Contact Us

  • Phone: 979-268-8900
  • Email: 
  • Address: 700 University Drive East, Ste. 115, College Station, TX 77840




Unconventional Hospitality

Posted by Gwen Hattaway on

“Hospitality isn’t about your house. It’s about your heart.” I saw this quote a long time ago but don’t remember the source so, unfortunately, I can’t give credit where credit is due.

It means that your house doesn’t have to be perfect. I get that. But, this time, it struck me that hospitality isn’t about your house at all. Hospitality can happen anywhere. Unlike entertaining, hospitality is guest-centered. Hospitality is showing love. To believers, unbelievers, strangers, friends, and people who aren’t like us.

I’m a micro-organized, macro-disorganized, Bohemian gypsy. I love staying home and I crave a tidy house, but I am rarely here. I fight, and continually lose, against stacks on the dining table, clutter all around, and laundry mountains. My husband works out of town and gets home when normal, non-Bohemian people are going to bed.

Years ago, when our life was less scattered and he worked in town, we often had people over for dinner. Nothing fancy, just a meal with us and five little Hattaways making life crazy. As life and logistics changed, that happened less and less. It’s been a source of grief and guilt because we thought that if we weren’t having people over for dinner, we weren’t offering hospitality.

Christian hospitality is commanded in New Testament scripture. It’s not a suggestion. It is a duty and a virtue to be practiced often and joyfully.

Peter says to show hospitality to one another without grumbling, (I Peter 4:9).

“We are not to begrudge the time, energy, and privacy used for hospitality, any more than we are to begrudge the things we give away when we were cautioned that ‘God loveth a cheerful giver,’”’ says Edith Schaeffer, wife of Francis Schaeffer and author of L’Abri.

Kevin DeYoung says, “Good hospital-ity is making your home a hospital. The idea is that friends and family and the wounded and weary people come to your home and leave helped and refreshed.” Hospitality isn’t a unique spiritual gift. It’s a way to use your spiritual gifts.

In a season of life when you can’t make your home a hospital, there are still unconventional ways to cultivate relationships and love on people.

I found that my love for travel is a way to offer hospitality. I drive people to appointments, take them to the airport and often, just go on an adventure. At this stage in my life, I can love on people by meeting their needs practically, spiritually, and emotionally in my car. It’s my mobile hospital. It’s where discussions happen because we have time together. It’s a way to show them they’re cared for.

There are endless ways to offer hospitality outside your home:

  • Take snacks or a simple meal to share at sports practice or with a study group.
  • Help a missionary family pack or sell their belongings.
  • Leave your office door open and a bowl of candy out. My husband works with people from all around the world. Many conversations have led to lifetime connections because people will stop in his office and linger.
  • Sit with someone at the hospital while a loved one has surgery.
  • Visit patients in the hospital (call first and keep the visit short).
  • Interview a nursing home patient. Everyone has a story. Conversation eventually leads to asking about their spiritual life.
  • Offer to share a table when there’s a long wait list at a restaurant.
  • Ask people to grab their own dinner and come hang out in your backyard or a park. We used to have an open door policy on Tuesday nights when Sonic had burgers for 1/2 price. We called it Sonic social night, and people would grab a burger and come hang out in our backyard.
  • Take coffee and meet someone on campus. There are places everywhere, indoors and out, to sit and visit.
  • Take an international student or a car-less person shopping.
  • Go do laundry in a laundromat in a part of town where you don’t blend in (even if you have a washer). Sit and visit. Take water to share. If you go during a weekend, it’s usually a family affair.
  • Send letters and care packages as a form of long-distance hospitality.
  • Work alongside someone — help fix their car, rake leaves, clean house, bake, can vegetables together.
  • Strike up a conversation with people you don’t know. Just saying “hi” and asking how things are going can be the opening.

 Practicing hospitality takes time. But if you’re in Christ, “ Your life is not your own, neither is your time,” says Rosaria Butterfield, author of The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World.

Rosaria was a practicing lesbian, on tenure track at Syracuse University when she was invited to have dinner with a pastor and his wife. Rosaria was reading the Bible for a research project she was working on. She was a user who looked at the dinner invitations as free research material. A relationship was formed, however, and the pastor and his wife invested years into loving Rosaria, eventually sharing the gospel. They told her that they didn’t agree with her lifestyle but they loved her as she was. God changed her heart and she came to faith in Christ, left her lover, her job, and lost her friends. She is now married to a reformed pastor and has children. She’s zealous about hospitality because she knows first-hand what it can do.  

We must show up in the life of unbelievers. But, don’t make people projects, Rosaria says. “Love them, welcome them, listen to them.” Pray for wisdom and discernment about when to share the gospel, and trust the Holy Spirit to work through your actions.

Hospitality works to change strangers into neighbors. In good time, the Lord may change hearts and transform neighbors into brothers and sisters. It’s all about the heart.