Hospitality is a deliberate decision to know the people around you from more than a polite distance.

Commit Deliberate Acts of Hospitality

We were new in church and new to the area, and our little three-bedroom fixer-upper was situated in a part of the universe in which it didn’t matter that we had been born and bred in Maine. We had not been born and bred in this part of Maine, and we had the accent (or lack of same) to prove it.

We knew we had some work to do if we were ever going to live our way into the homes and hearts of people in Mid-coast Maine. We also knew the answer was, of course, to go first — to begin inviting people for Sunday dinner or Saturday night dessert and a movie. But here’s the catch:  four babies in eight years makes for a complicated math that drains the budget and strains all available time and energy for home improvement projects. As the years passed, the fixer-upper still looked pretty un-fixed as we replaced the furnace and shingled the roof, bought sneakers and paid for home school curriculum. Somehow, though, we knew that this was not the time to put life on hold.

In a deliberate act of hospitality, we set a goal of inviting one new couple each month for Friday night supper. We opened our door, inviting guests into our own unique chaos of high chairs and sheet rock, half-painted woodwork and ugly kitchen cabinets. This was our way of opening up our life and inviting others to open theirs to us.

The Hospitable Life

Reading Just Open the Door: How One Invitation Can Change a Generation, I felt Jen Schmidt and the whole (in)courage team nodding and smiling in agreement that true hospitality is nothing more (and nothing less!) than “an ordinary couple [making] a deliberate decision, intent on getting to know the people around them from more than a polite distance.” (2) In Romans 12:3, the Apostle Paul puts a strong verb in front of the word hospitality when he urges Roman believers who were facing persecution to “pursue hospitality.”

Hospitality, then, is not wild creativity on display, nor is it a demonstration of expert cooking skill. It’s a way of life that wonders:
“Whom can I love on today?”
“Who needs encouragement?”

Each chapter of Just Open the Door unpacks a different facet of the hospitable life with words of encouragement and stories lifted from Jen Schmidt’s own parenting, inviting, tail-gating, pot-lucking life. For every “have to” moment in your day, Jen invites you to switch the sentiment to “get to,” as in “Today, I get to change the sheets in the guest room.” A life marked by gratitude opens up the floodgates to all kinds of hospitality.

Hospitality:  Will Travel

A blanket on the beach;
The bleachers at a ball game;
A picnic table at a state park;
Your church’s fellowship hall–
Simple refreshments and a warm welcome transform any space into hospitality ground-zero.

At the end of each chapter, Schmidt shares tips that “Elevate the Ordinary,” because intentionally loving others transforms paper plates and styrofoam coffee cups into fine china. Be a gatherer of people, and you will not lack opportunities to love your neighbor.

Come As You Are

Even if you are not “fine,” you need not be alone if there are people in your life with whom you are free to exchange the gift of your own imperfection (119) for the gift of their listening ear. The whole family can get in on the opportunity to neighbor broadly and indiscriminately in simple ways such as picking up the trash that lands along the streets or making conversation about dogs and kids.

Our children have received great benefits from being included in multi-generational gatherings, and we  have also loved hosting their friends. Everything from spontaneous gatherings around the fire pit for s’mores and firefly sightings to huge gatherings with lace tablecloths and the best dishes have been part of our family’s culture. Jen has spoken truth in her subtitle, “One Invitation Can Change a Generation.” These days the tables get turned sometimes as our married sons and their wives invite us to their homes to be blessed and fed and connected with family and friends.

“Grace On, Guilt Off”

Things will not always go well.
Events will not necessarily unfold according to plan.
There will be seasons in which hospitality is just not possible, and you may need to be the object of someone else’s care and love. God has a way of showing up in unexpected ways, showering grace into a situation that looks hopeless.

“Opening the door when we aren’t ready defines hospitality in the deepest sense of the word.” (195)

Throwing wide the door of welcome, we embody God’s welcome and put the Gospel’s warm, life-giving hospitality on display for a world of people whose life may be changed by one simple invitation from an open and responsive heart. When we open the door, we mirror God’s acceptance, and I’m coming away from Jen Schmidt’s soft-spoken challenge with a renewed desire to lean into the risk, to open the door when I’m not quite prepared as an act of faith:  “Lord, what are you about to do here?” Relaxing my need for control frees Him to work as table becomes altar, hostess becomes servant, and my open door becomes an invitation to New Life with Him.

Many thanks to B&H Books for providing this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with complete honesty.

I  am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. If you should decide to purchase Just Open the Door: How One Invitation Can Change a Generation, simply click on the title (or the image) here or within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Yours for more deliberate acts of hospitality,

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Photo of the door by Daniel von Appen on Unsplash

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 30 years, and together they have four sons, two daughters-in-love, two grandchildren, and one lazy St. Bernard. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

60 thoughts on “Commit Deliberate Acts of Hospitality”

  1. Hey Michelle, Thanks for giving us a peek into your life and sharing open the door! I love inviting people into our home. Hospitality was important to Jesus, He often broke bread with others,. He loved people like the harlots and tax collectors . What a tremendous example to us! Blessings, Misty

