Recently I read The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield. Below you can find a link to some of my favorite quotes and questions I developed for a women’s Book Chat at my church.
In light of reading the book, hospitality has been on my mind a lot lately. How do I live it out with use of my house, but also in life in general. Butterfield defines radical ordinary hospitality as seeing strangers become neighbors and neighbors becoming a part of the family of God. I really loved this simple idea.
And then, as I was coming up with the questions, it hit me. While she was definitely advocating for household hospitality, she was also giving a treatise on relational evangelism. Sometimes stranger evangelism and relational evangelism are pitted against each other. But in reality we need to see and understand there is a place for both. My husband is a street evangelist. Three seasons a year (he sits out winter) he goes downtown, hands out tracts, preaches the gospel, and gets into deep gospel conversations. He is also a husband, father, software engineer, an elder, and a neighbor. He forms relationships with those in his family, church, work, and neighborhood and has gospel conversations with those people when possible. Both forms of evangelism are good and right.
But getting back to the book…. I really enjoyed her writing. She is a beautiful writer! I loved hearing her stories and being encouraged by them and their ministry. And hearing about how open-door hospitality and being included in singing and devotions lead to her own conversion. It gave me a heart and a desire to open my life up more to the people around me. It made me think about hospitality in two ways: my home and my relationships.
Before this book, and even after reading it, I do consider our family fairly hospitable. We in no way, shape, or form practice nightly table fellowship, but I don’t think that has be the goal, for a family to be considered hospitable. Nightly table fellowship is what works for the Butterfield family – for their jobs, lifestyle, and personalities. I think Kent being a pastor helps them to accomplish this, so does homeschooling, and the kids being involved with swimming (usually a morning activity). In contrast, my husband has to commute in rush hour. He usually is home by 6pm, but occasionally it’s helpful for him to stay late at the office. My daughters love taking ballet. This will take up more and more evenings as they grow. We have one of our church’s small groups meet at our house on Mondays and our oldest is off to youth group on Wednesdays, and Thursdays have been set aside as Aaron’s street evangelism time. Nightly table fellowship, just isn’t going to work for our family, and that’s ok.
It’s important to not walk away from the book feeling defeated, having set the standard so high that you fail to take any of her wisdom to heart. Instead, ask “What can I do? Where can I start?” I, personally, can continue to be willing to allow friends to crash on my couch on short notice because it works better logistically than for him to drive the almost 2 hours home. I can have a handful of items on hand so that last minute, after church, lunch invites are easier to offer. (And be ok with picking up rotisserie chickens on the way home if I don’t have anything on hand.) Ultimately, I had an idea about turning our Friday pizza and movie nights into an open invite pizza and game night for all. My husband, the wise man that he is, suggested we start doing that monthly (instead of weekly) — he knows I can burn out easily.
The second aspect of the book that made be think was terms of personal relationships. It convicted me to make those phone call/text messages reaching out to people that I’ve been meaning to reach out to. To continue building friendships with people God has placed in my life. And, it has also made me realize that I am not superwoman. I do have a limited capacity. I am an introvert but God has not seen fit to make me a morning person, so 4 or 5 am mornings of quiet before the day gets started, just isn’t going to happen. And that’s ok. Recognizing that I need a day or two during the week to be at home, to get things done, to think, to just not talk, is ok. I realized after scheduling out a busy week and weekend that I was falling into bed at night with nothing left to offer my kids and husband. I needed to save part of me to be hospitable to them. This means we can’t have something going on every night of the week. We need time together just as a family to bake cookies and talk about the day. The point is, to not make my naturally shy, introverted personality an excuse for not being hospitable. But to also not feel guilty about saying “Is it ok if we plan that for next week or the week after?”
I highly encourage people to read the book, humbly taking in the wisdom they can and asking what is a small step I can take to be more hospitable? Don’t be overwhelmed or compare your family to hers. Do what you can in your life, in your community, within your relationships!
Click on the link below for the questions I wrote up for our book chat. Feel free to use them, edit them, and print as many as needed. It also includes quotes that I thought would be helpful for those at our book chat that weren’t able to read the book. (Hopefully to wet their appetite!)