It always seems more difficult to be hospitable at the end of my budget then at the beginning. Perhaps you can relate. Even when I budget for hospitality, it always seems more worthwhile endeavors appear. Of course, by “more worthwhile” I mean more selfish and self-focused endeavors.
It is a much smaller mental hurdle to buy dinner for a friend at the beginning of the month than at the end. I make all kinds of plans at the beginning of the month as to how I am going to spend my money and my time and my talent. I think about whom I want to invite over, what I might serve. I think about whom I want to meet up with for happy hour or dinner and pay the tab. I think about how can I secretly bless someone with a gift card or a bag of groceries.
The thrust of biblical hospitality is not to throw extravagant, outrageous parties.
But more often than not, I do not execute all of these things. Instead, I allow myself to get pulled along by other schedules and other needs and then, finally, the need for a break, and I shut myself up in my house and enjoy the silence and the emptiness.
Blast! This is not hospitality! This is the opposite of hospitality! Well, let’s think about next month then. This is how it comes to be that I’ve been “planning” a housewarming party for the past 15 months and have yet to execute it.
I can’t be the only one stuck in this weird cycle. Are you are here with me? If you’re not, I commend you and would like to know your secrets for maintaining a social calendar. If you are, I invite you to look with me at some practical steps we can take toward being more directed and intentional with a hospitable attitude.
1. Build Hospitality into Your Lifestyle
Make a plan for ways you would like to be intentionally hospitable each month. This can include hosting people to dinner inside and outside your home, birthday and holiday gifts, meal blessings for new parents or a neighbor recovering from surgery, and snacks or beverages for community gatherings. The options for this are almost endless.
2. Build Hospitality into Your Budget
Make a plan for how much you are able to spend per month on the list you have created. Keep in mind you don’t have to do everything on your list every month. Perhaps you have a three-month rotation on this list. Maybe you can only afford to do one thing a month. That’s great! Do it! There is plenty you can do on a zero budget. Invite someone over to watch a movie, or even a favorite TV show. Have people come over with a board game and a snack for game night. Simply sharing your space and an experience is an expression of hospitality.
3. Execute Your Hospitality
Do what you’ve decided to do in the manner you’ve decided to do it. For example, as a college student with no regular income you may only be able to afford to send handcrafted birthday cards to friends and family. What a great start! Or maybe you are recent empty nesters who still end up with way too much food at dinner. Are there neighbors you can invite to share your meal? What about that poor college student who sends such sweet birthday cards? I am sure she would love your meal.
Faithfully and consistently love the people God has put around you to love.
As a church we try to do these same things, too. We look at the people, neighborhoods, and city around us and we dream about what we’d like to do to help them and to introduce them to Jesus and God’s people. Then we look at our budget and determine which things on the dream list we are able to execute. Then we do it. The thrust of biblical hospitality is not to throw extravagant, outrageous parties that everyone talks about for the next year, but rather to faithfully and consistently love the people God has put around you to love.
What Will You Do Next?
As our church comes to the end of our fiscal year and starts dreaming about what God might have for us to do in the next, I want to invite you to prayerfully consider how you might be able to participate in that. Perhaps it starts with committing to regularly give to the mission of Mars Hill. Perhaps you’re already one of the faithful givers and are thinking about giving more. In either case, you can do so here. Mars Hill doesn’t exist on just money, though. We also need faithful volunteers to help run Sunday services by greeting, ushering, making and serving coffee, teaching in kids’ ministry, and general facility upkeep. Mars Hill is not asleep in between Sundays so we also need help during the week to lead and host Community Groups, lead Redemption Groups, serve as receptionists during the week at the offices, help with administrative tasks, help build programs, execute creative projects and many, many other roles.
If you are not currently on mission with us, I invite you to do so. This month is the perfect time to start.