Pleasant Hill Baptist Church
"The Church That's in
Business for God and God's Business is People"
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2
There was a time when you couldn't walk through the door of an evangelical church without being approached by four or five well-meaning believers who wanted to make you feel at home. Not only did Christians welcome strangers to worship, but churches had well-oiled visitation programs assuring that newcomers would receive friendly follow-up visits in their homes. Where has the hospitality gone?
A lack of hospitality toward strangers has crept into churches, where many believers feel safer ignoring those they don't know. Hospitality is an unglamorous subject that doesn't get much attention from the pulpit. The command from the writer of Hebrews to "show hospitality to strangers" (13:2) contradicts a protective society's warning to children to not talk to strangers. Yet in Romans 12:10-13, Paul puts "practicing hospitality" on par with being "devoted to prayer" and "serving the Lord."
For the most part... we don't know what to do with visitors! And so…
hospitality must be modeled from the top down. The biblical concept of it should be preached from the pulpit, taught in Sunday school, and modeled by spiritual leaders. In 3 John 5, the elder Gaius is praised for taking care of strangers, and in two different letters Paul lists hospitality as one of the qualifications of a church overseer (1 Tim. 3:2 ; Titus 1:8). Welcoming outsiders begins with the leaders in a church. If the leaders model an attitude of hospitality, they can infect the rest of the church.
If churches fail to provide hospitality, then the responsibility of initiating fellowship falls on the newcomer. Newcomers may have to be the initiators if they expect to feel welcome in a new congregation. But churches must continue to remind members of the gospel message of hospitality. For inspiration… look to the final sentences of Acts, where the apostle Paul "welcomed all who came to him" as he proclaimed the kingdom and taught about Christ.