Dhati Lewis, pastor of Blueprint Church in Atlanta, Georgia, came to teach our staff team about hospitality. He brought to the table a refreshing perspective on what true hospitality is. As a man, I appreciated that this was incredibly helpful teaching about hospitality that never referenced crafts or decorations!
Dhati said, “Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where a stranger can enter and become a friend. It’s not meant to change people, but to create a space in which they can change.” Hospitality is all about being hospitable to a real person, not creating a hospitable place. In fact, hospitality is often messy because people are messy; it could mean bringing a new neighbor in to a hectic family meal, or having an abused woman knock on your door in the middle of the night for help. The people matter more than the place.
He gave us 9 ways to practice hospitality.
* The graphic above was recreated from what Dhati presented in person.
9 Ways to Practice Hospitality
1. Be Authentic
Authenticity is a gospel issue. If the gospel is real it should change us – every aspect of us, from our personal life to our church life. Moreover, those spheres of our life should all have marks of hospitality, because being hospitable has to be who you are. Hospitality is not an action we are called to do, but part of our identity as who we are to be. This is the driving point behind Dhati’s apologetic on hospitality. You’ll notice that this list is not one of things to do, but ways to be.
2. Be Contextual
The gospel must be contextualized for the hearer can understand it, meaning that we can change the context but not the content of the gospel. Yet we can’t put our confidence in our ability to contextualized. Paul said that “I have become all things to all men so that some will be saved.” We contextualize with a sense of urgency, but don’t rest our hope in our own skill in contextualizing.
3. Be Communal
Make the gospel both tangible and visible through outward practical demonstrations of the gospel that meet the real needs of the people in your community.
4. Be Relational
We must invite people into relationship, not time and space. If we restrict our invitation to join our community to only a once a week activity, we’ve immediately closed the door to community if that person can’t meet then. But if we invite someone into relationship, that is something that happens everywhere and all the time.
5. Be Present
Attempt to shrink your world and where, how, and with whom you spend your time. Commit to being present in smaller spaces (your neighborhood, community gathering places). Try to find common ground in which to be fully present with one another.
6. Be Intentional
Establish clear wins with short and long term goals in every aspect of your life (see the graphic above).
7. Be Integrated
As you consider how to bring other people into your life and schedule, think intersection of lives, not additions to schedules. Invite people into your rhythms, practices, and times of community – dinner over at your house, working out together, finding common bonds through family, kids, or community.
8. Be Genuine
Treat people like people, not projects.
9. Be Explicit
Be explicitly christian but intentionally relational.