One of the things I constantly suggest families do regularly is to entertain people in their homes. There are so many benefits to your family when you host others. I was obviously interested then when offered an opportunity to review a new book on the subject, The Simplest Way to Change the World by Dustin Willis and Brandon Clements.
Willis and Clements make the case that through bringing others into your home you can more easily accomplish two of the main goals of Christians – serving others and sharing your faith. In fact, one of my favorite concepts in the book is that hospitality is not a nice, optional activity for Christians – if they have a large house, nice furniture, extra money for great food and plenty of free time. Instead, they maintain hospitality is actually commanded of Christians.
Indeed, Hebrews 13:2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” and I Peter 4:9 “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” are only two of several verses in the New Testament commanding Christians to practice hospitality.
The authors don’t just throw some scripture bombs and walk away, though. They spend the time trying to help readers really understand the benefits of opening their homes to others in a variety of ways. I love how they map out how God in His own way is hospitable to us and that we are reflecting His image by being hospitable to others. They also explain how not only is it a great way to serve others and share your faith, but also it helps your personal spiritual growth.
The authors give lots of practical examples of even small things you can do that will make you automatically hospitable, like moving your grill to the front yard. They also remind people of habits that used to be common place, but have almost disappeared in today’s world – like hanging out in your yard and talking to neighbors. Even though our family tends to entertain quite a bit and regularly interacts with our neighbors, I will be the first to admit we tend to do it in spurts. So, personally I loved the idea of committing to a regular night when you entertain someone or lots of someone’s. (I would say though, if once a week seems impossible to you with a house full of little ones, try once a month. I would do like they suggest and make it the second Tuesday of every month – or whatever – to help you be consistent.)
For those who struggle with hospitality, they give lots of practical ideas for different ways of entertaining others. They also address the issues introverts, those who are embarrassed by their home and others may have with the idea of opening their home to others. For those who want to do the book as a Bible study to encourage others in their church family to entertain, they also include a small group study guide in the back with questions and more scriptures. (There are also a few questions at the end of each chapter.)
There were really only a couple of minor issues I had with the book. First, I wish they had one or more women weigh in on what they were writing. I can almost promise you any woman reading this book is going to have at least a small part of her brain saying “That’s easy for you guys to write, but I wonder what your wives think about having to clean, cook and then clean again after guests leave all while dealing with all of your young kids.” Fair or not to the authors, in many homes the woman bears the brunt of the entertaining duties. It would have been nice for one of their wives or another woman to confirm it was worth all of the extra work it created.
Also, it’s just a pet peeve of mine, but these co-author books drive me crazy with the I (Dustin), I (Brandon) thing. It’s just distracting and slows down reading, because it forces your brain to re-read and catch who is talking. I think I would almost rather read it in 3rd person or just say “I” without differentiating. Thankfully, in this book the identification thing was used less than in other co-authored books I have read.
If you love to entertain, but have slowly copied the rest of the world and cut back on opening your home to others, this book is a great reminder. It made me realize we have slacked off a bit, and yet it’s one of the things I really enjoy doing. If you have never entertained or are uncomfortable entertaining others, I think this book has enough encouragement and practical suggestions to motivate you to at least attempt it. I hope everyone who reads it is reminded that hospitality is not an option for us as Christians, but an expectation God has of us – and then goes and does something about it. I really do think if we did, it could make a major positive shift in our world.
This book was given to me for free in exchange for my honest review. An affiliate link is included for your convenience.