The practice of hospitality: Your home on mission

By Dhati Lewis

To develop healthy disciple-making practices, we must recapture the art of hospitality.

Our castle or His weapon?

Have you heard the expression, “Every man’s home is his castle”? Often times, Christians use their homes as places of refuge to protect them from the outside world. Pastors especially can fall into this trap, seeking a safe-haven from the demands of full-time ministry.

My wife and I see things a little differently.

Our houses are God’s houses, to be used first and foremost for Him. The houses we live in are tools for making disciples, a weapon to assault the gates of hell. Our home is a place where our family (the Church) grows in unity with one another.

From Angie’s perspective: A pastor’s wife

I remember as a young adult going to my mentor’s home. I watched as they interacted, prayed together and went about everyday life. I was blown away by the simplicity, yet profound way they each interacted with one another. I was not formally exposed to the Scriptures per se, but this family invited me to live and experience their world, whatever that was at the moment.

Today, I am married with six children and my husband is a lead pastor and the director at NAMB. With managing myself and seven other lives, to be honest, I don’t have discretionary time. But, I do have a house and natural rhythms I can invite people into.

The disconnect

Early in our marriage, Angie and I realized there was a discrepancy between what we saw in Scripture and what we lived out. As we walked through the gospels, we saw over and over that Christ was with His disciples. His life intersected with theirs.

Today, it seems like we have turned life-on-life discipleship into once a week meetings where we talk about life without ever living life together. If life-on-life relationships are essential to disciple-making, we quickly realized we would have to leverage our home to do so.

Using our home as a weapon

As urban practitioners, working to make disciples in the city of Atlanta, hospitality gives us the ability to overcome barriers of race, ethnicity and socio-economic differences that come from living in a diverse city.

For our family, this means our home is almost always full of people. For three weeks each summer, we invite students to live with us as part of an intensive discipleship crash course. For the rest of the year, we invite young adults to live with us to further discipleship relationships. We study the Bible and focus on applying its truth to every aspect of life. We cover issues like:

  • Budgeting
  • Conflict
  • Chores
  • Health
  • Spiritual disciplines
  • Father wounds
  • Identity
  • Marriage
  • Children

Having people in our home is a vital tool for us to engage in life-on-life discipleship. We are able to truly share our lives and share in the lives of those who live with us.

What about you?

Many times when people hear how we do this, they respond; “I can’t have people live with me. So I can’t use my home.”

Don’t fall for that.

My family took the principle of hospitality and applied it in a way that works for us. You can do the same.

As you look for ways to use your home as a weapon for the kingdom, here are a few principles to keep in mind.

  • Host people, not just events.
  • Be intentional.
  • Be counter-cultural.

Think intersection, not addition. What do you already do in your home that you can invite others to do withyou? Mundane chores become platforms for disciple-making when you invite others to be with you.

Hospitality doesn’t happen by accident. The house you buy, the apartment you rent and the way you arrange your furniture can all be used to show hospitality.

Disciple-making involves life-on-life relationships, which means your real life, messy and all, must become a space you invite others into. It’s sacrificial. Radical. Rewarding. Difficult. And so very sanctifying. Don’t settle for the comfort-driven cravings of our culture.

You teach what you know, but you reproduce who you are.

To pastors, pastors’ wives, church planters and planters’ wives; remember, hospitality is a requirement for elders. Don’t take it lightly. Your church members will replicate what they see in your lives. If you want your church family to display radical, sacrificial, Christ-like hospitality starts with you. It starts with your home.

Published August 24, 2017

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Dhati Lewis

Dhati Lewis is President of Send Network for the North American Mission Board and Lead Pastor of Blueprint Church in Atlanta, Georgia. He earned his Master of Arts in Cross Cultural Ministry from Dallas Theological Seminary and most recently received his Doctorate of Ministry in Great Commission Mobilization from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dhati has seven beautiful children and is married to Angie, a discerning woman who empowers and encourages him to live fully in his identity in Christ. He is the author of both the Bible Study and book, Among Wolves: Disciple Making in the City.