I’ll be honest…
Whenever the word “hospitality” is said, I cringe. Not because I don’t like the sound of it, but because I feel guilty for not having scored high on hospitality in my Spiritual Gifts Inventory test. It’s one of those expectations placed on women, on Christians, and especially on pastors’ wives. Am I right?
So… when I was given the opportunity to review this book published by Moody Publishers, I hesitantly decided to say YES and dive into a topic that is so appealing, and yet, so challenging for me.
“The Simplest Way to Change the World” by Dustin Willis and Brandon Clements was one of those books that will either refresh your soul or bring you to your knees. These guys - church planters and pastors - wrote this book while LIVING this challenge. Biblical hospitality is just that. It’s Biblical. But it doesn't need to be hard. And while I struggle with the topic, I am ever so desiring to grow into making hospitality a part of my life.
I’ve read a few other books on hospitality in the last few years. Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequiest was one of them. And I was truly changed from the inside out after reading her words of opening your home and your life to those around us, even over a frozen pizza and paper plates. It’s not about having it all together. It’s not about a perfectly clean home. It’s not about the nicest dishes and the most gourmet home-cooked meal. It’s about sharing your life with another human being.
And this book worked as the REMINDER I needed to put those truths into practice. Filled with Scripture truths, Willis and Clements challenged us to begin seeing our homes, our backyards, our neighborhoods, and our circles as the very places where God wants us to share His good news!
“The secret weapon for gospel advancement is HOSPITALITY, and you can practice it whether you live in a house, an apartment, a dorm, or a high-rise. It takes only your willingness to open your home and life to others.”
A few years ago I decided to let go of the idea of perfect hospitality. I learned that by opening my doors to others and allowing them to see my home “as is”, without compulsively cleaning and bleaching my bathroom counters, floors, and vacuuming every corner of my living room before their feet entered the spaces within my walls, I was giving them a GIFT. The gift of grace. The gift that says, “here’s the real me. Feel free to be yourself WITH me, too”.
“… the world could use more ordinary Christians opening their ordinary lives so others can see what life in light of the gospel looks like. And what better place to watch Christians than in their homes?”
Isn’t it sobering to think that the ways we inhabit our homes show our true selves? When we’re at HOME we are free to be ourselves. We walk around in sweatpants and yoga pants all day, we have dirty dishes, dirty laundry, shoes EVERYWHERE, children’s toys and books and stuff… the groceries aren’t always put away, right away, and the bills and receipts pile up on the corner of the counter or desk, where the kids’ school papers, assignments, schedules and flyers are also found. Bear with me here, though… I’m not saying that a disorganized, messy, and unkept home can be a gift to someone. But I AM saying that perfection is NOT a gift you can give someone. Instead of spending hours preparing our homes to receive someone in, why not spend MORE time WITH people. Let’s be people that engage WITH people.
I loved the section in the book that encourages us to “talk less and eat more”. Sharing a meal with our neighbors or those we’ve been praying for can mean more to them than the exchange of emails and text messages. Or sharing a meal with those who are needing encouragement instead of sending cards (which, believe me, I love doing, too!), to let them know we love them. Or, more intentional, yet, speaking truth in love with someone who doesn’t share the same values at the dinner table or around our living room can be more loving and grace filled than over emotionally driven mental conversations (the ones we only have in our minds… not in person).
“In our increasingly hostile culture, the importance of hospitality cannot be overstated. And we are not suggesting that you go silent on all your beliefs and values. We’ve found that those conversations tend to be more effective when they happen in a clear context of grace and love over meals than in shouting matches from afar. Let’s do a little less talking and a little more eating, and who knows what Jesus might do.”
And what about our excuses? Our weaknesses? I enjoyed reading this section of the book, especially since I’ve heard myself using several of these:
“What if they don’t like me?”
“But my house is a wreck!”
“I don’t like to entertain.”
“But I’ll have to cook!”
“But we have kids!”
“But my home is small.”
I was pleased to read their responses to these excuses. They didn’t just give the expected answer to these statements, but addressed them in a way that empowers me to have perspective. To look at hospitality as a way of loving people, not entertaining them. And to focus on the gift of sharing our lives, whether in our homes or in a shared space like a coffee shop or a park.
And the final thing I enjoyed about this book is that it was formatted to be a discussion book. It has “Questions to Consider” at the end of each chapter, and at the end of the book, it includes a 6-week group study, with suggested questions and ideas on how to lead a group study. What a perfect way to begin practicing Biblical hospitality, right?
My prayer is that we would be people who invite Biblical hospitality as a lifestyle.
Let me hear from you, now! How do you see yourself practicing hospitality? What are the areas in hospitality that you struggle the most? What are your weakness & excuses?
I’m thankful to Moody Publishers who provided this complimentary copy of “The Simplest Way to Change the World – Biblical Hospitality as a Way of Life” in exchange for an honest review. I feel blessed and honored for this opportunity. I was not compensated and my reviews are not influenced by the above publisher company.