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The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World Hardcover – March 30, 2018
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“Artfully woven into the fabric of who we are, each of us possesses an urgency to be included, an ache to be known, and a longing to be welcomed. In this book, Rosaria describes how the good news of the gospel not only meets our deepest needs but transforms us into cohosts who invite others to meet Jesus. Rosaria Butterfield’s enthusiasm for the unparalleled expression of hospitality―the Son of God on the cross drawing all men to himself―is what energizes her to practice radically ordinary hospitality and invite us all to do the same. This book will stir your imagination to generate creative ways to incorporate radically ordinary hospitality into your own life as well.”
―Gloria Furman, author, Missional Motherhood and Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full
“God strongly advances his cause by raising up prophetic voices of fresh insight, bold words, and powerful impact. Rosaria Butterfield is just such a voice for God in our time. The Gospel Comes with a House Key is Rosaria’s heart reaching out to our hearts, calling us to love our neighbors with sacrificial hospitality. This book is going to shake us all up in the most wonderfully destabilizing way.”
―Ray Ortlund, Lead Pastor, Immanuel Church, Nashville, Tennessee
“This book isn’t for those who want to live the comfortable Christian life. Rosaria proves there is no such thing. She has a unique way of blending personal story and theological teaching that challenges the reader to engage in areas of both agreement and disagreement. I was sharpened well in both cases.”
―Aimee Byrd, author, Why Can’t We Be Friends? and No Little Women
“It’s easier than ever to live in communities with no real sense of community. Neighbors don’t know neighbors, and our lives are lived online rather than on the front porch. Rosaria Butterfield demonstrates how living a life of radically ordinary hospitality can allow strangers to become neighbors, and, by God’s power, those neighbors can become part of God’s family. I couldn’t put this book down―it’s compelling, challenging, and convicting.”
―Melissa Kruger, author, In All Things and The Envy of Eve
“One cannot spend any time at all with Rosaria Butterfield without a renewed sense of how good the good news really is. This book is a needed call to the church to model the hospitality of our Lord. As our culture faces a crisis of loneliness, this is the book we need. The book will inspire you and leave you with a notebook filled with ideas for how to practically engage your neighbors with the welcome of the gospel.”
―Russell D. Moore, President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
“The biblical call to show hospitality is one of the most overlooked or misunderstood commands in Scripture. We either ignore it or mistake it for what our culture calls ‘entertaining.’ Rosaria Butterfield gives us a vision of hospitality that pulses with the beating heart of the gospel itself. We know a God who sought us out, took us in, made us family, and seated us at his table. It’s a vision that is bracing and attractive. It daunts us, but it shouldn’t. I wonder how different our homes, churches, and culture would look if we took it to heart.”
―Sam Allberry, Speaker, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries; author, Is God Anti-Gay? and 7 Myths about Singleness
“One of the hallmarks of the people of God is supposed to be hospitality. But in an age of commuter churches, towns disemboweled by shopping malls, and lives that are overscheduled and full of ceaseless activity, hospitality is something which, like true friendship, is at a premium. In this book, Rosaria Butterfield makes a bold case for putting hospitality back into the essential rhythm of the church’s daily life. She sets the bar very high―and there is plenty of room here for disagreement on some of the proposals and details―but the basic case, that church is to be a community marked by hospitality, is powerfully presented and persuasively argued.”
―Carl R. Trueman, Professor of Biblical and Religious Studies, Grove City College
About the Author
Rosaria Butterfield (PhD, Ohio State University) is an author, speaker, pastor’s wife, homeschool mom, and former professor of English and women’s studies at Syracuse University. She is the author of The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert and Openness Unhindered.
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*Pro tip, mine, not hers, Walmart is the easiest place to get housekey copies.
1. When a book helps me interpret passages from Scripture that puzzle me. Rosaria did that in two instances in this book. (I won't give them away.)
