When I look at hospitality as practiced in the Word, I have a convicting sense of open homes—open lives, shared tables, ready comfort for weary travelers wandering on dangerous missions in their work for the Kingdom. The theme begins in the early records of the church. In Acts 2:46-47 it reads:
“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.”
The home was integral to the early church. Formal worship for these Jewish Christians continued for many years to center traditionally in the Temple. But, the home was the place where Christian fellowship occurred. Notice what Acts 5:42 records:
“And every day in the temple and at home they did not cease preaching and teaching Jesus as the Christ.”
The inclusion of Gentile believers and rejection by unsaved Jews brought the trend toward home churches. References in the New Testament abound.
“To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house…”
In Romans, Paul sends greetings from his co-worker Gaius, “who is host to me and to the whole church.”
In Colossians, we hear of Nympha, “and the church in her house.”
In I Corinthians, we discover these phrases:
“The churches of Asia send greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord. All the brethren send greetings.”
In light of these and the many other references not included above, the injunction to “practice hospitality ungrudgingly” to one another makes reasonable sense. There were no building programs at this time. Church planting meant drawing together a group of people. In fact, the word “church” referred to a community of Christians. It did not indicate a structure.
Karen Mains has long had an interest in Christian hospitality and is the author of the best-selling book, Open Heart, Open Home.
An award-winning author of several other books, Karen continues to write content for her Christian blog, “Thoughts-by-Karen-Mains.” In so doing, she desires to touch the lives of Christian women and men and help them find ways to walk closer with the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, through silent retreats, spiritual teaching, women’s retreats, Christian vacation opportunities, and other ministry activities, Karen helps each Christian woman and man receive vital spiritual food.
For decades, Karen Mains and her husband, David, have served God through religious communications—radio, television, and print publication. The are the co-authors of the Kingdom Tales Trilogy: Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration. To find many valuable resources for pastors and churches at theMainstay Ministries main website, please click here.
In addition, pastors will find special resources to help them create effective, life-transforming Sunday sermons by visiting David Mains’ website by clicking here.
Through her Hungry Souls ministry, Karen serves as a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men, and teaches a mentor-writing class. And, through the Global Bag Project, she is working to develop a network of African women who sew exquisite cloth reusable shopping bags. This microfinance women opportunity helps provide a much-needed sustainable income for struggling African families. For more information on this critically important project, please click here.