One of the most undervalued tools in a pastor’s toolbox is the exercise of hospitality.
When listing the characteristics of those qualified to serve as pastors, the Apostle Paul wrote, “An overseer must be . . . hospitable” (1 Timothy 3:2).
Despite the fact that Scripture makes hospitality mandatory, many pastors seldom use their home as a venue for ministry.
Here are three reasons why pastors neglect this important tool:
Power of hospitality
First, pastors don’t realize the power of hospitality.
We are told that every day the early Christians “continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together . . . And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:46-47).
Notice that the explosive growth of the early church was linked both to the public preaching of the Apostles and the regular eating of meals in private homes. The point is, hospitality opens hearts to the Gospel message.
It is a pastor’s secret weapon and a powerful evangelistic tool. Some pastors may find they’ll introduce more people to Christ at their kitchen table than from their pulpits.
Concerned with appearance
A second reason we neglect hospitality is because pastors (and their wives) are too concerned about the appearance of their homes.
My wife, Deanne, and I enjoy hosting gatherings of people in our home. We have a cozy family room, with a large fireplace and a soft leather sofa and a living room with more formal furnishings. But we’ve noticed that our guests inevitably prefer to congregate in our kitchen!
We don’t need large, fancy homes with expensive furnishings to practice hospitality. We really only need a warm pot of soup, a cozy kitchen table, and an open heart!
Failing to prepare
Third, we don’t practice hospitality as we should because we fail to prepare in advance.
It usually doesn’t work very well when pastors spontaneously bring unannounced guests home for dinner. (Try that and let me know how it works for you!)
Instead, a pastor and his wife should agree in advance to have guests in their home. Pastors, you should help out with cleaning the house, setting the table and preparing for guests. Then invite guests to come home with you after church on Sunday afternoon.
It is powerful. In fact, it is your secret weapon.