the good way


A lifestyle of Missional hospitality

Hospitality is missional when it creates a safe, open space where a friend or stranger can enter and experience the welcoming spirit of Jesus. As followers of Jesus we want to express compassion and mercy to all, particularly the poor, the marginalized and the overlooked. We want to love our neighbors as ourselves.

“The essence of hospitality is a heart open to God, with room prepared for the Guestness of the Holy Spirit, that welcomes the presence of Christ. This is what we share with those to whom we open our doors. We give them him.” Karen Burton Mains

When we talk about biblical hospitality, we are referring to the ancient practice of welcoming the stranger. Throughout church history, the followers of Jesus have taken seriously the call to extend hospitality, and in doing so they believed that in welcoming the stranger, they were welcoming Jesus himself. In Matthew 25: 35-40, Jesus says:

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

As followers of Jesus we recognize that we are all strangers in search of home. We are all equally in need of his grace and mercy and we have all received the compassionate welcome of God. Christ-like hospitality begins with us experiencing and enjoying the welcome of Jesus ourselves and then extending that same sense of welcome to others. Our world is full of strangers, not just people who are literal strangers to us, but people estranged from their own country, their own culture and families, even estranged from God and their deepest sense of self. Living a life marked by Christ-like hospitality means being a safe person who extends to others the grace, shelter and presence of Jesus.

Henri Nouwen states that the journey towards true, Christ-like hospitality begins with recognizing our hostilities towards others. All of us carry blatant or subtle biases. It’s important that we recognize that we cannot bypass these hostilities and somehow arrive at true hospitality. Our hostilities cannot be overlooked, ignored or denied if we are to truly move towards a presence of Christ-like welcome. Hospitality is a heart posture and becoming more Christ-like will involve us doing the work of uncovering the hostilities we carry and inviting Jesus to bring healing and redemption.

Hospitality is the invitation to open up every facet of our lives and share it with others. It’s about erasing the silos, and creating safe space for those who have been estranged or forgotten, to find a sense of home in Christ.

Session video

Personal Reflection

Take some time to reflect on the following questions:

  1. What makes me feel welcomed by others? What makes me feel like an outsider?
  2. In what way have I experienced the welcome of God? What is my experience of being received by Jesus?
  3. What subtle forms of hostility prevent me from engaging with others?
  4. What does it look like for me to pursue relationships across racial, ethnic, socio-economic lines?
  5. How is God inviting me to carry a spirit, or presence, of hospitality?

Session Resources

To go further with this session, take a look at some of the following activities, readings and other resources:




Miscellaneous resources