By Paul Wilkinson

Hospitality is often the genesis of our discipleship! I was very arrogant and self-righteous when I graduated from seminary (now I’m only arrogant; I’ve shed the “very”). I would get incredibly frustrated as I walked the halls of our church encountering discussions of college football, weather, and new restaurants tried the previous night. I’d think to myself: here’s the one time a week in the one place a week where we can really let it rip with respect to talking about God and reveling in God . . . AND NOBODY DOES IT! I would quickly write off people who tried to talk about things other than Bible and theology.
I misunderstood what it meant to disciple others. The chitchat wasn’t a waste of time; rather, the chitchat was the gateway needed to meet the initial needs of the individuals for the sake of taking them deeper later. In short, the chitchat was discipleship, too; it was just the very initial stages.
Is your group warm and welcoming? Mine wasn’t. People stuck because they wanted the doctrine but we didn’t grow well in attendance, they didn’t grow well spiritually, and we never had “community.” I encourage you to model and champion for your group what it means to welcome a visitor into group.

  • Be standing to receive them.
  • Food makes a difference.
  • Ask them about their lives if they’re willing to share.
  • Introduce them to one or two others in your group.
  • Wear nametags!
  • Take a few core members of your group with you so they can see you do it.
  • Empower them to be hospitable.

Give visitors a reason to come back. People need the Bible teaching we offer. Often, they are not ready, or perhaps not willing, to receive it. May we be hospitable to receive them for the sake of helping them become who the Lord designed them to be.