5 Simple Ways to Extend Biblical Hospitality

The Swanson family collected stray cats and stray people. I was one of them. I was sixteen years old, the new kid in school, and lonely. But the Swansons were kind, and when their son brought me home, they adopted me into the family. 

For three years, I ate meals at their table, watched television in their living room, and even joined them on an occasional family vacation. When they invited me to church, I said yes. They’d won my heart with their kindness, and I wanted to do everything the Swansons did.

Before long, I was attending church every time they attended. Two years in, God cracked open my heart. I realized I was a sinner in need of a Savior. Glory hallelujah, I surrendered my life to Christ and promised to follow Him with all my heart.

Across town, another family was extending hospitality to another “stray.” The Smoak family was sitting in the second row when seventeen-year-old David walked to the front of their church during the invitation.

His long hair touched his shoulders, and his eyes still held a hint of the alcohol he’d consumed the night before. But he seemed sincere. Desperate to change his ways, he knew he needed Someone more powerful than himself to take control of his life.

“God, help me,” he prayed that day, and God did. Soon, like the Swansons had “adopted” me, the Smoaks “adopted” David.

Not everyone is in the position or has the desire to adopt people like our friends did. Some of you can. But even if you can’t, 1 Peter 4:9 encourages Christians, “Be hospitable to one another without complaining.” God calls us to “share with the saints [Christians] in their needs; pursue hospitality” (Romans 12:13). The rewards are great. “Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).

Angels? Wow.

Thankfully, we can live out God’s command to practice hospitality in ways as different as we are. Remember—there’s a huge difference between entertaining and hospitality. Entertaining usually involves fancy dishes, silverware, and expense. Hospitality can be as simple as takeout pizza on paper plates.

If God is nudging you out of your comfort zone and into greater obedience in the area of biblical hospitality, consider these five simple ways to practice it.

5 Simple Ways to Practice Biblical Hospitality

1. Invite a younger woman over for tea or coffee and your favorite cookies.

When a young Christian woman and her husband moved in next door to us, in the spirit of Titus 2:4–5, I reached out and invited her over for tea and cookies. We had a lovely conversation, and God gave me several opportunities to share life experiences and (I hope) wisdom. 

Although we’ve never made a “formal” mentoring commitment, we get together at least once a month, always spontaneously, for tea and conversation. As we’ve gotten to know each other, our friendship has grown and our conversations have deepened. She often asks my advice on parenting or marriage issues and allows me to be a Titus 2 “older woman” in her life—over a pot of tea and plate of cookies.

2. Ask a neighbor or friend to take a walk with you.

We often think of hospitality as inviting someone into our home, but God has used my walks with friends and neighbors outside the home to accomplish some of the sweetest purposes. Whether we plan ahead or I send a spur-of-the-moment text, God does something when we walk together. 

Some of my walking buddies are believers. We share snippets of life interspersed with prayers as we log our steps. Other friends don’t know Jesus yet, so we spend our walking time sharing life, concerns, and thoughts. God always gives me an opportunity to sprinkle some spiritual “salt” into the conversation if I watch for it.

3. Take food to a sick, grieving, or hurting person.

As I mentioned above, hospitality doesn’t have to take place in our home. Sometimes it comes in the form of carry out. One day, I was sick with the flu and a kind friend texted me. “I’m dropping off Chick-Fil-A soup and crackers at your door. I hope it helps you feel better. I’m praying for you.”Oh, my goodness, that warm bowl of soup tasted like heaven. It nourished my sick body and ministered to my weary soul. Knowing someone cared enough to go out of her way to minister to me brought almost instant healing.

Hospitality in its purest form is seeing a need and meeting it. When we make it complicated, we hinder ourselves from ministering. Do you feed the neighbor kid alongside yours? That’s hospitality. Drop off a freezer meal to a grieving family for after the funeral casseroles are gone? Hospitality. Send a gift card that will feed a friend when she doesn’t have the heart or energy to cook? Jesus-inspired hospitality. 

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:40).

4. Ask a visitor or new member out to eat after church.

It’s hard attending a new church for the first time. Everybody knows everybody else and visitors feel like they don’t belong. But when someone introduces themselves and invites them for lunch? Oh, my!

At least once a month my husband and I plan either to eat lunch out after church (if the budget allows) or invite someone in. If we’re eating out, we choose an inexpensive restaurant near the church. If we’re eating in, I put a simple recipe in the crock pot, toss a bagged salad into a bowl, and arrange homemade or store-bought pastries on a plate. Voilà! I’m ready to welcome someone into our home. 

One Sunday we invited a couple with two teenage boys. I don’t remember what I served or what we talked about, but later they not only joined the church, they became some of our dearest friends. Thirty-eight years later, we’re still enjoying simple meals and warm conversation around the table.

5. Invite someone into your heart.

Inviting someone into your home is nice, but inviting them into your heart is heavenly. Despite (or probably because of) all our devices, people today are lonelier than ever. When we extend hospitality of the heart, we touch them in a supernatural way. Sharing bits of our life and genuinely caring about theirs is one way to be Jesus to them. 

Friendship involves effort. It costs us in time and resources. Sometimes we even get hurt, but it’s so worth it. The women who have most impacted my life have done so because they opened their hearts and invited me in. As I watched them live their faith lives honestly and transparently (notice I didn’t say perfectly), I grew in my love for them and in my love for God. As my love grew, I felt a desire to share that love with others, and the gift goes on . . .

Who might God be calling you to extend hospitality to? What might He be planning to do? 

In 1983, I met David when mutual friends invited us out on a double date. We ate pizza, shared our salvation testimonies, and marveled at God’s grace. A year later, in front of our church families, along with the Swansons, the Smoaks, and our double-date friends, we said, “I do.”

This summer, David and I will celebrate our forty-second and forty-fourth spiritual birthdays. On December 28, we’ll commemorate our fortieth wedding anniversary. 

These joys and others too numerous to count happened because kind Christians extended biblical hospitality. It’s a ministry we hope to continue until Jesus comes back or He calls us home.

Pray, plan, and prepare to marvel at what God will do as you obey his command to practice biblical hospitality.

Romans 12 makes it clear: all followers of Jesus are called to practice hospitality—something we seem to have lost in our socially anxious, fiercely independent day. Through You’re Welcome Here: Embracing the Heart of Hospitality, a six-week study based on the teaching of Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, you’ll develop a rich, biblical understanding of true hospitality and a passion to see God use your gifts, your home, your time to reach toward others with truth and love. We’d love to send you a copy when you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts

Editor's Picks


Revive Our Hearts

By elevating God’s Word, Revive Our Hearts calls women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.