I’m delighted to introduce you to another minister’s wife today. We talked recently about what biblical hospitality means and how we can incorporate that concept into our ministries. If you’d like to hear our entire conversation, click here for that podcast episode.
Angela Sackett and her husband previously served on church staffs, but now they run a Christian camp in Virginia with what she calls wild hospitality. They’re a homeschool family with 5 children ages 26 down to 15. Angela hosts the Everyday Welcome podcast where she encourages women to open their hearts to know God through His word and to open their lives to invite others into relationship with Him. She’s also offering you a free biblically based planning series called A Grace-Filled Beginning! Click HERE for more information.
Why is hospitality something that you personally are passionate about?
My parents were divorced when I was very young and I lived in a lot of different places, went to a lot of different schools. I had a longing to be included, to feel like I had a place where people knew me. I think that we serve and we give to others out of the places that we have longing for. For me, this passionate desire to help people welcome others with their lives, to make people feel seen and heard and to give them the truth in love comes out of I want to feel seen, I want to feel heard, I want to feel like someone wants me and needs me there and notices if I’m not there.
We’re in a time in our society where it’s very hard to do. People have lost the skill and even the desire to live that kind of life. We’re happy to kind of hunker down. We’ve lost that skill of how to start a conversation, how to get to know someone, how to discover what their needs are. I want to get other people excited about structuring their lives in that way and really talk about what it actually means.
I’m an HGTV and Food Network girl, but I live in a three-room cabin in the middle of the mountains. I can’t host big parties and not everybody wants to do that. Not everybody you know has the skill set or the desire to have pretty napkins or fancy meals but really biblically, that’s not what it’s all about anyway.
Why do you think hospitality is important?
Even though we have “community” on Facebook or Instagram, that isn’t enough, not by a long shot!
First of all, people don’t really get real unless we are face to face. During the two years that will go unnamed in our so in our country and our world, we all learned we need to be together.
For those of us in the body of Christ, the scriptures teach us in Paul’s and Peter’s letters that one of the ways that God meets the needs of His people is through each other. We see the early believers gathering together and selling what they had so that they could provide for each other as believers. Biblical community also shows the world what God’s love looks like. In 1 John we see that our love one for another in the body is a picture of God’s love to a lost world.
Secondly, I don’t think we can get real with people, especially unbelievers, until you’re in each other’s homes—that takes it to a whole other level. But for sure we need to be sitting down sharing a cup of coffee with them or going for a walk together. One friend and I helped each other clean rooms in our houses when our when our babies were little. Encounters like that, getting together in person, that’s where we really get to know each other. That’s where our stories get told.
An unbelieving neighbor of mine in New Jersey was pretty antagonistic to my being a Christian. But in daily life together, walking through one of her kids getting in trouble, talking through how do we handle that—being able to say, “Well I know this might sound religious to you but this is something that I’ve learned to do with my son.” I just shared a piece of my testimony. So I think it’s the doing life together part that really gives us the opportunity to make God’s love practical and tangible to others.
What does hospitality look like these days?
Having it all together and perfectly clean and decorated. No! I’m kidding!
I would say it’s not about how catchy your furniture is or even always about hosting. Think of Jesus did life with the people in his life and He didn’t have a house. He was going into someone else’s house. It’s really more about our mindset towards someone else. Do I love them as Christ called me to love my brother and love my neighbor? Do I actually care about them? Am I listening to hear them so that I can know what their needs are? What are their gifts?
The art of conversation seems to be dying as we are so glued to our screens. Becoming observers through a screen has made us lose the ability to ask questions, to get at the heart of a person.
How do I go from “Hi! I’ve never met you before” to a mom who sits next to me on the bleachers at my kids games or the woman that checks me out at Walmart—how do I move from this sort of transactional existence to getting to know what really makes them tick? There are questions that we can ask even in the checkout line to determine if someone is struggling, if they’re having a rough day, if there’s something that you could pray for them even.
This question is huge: Is there anything I can pray for you? That’s a huge door.
