking responsible risk.
In doing so the world will wonder why we operate the way that we do. And we will find the ear of someone who needs to be told about the ultimate generosity of our Heavenly Father.
Brian Sendelbach is the Associate Pastor at Village Baptist Church. He and his wife Julie have two children and are in the process of adopting their foster child. You can find him on Facebook and online at