COLUMBIA, SC – Hospitality evangelism isn’t new or trickery rather a way to connect with your neighbors and begin to live out your faith before them. Hospitality got lost in the me generation so we need to be more intentional in our efforts to invite people into our homes and show them the love of Jesus. Adapt these practices to your environment.
1. Reserve a night for “neighbor night.”
Years ago, when my wife and I started talking about wanting to develop a lifestyle of biblical hospitality, we made a decision that changed everything for us. We always felt like we were too busy to really practice this in a substantial way, but we realized we had most Tuesdays open. So we decided to block off Tuesday nights for the purpose of being “neighbor night.”
Neighbor night was specifically designed for us to host people with whom we were building relationships—whether it was a non-Christian friend or neighbor, a Christian who was struggling or someone God just had on our minds recently. The idea was just to make a little bit of extra food—whatever we were gonna make anyway—and have them over. This changed the game for us, because it took so much of the hassle of scheduling out of the equation. When this went into effect, anytime my wife or I met someone we wanted to have over, all we had to say was “What are you doing next Tuesday night? We’d love to have you over.”
This practice, without a doubt, has been the most effective means of practicing hospitality we’ve ever experienced. We’ve watched God do so many incredible things over those simple meals in our homes. Of course, this doesn’t have to be every week—it can be on what your schedule allows. But if you don’t put it on your schedule, the odds that it will ever happen drop tremendously.
2. Practice the “always rule.”
The idea of something like neighbor night often brings up questions like “How will I meet people to invite over?” or “How do I even meet my neighbors?” Of course, you can start by practicing hospitality with anyone—friends, co-workers, acquaintances, etc. But often one of the best places to focus on is your neighbors, and the always rule is a helpful tool in that regard.
This is something I created for myself years ago, because I noticed that when I am outside in my neighborhood, that’s my absolute best time to meet my neighbors. But it always just feels like the wrong time, doesn’t it? I’m getting my kids out of the car, or I just got my mail, or I’m unloading groceries. A neighbor that I don’t know walks by, but I’m busy so I just smile and wave. And if I ever see them again, it will be months or years.
So, the always rule is a rule that when I see a neighbor that I haven’t met yet, I have pre-decided that I am going to stop and meet them and have a brief conversation. Always. This has been a tremendously helpful change for me to build relationships with those that live around me. Embrace the “always rule” and stop what you’re doing to be friendly.
3. Use sports.
Many of us love sports, and so do your friends, coworkers and neighbors. If you’re all going to be watching a game, why not watch it together at your place? Sports can be a super simple way to get started practicing hospitality. Remember it isn’t about the game or which team you may prefer, rather about building organic relationships with the people God has placed around you.
4. Use shared interests.
The same idea for sports can be applied to an endless number of things. You can use a TV show as a common interest to have people over, awards shows, video games or books through hosting a book club. These are low-barrier ways to get people doing things they are already interested in while also building a relationship with you. Win-win! If you are stumbling over this idea of shared interest it may be because you have yet to meet your neighbors and begin to learn about them. Just get started and listen. When someone recognizes genuine interest they will open up and share more than a casual acquaintance.
5. Host a neighborhood cookout.
If you want to get to know your neighbors, hosting a neighborhood cookout is a fantastic way to start. We did this when we moved into our current house, and we had neighbors that had lived two doors down from each other for 15 years who met for the first time at our house. People often have a genuine desire to meet their neighbors and get to know them better, but most people just won’t take the initiative to do it. Maybe it’s a fire pit in your driveway with fresh coffee and good conversation. Maybe it is making your home a collection point for a food drive or such where your neighbors come to your home with a purpose. The ideas or endless.
6. Practice reverse hospitality.
Reverse hospitality is when you do something hospitable for someone by taking something to their house. For example, when new people move into your neighborhood, you could practice this by making something and taking it over to them. This is often a great first touch point to begin building a relationship with someone. We live in a world where connecting with others, even those living next door takes effort. Be the one to step out, ring the doorbell and say, hello. The Lord will lead you from there.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brandon Clements is a pastor, author and serves with the North American Mission Board’s Send Network. Brandon works with church planters across North America to engage communities with the Gospel message.