You may have seen something recently about a new Barna study on spiritually vibrant homes. These are homes were they seem to be the most successful in raising children to be active, productive Christian adults.
One of the most interesting findings was that spiritually vibrant homes regularly were hospitable to others – invited others into their homes. Although, another category of parents did a lot of the right things like Bible study, prayer and conversations about God – the missing hospitality element seemed to make them less effective in the end.
According to the Barna study, spiritually vibrant homes include family and individual Bible study and prayer. They have lots of conversations about God and what He wants from us and for us. They also consistently invited others into their home. Barna isn’t sure whether hospitality creates a spiritually vibrant home or if spiritually vibrant homes are just more hospitable, but the correlation is strong. Hospitality makes a huge difference.
Don’t let hospitality scare you. God commands it of us (Hebrews 13:2 and others). It doesn’t have to be fancy though. The tips below can help make being hospitable easier and a bigger part of your family life.
- Make your house a hospitality zone. All visitors are welcomed and encouraged, with only minor exceptions for family privacy. If you hear someone is visiting, needs a place to stay or even see neighbors in the yard – invite them to your home.
- Keep one room and one bathroom of your house relatively clean at all times. Visitors are not granted house tours, unless you enjoy that sort of thing. Most houses have a living room which is rarely used and stays “cleanish”. Lead all visitors to the “clean” room. If you have a half bath, it is your ideal visitor bathroom. Don’t worry about whether or not the rest of the house is clean enough for visitors – just shut the doors to the other rooms!
- Have a hospitality kit in your kitchen at all times. I keep a tin of flavored tea bags, coffee grinds and a pitcher of iced tea in my kitchen. I also have at least one box of Girl Scout cookies or bag of homemade cookies in my freezer. If you prefer savory, make it cheese and crackers. We usually also have a box of spaghetti noodles, whatever sauce I can whip up quickly and some frozen rolls. For kids, a frozen pizza or sandwich items, chips and fruit make a perfectly wonderful meal. You are now completely set for drop in guests at any time and even unexpected dinner quests. Remember, the food doesn’t have to be fancy – the company is what people really treasure.
- If you have room for overnight guests, keep a clean set of sheets and towels in your linen closet. Guests don’t mind grabbing towels or helping make beds. At least you know you will have clean linens ready when you need them.
- Be intentional about hospitality. Commit to having company once a month at first. Start small by asking a neighbor to join you for hot tea when you see her at the mail box on a cold day. Have your children join the two of you as everyone becomes better acquainted. Invite your child’s Sunday School teacher over for a casual lunch or dinner. Encourage your children to invite their friends over after school.
- Consistency matters. In the Barna study, they found spiritually vibrant homes made spiritual disciplines – including hospitality – something they did regularly. As time goes on, push your family a little harder. Try having weekly guests. Encourage your children to invite friends and their parents over for dessert one night. Nicer weather means you don’t even have to clean your house! Try serving lemonade on the deck or porch or eating ice cream treats in the yard.
- Take advantage of guests for your children to learn the faith stories of others. Host a visiting missionary family and encourage them to talk about their adventures with God on the mission field. Encourage older visitors to share how they saw God working during tough times in “history”! Have younger visitors share their godly dreams for the future or how they are beginning to understand why God asks us to do or not do certain things.
- Use hospitality to build and strengthen relationships with others. See how those relationships provide your family with opportunities to serve others and share your faith.
Hospitality is (according to the Barna study) an essential part of a spiritually vibrant home. God tells is to practice hospitality. Don’t let your fears and concerns keep you from experiencing the blessings from having other people in your home. Consider these house guests part of your “village” helping you raise children to be godly Christians.