I recently sat with some amazing youth workers in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan where we talked about best practices for hospitality. While I shared some of my ideas and stories I also collected their stories and best advice for growing a culture where hospitality is normal. In our western culture hospitality has become something that is used for commercial gain or to leverage our influence and the hospitality that Jesus compelled his followers to show has become unusual – radical.
Or desire is that Jesus brand of hospitality hospitality would move from being radical to being normal in our churches, youth groups and Alpha teams. We’re looking for men and women who open their spaces and lives to strangers with ease and grace. We’re also eager to see the hospitality of Christians as a compelling reason to follow Jesus. And we want to welcome Jesus himself, because we are told that we serve Jesus when we practice hospitality. Whether you run Alpha or you’re an usher or you work the till at McDonalds, you can be radically hospitable.
Here are 5 categories for our best practices in creating a culture of Radical Hospitality:
- Introducing strangers to the group (rather than having the new people introduce themselves).
- As people arrive, it’s comforting to be welcomed into a space.
- Pay attention, people from out of town may want to be invited. Don’t wait to be asked.
- Be persistent. People may say no once or twice out of politeness.
- Look for those who cannot repay your hospitality.
- Travel. Be a stranger who needs hospitality.
Take care of the details
- At a conference or gathering, planning to meet the needs of guest in extravagant ways. Providing for their transportation, having materials available.
- When a group is new or unfamiliar, name tags help break the ice and ease uncomfortable situations.
- Have a yes ready. Let it be your first answer and figure out how later.
- Run Alpha. Provide space for faith, discussion and respect.
Open your home
- Invite people for meals.
- Expect guests and cook extra.
- Empower guests to feel at home. Let them know where everything is and that they’re welcome to use the space as they please and to enjoy themselves.
- At home policy: help yourself to anything in the kitchen.
- label the cupboards so that everyone can quickly see where things are.
Take time and slow down
- Enjoy a meal together.
- Don’t be late. If you’re in a hurry, you can’t take care of the needs of others as well.
- Be available and aware of the lonely and troubled. Be ready to listen.
- Have coffee with young men/women
- Allow those you are serving to show you love and hospitality.
Give what you have
- Be on the lookout for something material or spiritual that will be needed at just the right time. (Be a waiter).
- Share a treat/candy with those you work with to give them a sense of worth and appreciation.
- Always be prepared to give a friendly smile and hello.
- Be prepared to care for the homeless and less fortunate.
- Offer rides.
- Accept rides and buy coffee or be generous with gas money.
- Share what you have, with everyone you meet. Even on the street.
- Help students with tutoring.
These are some pretty good lists, but what would you add?
Have you experienced meeting Jesus as you showed radical hospitality?
Next time: top tips for training a team in hospitality.