Common sense hospitality  

Posted by Denis Haack in , , , ,

A few years ago Margie and I spent some time with Rob and Kirstin Vander Giessen-Reitsema and were surprised to find they are Dutch. They are also kindred spirits, people committed to a Kingdom vision of life, a couple convinced that the gospel transforms everything it touches. One of the many things they do is produce a little quarterly publication called Road Journal, something that we read from cover to cover and then leave on our coffee table for guests to discover. When I found this brief essay in the Spring 2009 issue of Road Journal, I emailed Kirstin for permission to publish it here. I hope doing so will prompt you to find out more about the Road Journal (here), about their ministry *culture is not optional (here), and to sign up to receive their email magazine, catapult (here).

One of the things I like about this essay is that it takes an aspect of Christian faithfulness—opening our homes and lives in warm safe hospitality—and reminds us it’s significance is that it isn’t significant. What I mean is that it isn’t extraordinary. It’s ordinary, a normal part of life, and that’s what’s extraordinary because God delights in infusing his grace into the ordinary for his glory. I’m tired of spectacular events (except for rock concerts). But for life and friendship and faith, I prefer a living room filled with simple food, nice music, and a safe conversation that no one controls (except the Spirit of God).

Ten ways to make your house more hospitable

by the 1110 community in South Holland, Illinois

1. Lower your standards of clutter control. We used to fear inviting people over out of concern that we didn’t have time to clean the house. After some reflection we realized two important things. First, if we wait until we have time to clean the house, we will never invite anyone over. Second, it wasn’t that our house was unclean-just kind of cluttered. Sweep all the junk mail off the table into a box, hide it in the basement and you are good to go.

2. When guests are coming over, plan meals that are exciting and boring at the same time. Spicy chicken chili and homemade bread; jambalaya and corn bread; Indonesian nasi goreng and homemade applesauce—this allows both those with broad-minded taste buds and less adventurous taste buds to eat their fill.

3. Invite people over at least four times. Some people say no the first couple of times out of politeness, or because they think you are not serious.

4. Invite your friends to bring their friends who aren’t your friends (yet). We have met so many cool people this way.

5. Live along a major highway. Our house is ten minutes off I-80/294. People we know have to pass by our house a lot. It is a good excuse to stop.

6. Let people know that it is okay to stop by without a lot of advanced notice. We let people know that if we aren’t home, we won’t answer the phone, and if we are too busy, we tell them that, too. At the same time, don’t wait until you aren’t too busy—because that ain’t gonna happen.

7. It is easier to include one or two more if you are usually feeding a big number in the first place. There are four adults and five children living in our house. We have a minimum of nine people eating dinner any given night. One or two more doesn’t affect the amount of food we are preparing much.

8. Don’t work too much. Two of us work full time, two of us work part time. We all have at least part of the year when we have some flexibility about when we work. This allows us to cook.

9. Have guests join in food preparation and table clearing. This might sound inhospitable, but it actually helps guest to feel like part of the family—at least, that’s how we rationalize it.

10. If guests are coming over and you are too tired to cook, order out. Having someone over is mostly about the discussion and the joy of spending time sitting down together. Chicken chili is better than the local pizzeria, but local pizza is better than not getting together.

Copyright © 2009 *culture is not optional

This entry was posted at Monday, July 27, 2009 and is filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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