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the thought of a hospitality challenge! I am much more of an “inviter” than hubby is. I usually have to talk him into having company over, but once I do, he always has a great time. There are so many people (me included) who could use a friendly chat and some food to share. It doesn’t have to be a lot of work or fancy, just the act of fellowship is what is important.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, inviting is always the sort of thing that may cause some initial stress, but then you realize how fantastic it was and want to do it again! We just had guests in for dinner yesterday–nothing fancy at all, and they were delightful, and the whole experience was worth every minute of effort.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have had a heart for hospitality for many years. Cultivating legitimate and profound relationships with others is very important to me. I don’t like to stay on the surface of any relationship. I thoroughly enjoyed this post and will definitely put this book on my reading list!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In our early married lives, I used to think I had to practically spring clean the whole house before I could have anyone over. Naturally, I didn’t have many people over. 🙂 On the other hand, I visited someone once who picked up something she wanted to show me off of a shelf and blew a cloud of dust off it before handing it to me. There’s a happy medium between those two extremes somewhere. It’s not always easy to find it. But I have been convicted that hospitality is more about an open heart than a certain level of housecleaning and meal offering. And I fail in that so often even with my family or out running errands, giving off “Don’t bother me now” vibes. And I am convicted by that verb Paul used, to pursue hospitality. This sounds like a great book on this topic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I loved the choice of an active verb. It’s an invitation to go running toward the risk instead of giving off those “don’t bother me now” vibes. Oh, goodness, that’s convicting to me, because I know I broadcast that message all the time with my furrowed brow and my inward orientation, always deep inside my head . . .
      Thanks for this friendly jolt, Barbara!

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  5. I actually have two recurring entries in my diary, once a week to reach to a friend. Any friend, be it by phone, text or a letter (we do like to write to each other) and just say hello and check in. Then once a month to ‘actually see people’ that’s how I’ve got it written sometimes we go to the cinema other times everyone comes round and I think it makes a great difference, it allows friendships to grow and also helps keep them strong as well as helping my mental well being. #TwinklyTuesday

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see that you are being very intentional about this, and that’s SO wise! Thanks for sharing your method, because I’m certain that many of us need the same kind of gritty determination to do what’s best for us and others (whether we feel like it or not!).

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  6. It’s so true that we shouldn’t wait for circumstances or our homes to be perfect before reaching out to others. I like your point that as we show hospitality we are modelling God’s welcome and acceptance to others.

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    1. I love thinking about the welcome of the gospel. So often we think of it as “advice” or piles of information to be dropped into someone’s brain. The message of the gospel is bad news about sin, but then good news about forgiveness in Christ and all about welcome.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I see a similar theme between our posts today – extending the invitation for hospitality and developing community. It is such a blessing to gather people around the table and there is freedom in knowing you don’t have to have a perfect house to do it. I need the reminder of looking at some of my ordinary routines or life as “get tos” rare than “have tos”. What a difference it makes.

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    1. I noticed that as well, Mary. Funny how often our paths intersect. And today I’m working on “getting to” mow a few lawns, “getting to” make some oatmeal cookies, and “getting to” pass out invitations this evening for our church’s children’s outreach next week! (It really does make a difference!)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is such beautiful advice. And, I, of course, loved the part about your personal experience. It reminds me of FlyLady. I love her philosophy and her theories on C.H.A.O.S. (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome) and how she combats that. Thank you for this precious encouragement, Michele. My husband, son, and I have always loved sharing what we have (little or much) with whomever we can. There is so much joy in giving, and it truly is better to give than to receive.

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  9. I love your heart in this post, Michele! Hospitality isn’t the easiest thing to practice when life feels crazy. Yet I can say that when families that have invited me to their home, I haven’t cared about whether their house is messy or not. What matters is the community and love behind it. Thank you for linking up over at GraceFull Tuesday!

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    1. Yes, it’s good for us to put things in perspective by realizing that when we are the guests, we don’t go looking for fingerprints on the windows and dust in the corners! We’re just glad to be invited!

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  10. I’m in the middle of this very book. So good! And not a little convicting …

    I do love the idea, “Who can I love on today?” I had really never thought of it in those terms before. I also like the idea of “grace on, guilt off!”

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  11. I have been thinking more and more lately on hospitality. My husband and I are in our mid-fifties and we both work full time. It’s hard to keep in touch with old friends at this stage in life and even harder to make new friends. We are tired when we get home from work and he works on Saturday as well so….But, I think I will start with family. I can invite my brother and his fiance over with my mum. That is a good place to start.

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    1. That’s an awesome place to start–and it’s awesome just to start. The author of the book (Jen Schmidt) emphasizes that the food does not need to be fancy or homemade and the house does not need to be immaculate in order to invite people in. We are inviting people into our LIVES, and your life is very full. The people who love you will understand that and be glad to spend time with you and your husband.
      I’m also in my mid-fifties, and so I hear you (loud and clear) on the old friend/new friend dilemma!

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  12. Okay, Michele, I have to tell you this. As you know, I’m in the throes of finishing a book manuscript, but I took a break last week to check out some of the posts from my party. Yours caught my eye. By the time I’d finished your post, I was so inspired that I read Jen’s book from cover to cover! (I’d bought it earlier this year, but hadn’t taken the time to read it.)

    You always do a wonderful job on book reviews, but this one really sings. Thank you so much for linking it to the Grace at Home party. As you might imagine, I’m featuring you this week!

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    1. That makes me SO HAPPY, Richella! I’m glad you were challenged by the review to open the book–and I’m glad you gave yourself permission to take a break! Thanks so much for letting me know!

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    1. Yes, especially because things will never be perfect! And I think it’s a thing that’s contagious, because if we dare to open our imperfect homes and lives, maybe our friends will also!

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  13. I LOVE the quote about opening the door when we’re not ready! That’s me about 99% of the time ;). I’ve learned to act as if the house doesn’t matter…because it doesn’t–it’s the people at the door!

    Like

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