I've always said that our house has a ministry. Throughout the 24 years we have lived here, we have opened our doors to exchange students, missionaries, friends, and strangers. We've hosted book clubs, Bible studies, wedding and baby showers, graduation open houses, and even a jewelry party! It has been a place of welcome for many years. I have enjoyed feeding people, giving them a place to rest and feel cared for. So when I saw this book, I was interested in this author's take on inviting people into her home.
I found out that The Gospel Comes with a House Key takes hospitality to a whole new level! The author, Rosaria Butterfield, calls what they do "radically ordinary hospitality" and I would have to agree with the radical part but I find it anything but ordinary!
She defines this hospitality as "Using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangers neighbors, and neighbors family of God. It brings glory to God, serves others, and lives out the gospel in word and deed." Its purpose is "To build, focus, deepen, and strengthen the family of God, pointing others to the Bible-believing local church, and being earthly and spiritually good to everyone we know."
In the preface, Butterfield explains, "Offering radically ordinary hospitality is an everyday thing at our house. It starts early, with minestrone soup simmering on one burner and a pot of steamed rice warming on another. It ends late, with Kent (her husband) making beds on the couches and blowing up air mattresses for a traveling, stranded family. A truly hospitable heart anticipates every day, Christ-centered table fellowship and guests who are genuinely in need. Such a heart seeks opportunities to serve. Radically ordinary hospitality doesn't keep fussy lists or make a big deal about invitations. Invitations are open."
Years ago, when she was an avid atheist, she had been invited over for a meal, in the same way, by a "nice Christian" neighbor. She found herself preparing for a battle with the "enemy" as she felt Christians to be. But, she writes, "Nothing happened in the way I expected. Not that night, or the years after...Nothing prepared me for this openness and truth. Nothing prepared me for the unstoppable gospel and for the love of Jesus made manifest by the daily practices of hospitality undertaken in this one simple Christian home."
Does this compel you to read this book? It certainly pulled me in and I read it from cover to cover in just a few days.
As a result, I am wondering about a us and our house. I'm definitely not ready to hand out our house key with an open door policy. But perhaps I could go about getting to know my neighbors better by gathering them so they can get to know each other also. It certainly starts there. I also am left thinking more about what it means to be hospitable. I define it as being a welcoming person, open and without an agenda, except to love and show kindness, in Jesus' name.
In years past, an elderly couple who lived just up the street from us (who have now moved to a retirement facility) hosted several summer ice cream socials for families in our neighborhood. We always enjoyed these gatherings, getting to know new people each time we were able to attend. Since they are no longer able, I think it would be good for us to offer an opportunity to meet and welcome those who live around us.
If all this interests you, I suggest that you get a hold of this book and be prepared to be challenged, encouraged, and led into new ways of being hospitable in your house with a ministry to its neighbors.