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The Hospitality Commands: Building Loving Christian Community: Building Bridges to Friends and Neighbors Paperback – September 1, 1993
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About the Author
Strauch has been a teacher and an elder at Littleton Bible Chapel for the past 25 years.
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The author argues that hospitality is both a means to strengthen relationships within the church (Chapter 2 "Strengthening the Love of the Christian Family") , but it is also a neglected tool we can use to evangelize our neighbors and friends (Chapter 3, "Hospitality: A Launching Pad for the Gospel").
Strauch writes, "I don't think most Christians today understand how essential hospitality is to fanning the flames of love and strengthening the Christian family. Hospitality fleshes out love in a uniquely personal and sacrificial way. Through the ministry of hospitality, we share our most prized possessions. We share our family, home, finances, food, privacy and time. Indeed, we share our very lives. So hospitality is always costly. Through the ministry of hospitality, we provide friendship, acceptance, fellowship, refreshment, comfort, and love in one of the richest and deepest ways possible for humands to understand. Unless we open the doors of our homes to one another, the reality of the local church as a close-knit family of loving brothers and sisters is only a theory" (pg. 17).
That makes some sense, but is it biblical? Strauch says yes, and he backs it up with an impressive list of hospitality commands and examples from Scripture. (Rom. 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9, Heb. 13:1-2 among others). After thoroughly proving his case from Scripture, the author then seeks to equip his readers with ideas on how to demonstrate hospitality. "The belief that hospitality is important and the actual practice of hospitality are two different things. Many Christians never advance beyond the theory level" (p. 49). The author then follows by listing sixteen helpful hints to begin practicing hospitality as a church or as a family. At the end of the book is a 3 session study guide which makes this book useable for small groups or individual study.
If you are looking for new ways to obediently serve the Lord and step out in faith this year, consider getting this book and then "Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality." (Rom. 12:13).
Strauch argues that "hospitality" was a distinctive mark of the early church (6).
Christ brings people together as a family (10) that loves each other (12). That love opens up one's home and life to others in living out the Gospel (17). Inviting people into the home is key to hospitality (18).
Historically, home meetings have been the most fruitful base for evangelism (21). Especially when a meal is shared with another (24). The home was also the first place for travelling ministers to stay and work from (26). Hospitality includes generous, loving support for workers of the Gospel (29).
In the fourth chapter, he shows that hospitality is an actual command, not a matter of money or ability, but obedience (34). And all persons are to share in offering hospitality (37). The biggest stumbling block to this is our selfishness (38). Nevertheless, we are responsible to show hospitality to all Christians we encounter (40) - for which there may be unexpected reward (41). Christian leaders, in particular, must show hospitality (43). Except in the case of false teachers and unrepentant brothers and sisters (44). This chapter ends with a list (with Scriptures) of fourteen distinctive of Christian hospitality (47).
The final chapter is sixteen "helpful hints" for practicing hospitality - including some additional resources one might find useful.
The book includes a study guide for individual or group use.
I highly recommend this book in an age where we live as though we don't need each other and "what's mine is mine."
The one point at which I would like further clarification - especially as a minister - is how, when showing hospitality - to keep boundaries. For example, I prefer not to have people to my house, because it is my sanctuary - it is the one place I can go where people do not show up to make demands on me (in person, anyway). How might one keep the home, if one invites people in, from becoming a place where people believe they have a right to show up at any time and demand to be provided for because you are the minster and you "work" for them? Perhaps the answer is found in a mutual understanding of hospitality. I wish he had spent more time on this.