I recently posted an excerpt from Tim Chester’s book “A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community, and Mission around the Table”. To make it simple, it was all about the importance of hospitality. That got me thinking. Why don’t we hear much talk about hospitality when it comes to the qualifications of elders?
It’s not that hospitality is never mentioned in Scripture.
1 Timothy 3:2, “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach…”
Romans 12:13, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
Hebrews 13:2, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
Titus 1:8, “…but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.”
1 Peter 4:9, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
In fact, I don’t think I have ever heard someone ask this question in regards to a person being qualified as an elder, “Does Jim open up his home to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ to strangers?”
Why? Here are a few of my hunches…
- I believe the fact that we don’t talk much about elders living lives of hospitality reveals that we honestly don’t value it very much in our churches or in our leaders. This is a rather obvious deduction to make but I think it is helpful just to be painfully honest.
- We think of an elder as a leader who oversees what happens inside the church building. We are living under an old, unbiblical paradigm whereby ministry only happens in the church building or during a programmed event.
- We may see our homes exclusively as a refuge from the world, not a place of ministry.
- We think hospitality is a spiritual gift that someone else has and therefore we are off the hook.
- Hospitality is not even on our spiritual radar because we have not seen someone model it for us.
To reach our culture with the love of Jesus Christ we are going to have to embrace the biblical mandate to live as people of hospitality.
Your thoughts? What are some other reasons you think hospitality is undervalued in our churches? What can we do to change it?