The Bible has many verses on hospitality. For example, Paul wrote to the church at Rome and to Timothy and Titus about the matter. To the church at Rome, he simply said, “. . . pursue hospitality” (Rom. 12:13). And Paul told Timothy that leaders in the church must be hospitable: “An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not an excessive drinker, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy” (1 Tim. 3:2–3, emphasis added).
And Paul would say similar words in Titus 1:7–8: “As an overseer of God’s household, he must be blameless: not arrogant, not hot-tempered, not an excessive drinker, not a bully, not greedy for money, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled” (emphasis added).
This book is for those church members who really want to see their churches make a difference.
A Tale of Two Guests
The stories are true. Only the names have been changed. Here are two doses of reality, and the first one is positive.
Jane is a stylist. She cuts hair. On this particular day, she cut my hair. I often say I get my hairs cut rather than getting a haircut. I don’t know why people use the latter term. After all, who gets just one hair cut?
I am an introvert. If introversion were a spiritual gift, it would be my dominant spiritual gift. I would rather work in a room alone than work in a room with people I hardly know.
But I can’t let my introversion be an excuse to be a silent witness. So I make myself come out of my shell. It’s not just the right thing to do; it’s Great Commission obedience.
As Jane was cutting my hairs, I began a conversation about her life and her world. Once I found out where she lived, I was able to shift the conversation to Jesus and church. Indeed, I found out she lived near my church where my son pastors.
So I talked to Jane about her life. I talked a bit about Jesus. And I invited her to church.
She was non-committal. Or so I thought.
Little did I know that the Holy Spirit had already been working in her life. I will spare you the details, but she soon found the website of our church and “bravely” (her word, not mine) decided to visit.
She “fell in love with the church” (her words again). The website gave her all the information she needed. She found the guest parking spot with ease. The people were genuinely friendly. The preacher preached the Bible with conviction and love.
I will cut to the chase: Jane decided to follow Christ. She was baptized.
And now she is smiling, enthused, and an active member of the welcome team ministry of our church.
Great story, huh? Well, let me share another story, one that is not so great.
Thom S. Rainer, Becoming a Welcoming Church (Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 2018).
I have just completed a series of lessons based on this book. They are available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions, as well as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription service. For a medium-sized church, lesson subscriptions are only $10 per teacher per year. Lessons correspond with three of Lifeway’s outlines as well as the International Standard Series.