If you are looking for a great book study on hospitality, let me recommend to you The Hospitality Commands, by Alexander Strauch. It is simple, short, straightforward and firmly rooted in scripture. It is easily applied to a read alone study or a life group/mentor group looking for a short 3-4 week study. There is even a three-part study guide in the back.
In chapter one of his book Hospitality Commands, Alexander Strauch lays a simple yet poignant assessment of the dismal practice of hospitality today and issues a call to reclaim what was once a distinctive attribute of the church. Citing several early church historians, he shows plainly the magnificent outpouring of Christian hospitality in the life of the first-century believers.
“One of the most prominent features in the picture of early Christianity, which is so rich in good works, is undoubtedly its hospitality.” Gustav Stahlin
“During the early centuries of Christianity, it was the Roman church more than any other which was distinguished by the generosity with which it practiced this virtue [hospitality]… A living interest in the collective church of Christ throbbed with peculiar vigor throughout the Roman Church…and the practice of hospitality was one of its manifestations.” Adolf Harnack
Strauch goes on to say that if this is true, “then we are missing a valuable jewel in the crown of the Christian life and service.”
In the next few chapters, Strauch then turns his attention to the great many blessings that come from the practice of hospitality. Essentially this is what we are missing out on if we neglect to participate. Hospitality is first of all familial and true Christian hospitality takes place within the context of brotherly love. This happens as we serve not only fellow Christians (family, church members, itinerate evangelists and teachers) but also as we love the lost and hurting as they experience the body of Christ. Therefore, Strauch states, that hospitality is “a launching pad for the gospel.”
There is a chapter devoted to helpful hints and practical suggestions for implementing hospitality in your home. This includes planning ahead and making it a priority, making a list of people who might be encouraged by your hospitality, start with your neighbors and don’t forget the holidays!
Strauch’s book is a quick and accessible start to reclaiming a crown jewel of the Christian life. Pick a copy up on the Adult Ed book cart this Sunday and start putting into practice the hospitality commands of scripture by building loving community among your friends and neighbors.
Author: Rev. Wes Andrews