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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.
Adventist 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.
The 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 24:13- 32).
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 remon- strance 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
The ministry to which a person is called when he or she becomes a member of the hospitality team will include the following duties:
Responsibilities in the Local Church. North American Division Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists. Copyright © 1997, Revised 2017. Permission to copy for local church use.