There’s also something about being vulnerable. We have a 3 room cabin but we have other spaces here on property. I run a coffee shop at the camp where we lead a college Bible study. As much as I work hard to make that coffee shop feel welcoming, there’s something different that happens when we say to the kids hey let’s meet at our house Wednesday night instead. There’s a kind of a built-in intimacy and a letting down our guard.
People tend to linger longer when you’re in someone’s house. Restaurants can be so loud and you’re constantly being interrupted by servers. Then you feel guilty after the meal if you don’t hop up right quick so she can flip the table. Being in a home creates a different environment that lets you slow down and relax. It opens the door for those more intimate, meaningful conversations.
Then flip that around. Working with young adults, I try to help them be hospitable. With one of our girls that comes to our Bible study, I’ll invite myself over to her apartment. She’s got this cute little apartment because she’s really into DIY and she’s done a lot of things. By me going into her home, I can immediately see her interest in DIY and essential oils. That’s a conversation starter! She had a little coffee bar set up and I could talk to her about that. We learn what what other people care about. Being in her place gives me a chance to serve her. Is there anything I can help you with?
Make the effort to go and be on someone else’s turf. Maybe it’s just going for a walk with dogs. Or join a young mom on an outing to a pumpkin patch. Meet someone to exercise. Meet them where they are and come alongside them.
How can we incorporate hospitality more into church culture?
When we looked for a church in a new city a few years ago, we were just reminded again that some churches do not do visitors very well at all! It’s kind of horrifying. Other churches, however, are intentional about recognizing visitors: Hey! I don’t know you. I’m going to go out of my way to make you feel comfortable and welcome.
Believers are actually commanded to practice hospitality. See 1 Peter 4:9 and Romans 12:13.
One helpful way to do this is to put yourself in a visitor’s shoes. Think about the new believer or someone who’s new to a church.
- What are they looking for? What information do they need?
- Does your website have the service times and church address listed? What about dress code or the kind of service to expect?
- Are directional signs for the nursery or worship center clear?
- Do the women’s bathrooms offer feminine supplies?
- What about coloring pages and crayons to pass out to children coming into the sanctuary?
People who visit our churches shouldn’t feel abandoned because no one recognizes they’re standing there looking lost.
- Be on the lookout for people who may need help finding a seat or the restroom or the children’s department.
- Encourage your regulars to have a question ready in their heads to ask visitors to help get to know them.
- Be thoughtful and intentional about reaching out to other people.
- Show hospitality to everybody. Jesus had dinner with tax collectors (who were the scum of society) and prostitutes. They weren’t his closest confidants, but He certainly treated them with dignity and respect and kindness.
Model hospitality for your church
Open your home
At our first church, we invited the senior adults over for a picnic at our house. We had BBQ catered in and everyone sat on our back porch. I was shocked at how many of these older saints commented they’d never been in a pastors’ home before and determined to open our home to our church family as often as we could.
We try to have Sunday school parties in our house. We host small group and committee meetings. I even had a ladies event at our house one time. Most church people don’t want to be our best friends, but it is very meaningful for them to feel like they know us beyond watching Greg in the pulpit on Sunday mornings. you know down at the front on the pulpit. Um, they want to feel like they know who we are as people and they.
Biblical hospitality says, Come in and let me make you feel loved!
Sometimes it’s irritating when we have to change our plans, but Ministry Ministry Interrupts. Jesus Himself was interrupted all the time by people, like the lady who grabbed his robe as He’s on his way to do something else. Or He’d be preaching and somebody would rush up and interrupt him and say my daughter’s sick—Come! That’s part of biblical hospitality.
Loosen the entertaining standards
Having people over doesn’t mean you have to drag out the china and cloth napkins. Fancy can feel very uncomfortable for some people, while it may bless others. We’ve had people over before and served grilled cheese and apple slices and called it a meal! They’re not coming to judge our cooking; they just like being together.
Angela had lots more wonderful things to say, so I hope you’ll hop over to your podcast app and listen to this episode and also check out her podcast, Everyday Welcome (Click HERE).
Plus, don’t forget your free biblically based planning series from Angela! Click HERE for more info.