Hospitality - A Beginner's Guide

Enjoy this blog post, where Peter Lynas shares some practical ways we can pursue hospitality in our everyday lives.

So it is always good to start with a little Greek - bear with me - it is worth it!

The Greek term that is often translated as “hospitality” is the word φιλόξενος (philaoxenos). It is made up of two words. First, ‘philao’ which is one of several Greek words for love - in this case brotherly love. The word ‘xenos’ which makes up the second half of the word means “stranger” or “immigrant,” and is where we get the word xenophobia which is the fear of strangers/immigrants. Hospitality is the exact opposite of xenophobia!

Romans 13 tells us to pursue hospitality. The word pursue really means to persecute or go after something hard. So, when we read in Romans 13 that we are to pursue hospitality, we need to think “chase after strangers or outsiders and love them like we would our own brother or sister.”

Practically speaking, what does it look like to go after hospitality hard? Here are a few ideas.

1.     No devices at the table

Depending on how addicted you are to your phone, try a coffee break or a meal without a device. If you are hosting, invite others to place their device in a basket when they arrive. This is just about trying to create the space to actually talk and listen to one another.

2.     Say grace

Try pausing and saying it to yourself in work. Model it to, and with, your kids at home. Be bold when you are out in a restaurant and say it out loud. If you are feeling really brave follow my friend Gav Calver and when your food comes say to your server that you are going to thank God for the food and ask if there is one thing you can pray for them. 

3.     Reckless giving

Systematic and organised giving is good, but sometimes we need to take our lead from the woman who pours perfume over Jesus’ feet. On occasion I have decided to give money to the next person I see begging, or to everyone I see that day - no questions asked. For me that means that I have to think ahead and have change and if not, they get whatever I have, which can be costly for me. I try to engage the person and tell them this is my deal with God for that day to bless them.

4.     Involve guests

In our family, we like to involve our guests, rather than having everything perfectly ready for them - that is the difference between hospitality and entertainment. Philao love is about treating someone as an equal - what better way than involving them? Sometimes we ask people to help set the table or, especially if there are kids, to help make some flatbread. So, think of a way to involve your guests rather than just putting on a show for them.

5.     Offer something to someone

Hospitality begins with small steps, so start with offering something to someone building up to the stranger.

  • Bring in a fresh coffee in the morning for a work colleague or make everyone tea at break time.

  • Bring some buns into the office and when asked why, be brave and tell them about an amazing talk you heard at church!

  • If you can’t easily host yourself, invite someone out for a picnic or to a neutral space.

  • Invite someone over for lunch after church - it doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated - a simple soup is great.

  • Think about a feast or event for your neighbours. You can ask others to bring things along, the point is to get people together.

6. Q dinners

Q is great organisation that helps us think and live better. On the week beginning the 12th November, they are encouraging people to host a dinner. Q Dinners is not about setting aside our differences; it’s about coming together in spite of the differences that threaten to divide us. Basically, it is about inviting people round for a meal and discussing stuff that really matters. It is great way to take the next step on the journey of hospitality. You can find out more here - https://www.qdinners.com

And remember hospitality is about taking risks - but as we step out, we are not alone, God is with us.

Be blessed,

Peter