by Aubrey Coleman
Hospitality is a wonderful way we, as Christians, are able to open our lives and homes to share the love and hope of Jesus. Whether a home-cooked meal or simply inviting someone over to pray together and encourage one another, hospitality is a gift. A gift we experience when showing it to others and when it’s shown to us. Sometimes we can be really great about scheduling hospitality into our days. We likely reach out to someone in person or over the phone to place a date on the calendar. This can be a helpful way to commit to hospitality by placing it on the schedule, communicating it, and in some ways setting it in stone. There’s nothing wrong with a scheduled approach to hospitality. In fact, many seasons of our lives will require it in order to actually make hospitality happen! But for some of us, we wonder if there is a way to display spontaneous hospitality without always having to put it on the calendar?
When we think about spontaneous hospitality, it can look a number of ways. Some days we may be surprised to find ourselves with a large margin or a lot of free time. Instead of squandering it away or using it to fill with more errands or menial tasks, how can we practice spontaneous hospitality? Here are a few suggestions:
- Buy for unscheduled guests
When we make our grocery lists, we can go ahead and buy for guests. That may look like adding a few servings to a couple of meals so that when we have the space to invite someone over for dinner someday, we won’t panic that we don’t have enough food. We can buy an extra box of tea or a case of soda that we purposefully sit to the side and only use for guests. We can do the same with a few boxes of brownie mix and a tub of ice cream on hand to easily use to invite someone over for dessert!
We can keep it simple. It really doesn’t have to be complicated. And even if we do find ourselves without the necessary groceries, snacks, and serving sizes, we can call in a pizza and a couple liters of soda. Hospitality doesn’t require gourmet meals. It simply provides a place at our table.
- Be okay with the mess
Another necessary element of being spontaneous with showing hospitality is that we must be okay with the mess and chaos of our homes and days. Of course, it feels nice to be able to clean and ready our homes for guests. We like the feeling of a presentable home for guests to walk into. But, sometimes, our desires for bringing people only into clean homes actually can consume our time in a way that keeps them out. Sometimes we may be too concerned with house prep that we minimize our time to actually have people over. And I’m sure many of us feel a sense of comfort when we walk into homes that look lived in and loved. It reminds us that we don’t always have to have everything in order because life is happening, and God is sustaining us with His sufficiency even in our weaknesses. Hospitality doesn’t require a perfectly tidy home. It simply means making others feel at home.
- Show hospitality in the in-between moments
So much life happens in the in-between moments of the day, and this is a beautiful way we can show hospitality with spontaneity. This could look like asking a friend to join you for an evening walk to catch up and pray together. It could look like inviting a new couple from the church over for lunch after the service. Or possibly, it could look like having someone over for afternoon tea while the kids nap. There will be free space in our days that doesn’t hold a space on the calendar. Instead of first looking to fill that time with chores or errands or endless to-do’s, consider who might be available to welcome into the in-between moment of your day. Oftentimes, it may look like sifting through your contact list until someone says yes, and other times people won’t be free. But by practicing this continually, we find ourselves in a position to serve and show hospitality even when it isn’t necessarily convenient for us.
Spontaneous hospitality allows others to see that they are not an inconvenience to our days and schedules. It creates space for people to feel loved and cared for in such a way that we are willing to sacrifice our free time for them. But also, it helps us kill the idols that tempt us away from showing hospitality like perfectionism, control, appearance, and the like. It cultivates humble and willing hearts in us, ready and available to receive the opportunities God provides for us. Showing spontaneous hospitality, again, will look different in every season. But, consider today one way you might be able to be a little less scheduled and a little more spontaneous in the way you practice hospitality.