2. When a book makes me want to read the Bible more. This one is one of those.
3. When a book so engages me that I can't put it down. Again, this was one of those.
4. When a book convicts as well as comforts me (i.e. it's full of the gospel). Ditto.
I have been looking forward to reading this book; first, because the author is one I’ve admired from afar ever since I read her first book, Confessions of an Unlikely Convert; second, because hospitality is a ministry dear to my heart. I had high expectations for this book; and sadly, it slightly disappoints. Perhaps I’m being nit picky and I apologize if I sound harsh, but I need to give my honest review. It is perplexing because though I do not love the book, I do not have a problem recommending it to others.
I’m not sure if this is promoted as such, but it is part memoir, part theology lesson, part christian living kind of book. Interwoven are the theological basis, biblical illustrations and personal story about hospitality. Mrs. Butterfield is a good writer and could very well be the most qualified to talk about hospitality, but I still find issues in the book that I cannot give it a 5-Star rating.
These issues are not theological in nature, so I can still in good conscience recommend the book. For sure, it is highly engaging, saturated with Scripture, and convicting to the core. I’ve had to stop several times to repent for past sins in the area of hospitality and pray for God’s grace to help me a better hostess.
I cried reading about her tumultuous relationship with her mother. I especially love that she encourages us to not idolize safety and security, something American Christians are obsessed with. We need to live our ordinary lives radically and one way we do that is through hospitality. Here are some favorite quotes:
I know I can’t save anyone. Jesus alone saves, and all I do is show up. Show up we must.
Radically ordinary hospitality is this: using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangers neighbors, and neighbors family of God. It brings glory to God, serves others, and lives out the gospel in word and deed.
Christians must learn to practice radically ordinary hospitality not only as the hosts of this world but, perhaps more importantly, as its despised guests. Let’s face it: we have become unwelcome guests in this post-Christian world.
God calls us to make sacrifices that hurt so that others can be served and maybe even saved. We are called to die. Nothing less.
The job of an ally makes the cross lighter, not by erecting or supporting laws that oppose God’s law, but by being good company in the bearing of its weight.
Now for the disappointing parts...here are just a few:
Perhaps this is unavoidable when writing a memoir, and I have a sensitivity to humble-bragging because of my own pride problems, but I find her constant use of her own personal triumphs in hospitality as a little irksome. I don’t want to judge her motives, but it gets old when I read one hospitable act by the author after another. She did use other people’s examples, but it’s mostly about her and her family’s sacrifice and good works. This is especially interesting because she talks highly of her husband who would not “tarnish by bragging about it (one’s coming to faith through their hospitality) on a blog post or on Facebook. Kent is a Christian man. Christian men do not steal glory from God. This is the kind of news that moves mountains, something to be addressed in the sacred moment of table fellowship.”
Her schedule seems unmaintainable. Doing intentional ministry every day could exhaust even the most devoted Christian. As a minister’s wife, I understand that being in full-time ministry is a 24/7 kind of job, and opportunities to serve could come at any moment. But her way is to have something planned every day. Maybe these are assumed, but I ask her, When does she devote time alone with her husband? When does she foster one on one time with her kids? It is hard to imagine she has time for them just by reading about her schedule.
One of the characters she mentions in the book is Hank who starts as a grumpy neighbor and becomes a friend. Later on, it is found out he was leading a secret criminal life. I understand and admire the author’s compassion for her friend, but her intent focus on this made her question the fairness of his incarceration, made her forget his serious crimes that hurt a lot of people. His sins are somewhat downplayed. Yes, as a Christian, he has been forgiven, but he still has to face the consequences of his sins.
She quotes and uses as a good example a Catholic priest who “regarded hospitality as a spiritual movement, one that is possible only when loneliness finds its spiritual refreshment in solitude, when hostility resolves itself in hospitality, and when illusion is manifested in prayer.” This sounds mystical and, as an ex-Catholic, I seriously have an issue promoting any of them.
I found two typos: principal when she meant principle, tails instead of tales.