Spontaneous Hospitality : Part I

I Tim. 3:2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

I Pet. 4:9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint.

A number of weeks ago I had the joy of spending an evening with the wives of the elders and pastors. Our husbands had been bearing some unusually heavy burdens, which meant of course that we were, too, were growing weary. So it was incredibly strengthening to meet together to talk, laugh, and pray for one another.

One topic of conversation that came up that night was the idea of spontaneous hospitality. It seems that a church we know has an interesting requirement of the wives of their pastors-in-training. During their husband’s final year of school, the wives are told that they should expect to host some guests one day with no or very little notice. “Yikes!” some thought! “That could be very intimidating to a young wife!” (It would have been to me as a newly married woman.) On the other hand, several of us felt it would be a terrific exercise, since unplanned hospitality is a routine matter for pastors and really should be for most of us.

When I discussed the idea with my daughters, they were intrigued. Kristen and Kara both said, “Someone should do that for us!” We talked about what hospitality really involves – sharing your home and life with others, not necessarily impressing them with your awesome cooking or spotless house. We also chatted about some of our emergency meals and desserts. In the next post I’ll tell you about my favorite spontaneous hospitality story, and then in another I’ll give some ideas of things you can do to make it easier to welcome people with little or no preparation.


Anonymous said…
Your blog entry reminded me of Mennonite author, Michele Hershberger's book, A Christian View of Hospitality: Expecting Surprises. I think you would enjoy! Available at amazon.com!
Hind's Feet said…
What an intriguing idea. And, what great preparation for any wife, not just those whose spoused are in leadership. I think that so many today equate hospitality with a spotless house, perfect food, matching dinnerware, etc. Some of our best hospitality times involved "make your own grilled chesse" nights... the house was just open to any who showed up. Or, the other time I can think of was when we expected 13-17 college students to show for a special dinner. But, instead we had many more (we stopped counting at 34), and just got creative with rice in the steamer and stir frying anything that didn't move. Nothing matched, food was spilled and one guest had to be carried upstairs since we didn't have a ramp... but it was great fun and we felt blessed to be a part of that group.
Go for it... teach us and then may God use us.
Blessings, Kim
Grace Halsey said…
Dear Anne,

Thanks for this encouragement! I need extra motivation since people here almost never eat in each other's homes and, when we've invited people over for dinner, it takes a lot of effort on our part to just get them here! But, we definitely need to "not grow weary in well doing!" I appreciate your blog so much and miss you all and CGS!!!

Becky Pryor said…

I've been reading your blog for the past few weeks. My husband and I part of Seven Hills Church up in Cincy, which is linked with CGS.

I wanted to share my appreciation that you posted on this topic. It has really been on my heart in the last week. We recently started hosting a community group at our apartment, which involves feeding 15ish every Tuesday. I have been attempting to impress everyone with my cooking and spotless (haha) house. However, I became grouchy, tired and bitter. I'm trying to revamp my approach, and in the process understand the concept of hospitality more. Right now it seems to have more to do with my pride than serving others! I will look for more on this hopefully!

In Christ,
Becky Pryor
Anne said…
Hi ladies -

Thanks for the encouragement. I've been wondering if I should keep blogging, as there is so much life going on these days.

I do have most of the hospitality posts already done, though, and Thur. is an elders' meeting night, which makes a good time to stay up late and write. :)

I was glad to see the book suggestion and will look into that one. A book I read as a newlywed was *Open Heart, Open Home* by Karen Maines. It is still in print, I think. It really helped my thinking so much on the topic of hospitality. Mrs. Maines tells how hospitality (people focused) is different from entertaining, which is focused on food, house, etc (i.e. things).

One of the important things I gained from this book is to include your visitors in the life of your home. If your baby needs a bath, ask the visiting college student to give it. If you are canning jam, work together with your guests. (These would be when guests are staying for more than just a meal.) Also --when your guests offer to help or bring part of the meal, let them! It will make things easier for you, but more important, help them feel more needed and part of the whole thing. Well, I'm getting long. More later!
Jill said…
Dear Anne,
Very early in our marriage, when my husband was just beginning seminary, he wisely told me that visitors were not to receive the special treatment that generally stresses wives and actually makes them inhospitable (at least at heart). His practical advice was to feed visitors exactly what was on the menu for that day.
You know me, I still have a rotating 3-week menu which has worked for us for many years. In the 30+ years since then I have only had one "disaster" when one family came on Refried Beans night and couldn't bring themselves to eat what we find delicious. Now, I usually cook up some taco meat to go along with it if company comes!
Not only are guests no longer a chore for me, we enjoy their company more and I believe they feel more comfortable knowing we're not trying to impress them. The family also, which may feel neglected when so much preparation is lavished on invited guests, participates in hospitality with greater enthusiasm.

One final word--we discovered that our son, Nate, has the spiritual gift of hospitality when he was still young. He would sit down with our guests--strangers to him--and read them a book or show them his school work with no prompting from us. We were able to encourage him in this gift, and to be encouraged by the fact that spiritual gifts are not reserved for adults.
Anne said…
Dear Jill -
That is such great advice!

After you taught us about your menu rotation those many years ago, I created my own 4-week one and have been using variations of it since. It's my single most useful tool in bringing order to meal planning/shopping/prep time.

Is Nate still planning on moving to B-ton when he completes his duty? I was so happy when I heard that he was. Nate holds a very special place in my heart. And I guess we will see all of you when you are here for the wedding in March?
Jill said…
As far as I know, Nate is planning to move to B'ton when he completes his service in about 8 months. He has already changed his permanant address to Indiana. He'll be able to be a full time student (if he applies and is accepted) and work only part time.
Ideally, he would love to return to the Gulf Coast eventually. He likes it hot and humid! The Ringling School interests him, but it is too expensive for his undergrad work.
We hope to see you all for Matt's wedding in March.

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