When was the last time I had an unbeliever in my home? Do I know the names of my neighbors? Do they even know I am a Christian? I’ve had to ask myself these questions recently. And I’ve had to do some repenting. I am just not as hospitable as I should be.
In the recent years there has been an uptick in books published on the topic of biblical hospitality. I haven’t had the opportunity to read all of them (who has that kind of time?). But I have read three of them, and I am glad I did.
If you are interested in learning more about what the Bible has to say about hospitality, check out the brief summaries of those three books below. They are listed in the order in which I would recommend you read them.
The Hospitality Commands by Alexander Strauch.
This short book of about 50 pages is a great introduction to the topic of biblical hospitality. Strauch describes hospitality as “a missing crown jewel” in the life of many contemporary Christians in the West. He also explains how hospitality is a way to express love for the church family and how it’s primary function is that of an evangelistic “launching pad for the gospel.”
But perhaps the most beneficial part of this book is the simple, straightforward explanation of the New Testament passages that address hospitality. It is here that the seemingly ignored principle of hospitality is put before the eyes of the reader and the weight of the believer’s responsibility to be hospitable is made clear.
Strauch ends with a chapter on some practical tips on how to practice hospitality and he includes a study guide that can be used for small group Bible study setting.
I would start with this book because it is a simple and biblical treatment of the subject.
The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World by Rosaria Butterfield.
Even though I recommend Strauch’s to be read first, there is no doubt that The Gospel Comes with a House Key is the most stirring book on hospitality (and perhaps the gospel in general) on the list. Butterfield argues for “radically ordinary hospitality” by weaving biographical anecdotes together with theological reflection and practical lessons about her own adventures of opening her home to family, neighbors, and strangers.
Butterfield, a former lesbian and tenured English professor at Syracuse University, describes her own conversion which resulted from the hospitality extended to her by a Presbyterian pastor and his wife. She notes that coming to faith in Christ in a Post-Christian world often means being forsaken by friends and family. Therefore, she concludes, Christians must be ready to offer a gospel that comes with a house key, promise that sinners will find a new family and a new home (sometimes quite literally) with God’s people.
Read this book slowly, be moved by the gut-wrenchingly honest stories, and enjoy the hospitality of Butterfield home.
The Simplest Way to Change the World: Biblical Hospitality as a Way of Life by Dustin Willis & Brandon Clements.
The Simplest Way to Change the World is the most practical book on the list. Willis and Clements argue that opening up your home to your neighbors is the simplest way to do evangelism. Though I sometimes thought “I could never be as hospitable as Rosaria Butterfield is” while reading The Gospel Comes with a House Key, I never felt that way while reading The Simplest Way to Change the World.
If you have come to understand the biblical commands after reading Strauch, and if you have been moved and motivated by Butterfield, this book will really make the path to hospitality seem concrete and realistic.