Show Your Kids How to Be Hospitable to Your Neighbors

By Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
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The Gospel comes with a house key, and it starts with showing our children how to be hospitable to neighbors.

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   Listen to a broadcast about hospitality with Rosaria Champagne Butterfield.

Imagine a world where  . . .

  • Neighbors said Christians throw the best parties in town and are the go-to people for help on big problems and issues.
  • Children in your neighborhood knew Christian families were the safest people to ask for help when troubles impact their lives.
  • Every Christian knew his neighbors enough to be of earthly and spiritual good.
  • Our children are trained up to be leaders in Christ, enjoying the benefits of a relationship with Jesus and extending those blessings to everyone he or she knows.

This is true community. But in today’s world, it seems to be a radical concept because few even know their neighbors’ names. Radically ordinary hospitality is this: using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangers into neighbors and neighbors into the family of God. The goal here is to build and strengthen the family of God and to teach this concept to your children so they, too, can bring glory to God by living out the Gospel in your community:

Modeling hospitality

Our kids hear the Gospel accounts of how Jesus served others and how the first church shared everything its members had with each other. They need to see this same picture of hospitality and community demonstrated in our families. Parents who allow their homes to be open and transparent help their children understand how Christians can demonstrate Christ’s love and service to a watching world. Kids learn best by example, and by welcoming our neighbors into God’s design for our family, they recognize a larger mission to family.

When our children witness and participate in a family’s hospitality, they also learn to extend it to others, accompanying their friends and schoolmates in their joys and their suffering because they’ve seen that level of authenticity at home. Encourage this heart of authenticity and friendship with your kids by showing that you care for their friends and schoolmates. Cry with those who are hurting and laugh with those who are glad. Pray together for these friends.

Answering the call

It can be tempting to believe that hospitality is a concept for those who have a special gift for it or possess more resources than we do. We’re busy with our own lives, our own dreams. But Scripture calls all Christians — parents, children, single parents, singles, married couples — to practice hospitality in their homes. Indeed, loving our neighbors as much as we love ourselves is the most complete satisfaction of God’s laws (Galatians 5:14).

Building community

When we invite our neighbors into our lives, they’ll witness how God works in our families, in our imperfections, when we ask for forgiveness when we fail. They’ll see us struggling with sin, and they’ll realize they don’t have to be perfect to be loved by God or be used by God.

This is the world that the Bible inspires us toward. It’s the world that Jesus prays for us to create in our families. We do these things so we can prepare for what is coming: the return of Christ and our inheritance in the new heaven and earth.

That is the nuts and bolts of it. Biblical hospitality starts with you and me and our open door and our dinner table and our family poised for giving. This is not complex. The Gospel comes with a house key, and it starts with our families.

Copyright © 2018 by Rosaria Butterfield. Content adapted from from The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World, ©2018. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187.

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About the Author

Rosaria Champagne Butterfield

Rosaria Champagne Butterfield is a former tenured professor of English and women’s studies at Syracuse University. She became a Christian in 1999, describing her conversion as a “train wreck” because of how it radically transformed her life, identity and relationships. Her memoir, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, describes that difficult journey. Rosaria has taught and ministered at Geneva …

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