My church is made up of mostly young couples, that is to say, young adults in their twenties and thirties having babies or just starting out. I’ve been attending for over a year bc I agree with their theology. However a lot of them have known each other since diapers and there’s a problem with friendliness towards visitors. It took a long time before I was accepted into the fold. One thing that happened while I was still new and bothered me was a concept one couple came up with called `family dinner`. Basically they announced that they wanted to get to know other couples so they had a new program where three spouses would sign up to eat at their house and bring a side, then they (the hosts) would provide the main dish. Kids could come to of course. I’m sure it was meant kindly, and a few months later I know and like the couple but at the time it miffed me a little. It seems to me if you want to know someone better, you talk with them a bit and invite them over… It’s about you extending hospitality out to them…. not, `hey, WE want to meet more people so YOU should sign up to meet US!` …not to mention it was for couples, so it was another exclusion of sorts. I’ve shared the story with my Dad, an Emilio Post of sorts (ha ha) and he said that it was good intended and meeting new people was a good idea, but still felt a little odd. What does the etiquette dame and readers think? 0922-13
A lack of hospitality is ubiquitous to not only the entire culture but endemic in churches. The irony of that reality is that Christians are commanded by scripture* to show hospitality which is also a primary criteria for church leadership. It really doesn’t matter which church one attends, the problem is so widespread. It is the exceptional church that has a very hospitable congregation.
So,what to do? My personal belief is that I can only be responsible for myself and therefore I take the initiative to offer hospitality myself as opposed to waiting for someone else to do it. I have encountered many women over the years who complain of being lonely yet when I ask if they are doing any hospitality themselves, the answer is nearly always, “No”. I’ve known women who have cried at the receipt of an invitation to a holiday luncheon I host yet as the years roll by, it becomes apparent that while they enjoy the fruits of others’ hospitality, they themselves see no particular reason to do it themselves. They do absolutely nothing and appear to be waiting for others to clamor to invite them to something. It becomes a very one sided interaction that is sure to lead to relationship failure and as someone who is always taking the lead to extend hospitality, I cannot begin to tell you how discouraging it can be to feel like I am pulling that hospitality “sled” all by myself. I’ve become less merciful in regards to women who complain of loneliness yet take no steps to change that by reaching out to others to begin forming friendships through hospitality.
I searched your submission and could not any reference to you being a hospitable person to your fellow church members. It’s basically a gripe about other people’s lack of hospitality when the reality may be that you need to step up and become more hospitable yourself.
So, what does hospitality look like? While I do host big parties for families and couples, most of my hospitality these days is one on one or small groups. I host an annual holiday luncheon for 6-8 women, regardless of whether they are married or not. I have one woman over for lunch and serve chicken salad, fruit salad and chips…nothing complicated. I meet others at restaurants and I pay for the bill…..a local Chinese lunch buffet is a favorite spot. Invite several single adults to lunch after church, in the building, and bring a crockpot of soup or chili as the main dish. One friend of mine cannot easily leave her home to come to my house or go to a restaurant due to the need to care for an elderly parent so I bring lunch with me when I visit. Look for ways to be hospitable. A funeral years ago gave us the opportunity to serve others when it became apparent that the entire family would be hastily traveling to the burial site an hour away immediately after the conclusion of the funeral service which was right at lunch time. We packed 27 lunch bags for them to take and eat on the road.
And it doesn’t need to expensive. Friends of mine are well known for serving homemade milkshakes and grilled cheese sandwiches to guests for an after church lunch. Another couple was so poor that they served pancakes. They are the two most hospitable families I know because they understand that it is relationship building that is important, not whether the food was high end.
* An excellent book on the subject is “The Hospitality Commands – Building Bridges to Friends and Neighbors” by Alexander Strauch