Hospitality Ministry Description
The most valuable earthly possession a
person can have is a warm, supportive friendship. People without
relationships are miserable people, but relationships cannot be
purchased. They arise from our innermost needs, grounded in our
God-given ability to love and care for others. A growing, healthy
church nurtures healthy relationships.
In all cultures,
friendships are developed through hospitality. True hospitality is a
spiritual ministry. In today’s busy world, a counterfeit hospitality
often undermines our desire to meet this basic human need. People
think, “I’d really like to have someone over, but . . .” Fear of being
inadequate in time, skills, or a suitably furnished home creates in
many Christians a reluctance to undertake hospitality.
congregations face some real challenges in becoming caring churches.
These include a reluctance to get too friendly with secular people
which results in few friendships with non-Christians. Adventist
standards for leisure activity may pose a problem. And many homemakers
work outside the home, resulting in very little time to prepare for
“entertaining.” In order for the gospel commission to be realized, the
Adventist church needs a renewed spirit of Christian hospitality.
Bible suggests several attributes found in a ministry of hospitality. A
focus on the needs of others rather than on one’s own is exemplified in
the stories of Abraham and the three visitors (Genesis 18), the
Shunammite woman (II Kings 4:8-37), and the Good Samaritan (Luke
10:25-37). A willingness to share whatever one has, even if it is
meager, is demonstrated in the widow of Zarephath (I Kings 17), the
little boy with a lunch (John 6:9), and the disciples from Emmaus (Luke
A loving heart seeking relationship is exemplified
by Mary (Luke 10:38) and in Simon’s home (Luke 7:36-50). Courage to
risk developing relationships is seen in Abigail (I Samuel 25) and in
Rahab (Joshua 2).
Strikingly little is said about skills of
cooking, the possession of a beautiful home, or ability in
conversation. In fact, the only reference to this is Christ’s gentle
remonstrance with Martha not to “fret and fuss” about the details of
preparing a meal for Him. He pointed her instead to the priority of
being with Him. Thus, simplicity and service characterize the type of
hospitality found in the scriptures.
A counterfeit form of
hospitality is often confused with true Christian hospitality. This
“entertaining” is ego-centered and based on materialistic concepts sold
in advertisements and the media which suggest that being a “good” host
or hostess demands gourmet cooking ability, a spotless and sparkling
home, witty and charming conversations, etc. This form of entertaining
can result in bondage, excessive labor, preoccupation with one’s own
needs, and reluctance to be spontaneously generous.
Duties of the Hospitality Team
ministry to which a person is called when he or she becomes a member of
the hospitality team will include the following duties:
1. Study and preparation. Development
of a deeper understanding of Christian hospitality and the supporting
skills requires study in a small support group. The hospitality team
should meet once a month or once a quarter. It is important to spend
time in caring for one another and in spiritual nurture through Bible
study and prayer in order to be able to really love and care for
2. Taking care of visitors. Organize a
system for visitor hospitality which will provide follow-up for their
needs as appropriate. This usually includes providing a Sabbath meal.
In smaller churches, this function may include the greeter activities
on Sabbaths. It also means contacting each visitor, listening to each
man and woman, and doing the things they need and expect in order to
feel cared for by your congregation. The tradition of a festive Sabbath
dinner, with animated conversation and rich fellowship is key to this,
but no group activity can replace individual ministry.
3. Caring for new members. There
is a special need for a system of hospitality for prospective and new
members, as well as members with special needs, which will integrate
them into the fellowship of the church. This may take many forms and
may overlap to some extent with other activities in your congregation.
It could include a pastor’s Bible class, a new member class, home Bible
study groups, a special fellowship dinner for new members once or twice
a year, visitation and personal ministry, or the assignment of a
special friend or “spiritual helper.”
4. Coordination. You
must promote and cooperate with efforts to encourage social fellowship
among church members as a whole. What is the relationship between your
hospitality ministry and the social committee of the church or the
small group ministry? You need to settle these questions in discussions
with the other leaders involved and work together with them in building
the total program of your congregation. In this meeting there will be
time for group study and discussion of a Bible passage about
hospitality, sharing of experiences and blessings, and scheduling
Responsibilities in the Local Church, by the Church Resources Consortium, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventist Church. Copyright © 1997, Revised 2002.