Hospitality can be defined as “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” But what does it really look like?
An online search for hospitality brings up photos of people with smiling faces, ready to help. The hospitality industry is powered by making people feel welcomed, valued, and respected by showing them the utmost care and service.
Hospitality is the waiter with a white towel over his arm, politely asking for your order.
Hospitality is the clerk at the hotel, asking if you’d like a room with a view of the lake.
Hospitality is a little bell at the desk, allowing you to get help easily when you need it.
What does hospitality look like in the Church?
The church is not a hotel, a restaurant, or a store. But it is a place of hospitality. We have been shown the greatest example of lavish and extravagant welcome into the family of God, and we are called to extend that same invitation to others.
For hundreds of years, the pineapple has been a symbol of hospitality. According to historians, pineapples became a sign of wealth and generous welcome for European families when the expensive and scarce fruit was imported all the way from the Americas in the seventeenth century. European hostesses with a pineapple on their table were in essence saying, “Welcome to our home – we want to make you feel extravagantly valued here.”
Is your church sending that message?
We are convinced that God has called the church to be a generously hospitable place. But we also see a group of people that have often been ignored – who have perhaps been given leftovers instead of being welcomed by a fresh pineapple. Among them are people who do not thrive in traditional small group settings: those with intellectual disability or ADHD, who speak English as a second language or can’t speak at all.
That’s why we’re so passionate about creating Bible study materials that are accessible to all people. Moreover, we hope that people with and without disabilities will learn in community, together. Sitting at the same pineapple-adorned table, as it were.
In her book Bread and Wine, author Shauna Niequist says it this way:
“The heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved. It’s about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment.
“When you offer peace instead of division, when you offer faith instead of fear, when you offer someone a place at your table instead of keeping them out because they’re different or messy or wrong somehow, you represent the heart of Christ.”