We moved into a new house last week. It's a 100-year-old brick two family flat that we converted into a single family home. After living in tight quarters (with one bathroom), our family is in awe of the open space, 10 foot ceilings, and a garage the size of a small warehouse.
Eight years ago, I was sold on living in a small house. Reasonable mortgage payments. Less to clean and maintain. And I always felt like the pastor needed to live in a small house to show humility. Like a vow of poverty, a small house could be a badge of modesty. A large house could be perceived as gaudy, excessive, and materialistic.
But two things happened. First my family grew, and people started feeling sorry for me. Instead of saying, "Look how humble our pastor is," they said, "Our poor pastor" as they walked in to find kids stacked like sardines and a line to use the toilet. (My son: "Dad, can I pee in the backyard?") Modesty turned to pity. And maybe my modesty was misplaced.
Second, we invited fewer people into our home, and when we did it was a challenge. We had a group of seminarians and their wives over last fall. We pieced together one long table that spanned two rooms and trapped nine people along a wall for three hours.
There are a number of New Testament references to hospitality (Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13:2; I Pet. 4:9). In fact, being hospitable is a qualification for being an elder, or pastor (I Tim. 3:2). Opening your home is a tangible way to express love and faith. When you've sat on my couch, ate at my table, and drank my beer, you're "in." Because of the potential for hospitality, we looked for houses with open floor plans, accessibility, and adequate space.
We live in a society wrought with broken homes and lonely people. Hospitality is one way to show acceptance and love to those unfamiliar with such forces. A stable, secure, and open home provides a venue for our family to care for our neighbors. More important than the bricks and mortar, the home provides the space for us to put our faith and values on display.
We realize that God has given us a massive house. The shock still hasn't worn off that we live here. We feel greatly compelled to leverage this house for the good of others. Give me examples of how you do hospitality.