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Practicing Hospitality Individually

There are many excellent books, articles, blog posts, and other resources about how to open your home and provide a welcome. You’ll find some of them listed on our hospitality resources page. The questions on this page will focus on cultivating a hospitable heart.

Ruth Haley Barton defines “inner hospitality” as “a spirit of openness and receptivity to those unlikely moments when the friendliness of a stranger or the strangeness of a friend causes our hearts to burn within us.” Here are some ways to practice that kind of openness and receptivity.

Faith Practices

  • Pray for opportunities to practice hospitality, and be alert for the Spirit’s prompting.
  • Read these Scripture passages on hospitality, and spend a few days meditating on each one. What stands out to you in these passages? What new insights have you gained? How do these stories inspire you to provide food, shelter, and protection?

Opening Your Heart to Strangers

  • Read Ruth Haley Barton’s article Welcoming the Stranger. She suggests seeing strangers as people through whom God might speak. How might that change your interactions with people you rub shoulders with in public?
  • What might you do personally to cultivate hospitality in your church community and in other communities of which you’re a part?
  • Watch Why You Should Talk to Strangers by Kio Stark on, and then challenge yourself to talk with one stranger each day in the coming week.

Online Hospitality

Today’s adults spend an average of two hours and 24 minutes per day on social media. That makes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms a significant setting for cultivating hospitality.

  • Open the social media platform of your choice and look at your “friends” list. Would you say the people in your circle are (1) generally a lot like you, (2) generally somewhat like you, or (3) generally quite different from you? How might you broaden your contacts to include a wider diversity of cultures, ethnicities, ages, and social backgrounds?
  • Take a serious look at your social media activity over the past week. How many of your posts and comments exude a spirit of hospitality, welcome, and positivity? How many promote division, controversy, or negativity? How might you increase your online hospitality?