The Practice of Hospitality: It’s Not a Church Growth Strategy

Top Text: The Practice of Hospitality Mockup: Pastor Speaking during video during Bible study on Hospitality

Imagine the Apostle Peter jumped into a time machine and zapped right into modern times to visit a modern church service. I wonder what He’d think. First, he’d be impressed with the advancement in technology and I also assume He’s be relieved to see Cesar had no power outside of Little Caesar’s pizza. My main fascination would be to see his reaction to modern day churches. I can’t even begin to wrap my head around what he’d think. Coffee shops. Lasers. Full-fledged daycares. Parking lots the size of grocery stores. While none of these are bad, it certainly looks very different than the movement sparked at Pentecost.

Far before the church had bookstores and baby-proofed nurseries, things looked far more simple. The early church met around dinner tables and gathered in living rooms. The House of the Lord primarily met in the houses of the Lord’s people. I love that thought. Fortunately, I have been privileged to see similar movements spark throughout the world in modern times. I’ve worked with underground churches in Asia and house churches in the states. There is something powerful and deeply personal about seeing a community brought together by nothing more than a shared faith and hospitality.

Hospitality. That is the topic I would like to explore today. Why? Because I believe that truly embracing the practice of hospitality has the power to unlock your greatest potential as a pastor. Hospitality is the doorway to life-giving community, which offers healing and hope to people that deeply need it. We must refuse to assume our ministries only take place in brick and mortar. Ministry is just as powerful in your living room as your youth room. Prayer is just as powerful at the hospital as it is in front of your pulpit. A hospitable heart allows your ministry to expand from your walls and wash throughout your city. A welcoming heart is at the very core of your calling, so let’s see what God expects of you when it comes to a heart of hospitality and what it means for our ministries.

Hebrews 13:1-2

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

NIV Bible
Hospitality is not a growth strategy, it’s a responsibility.

Hospitality can often get hijacked as a church strategy. We build hospitality teams, train greeters, and ensure everyone leaves church with a branded coffee mug. These days it seems that churches can be better at the hospitality business than hotels. We have gotten really good at it, haven’t we? If I could stretch your perspective though, there is a difference in true hospitality and good guest services. Don’t get me wrong. Having a a solid first impressions team is a vital goal for any church. However, the expectation in Hebrews is clearly personal. It’s our job to ensure that this lesson translates into our lifestyles not just our volunteer teams.

Why is it a responsibility though? Like why does God care so much? I believe it’s because God knows that hospitality is healing. Truly, your kindness could change a life. There is a reason why the word “hospitality” and “hospital” sound so similar. They come from the same latin word that means “healing.” A life of hospitality is a life of healing. When you open your arms to someone, you are telling them that they matter to you and they matter to God. When you invite someone to share a coffee with you, you are telling them they are worthy. When you welcome strangers, you turn outsiders into guests. When you show kindness to people you don’t know, you turn strangers into friends.

According to the anonymous author of Hebrews, this is not a cute idea, it’s a commandment. God expects you to show hospitality in all circumstances. The life of a pastor can become a life of pressure. It’s easy to look at a passage like this and think, “here we go! Another thing for me to do or another meeting to add to my calendar.” However, in reality, this passage should provide a Divine recalibration for all of us. You don’t have to be the most impressive speaker, put on the most amazing services, or have the world’s best children’s programming. Just be welcoming and inviting with Christ-like love. Everything else will work itself out. Quite frankly, it opens the door for supernatural moments.

Hospitality opens doors to unexpected ministry.

A pastor with open arms and an open heart has a much higher capacity for impact. We can often assume that ministry moments will come to us. We assume that people will knock on our doors with their problems, call us with their worries, and come up and speak to us when they need us. While that certainly happens, hospitality opens the doors to ministry moments that may never take place within the walls of your sanctuary.

The author of Hebrews introduces a thought-provoking line in verse two, pointing out that those who show hospitality to strangers might have “entertained angels” without even realizing it. This is likely a reference to the incident in Genesis 18 when Abraham welcomes divine visitors. Let’s seriously consider this. The Bible suggests that hospitality opens us to a supernatural reality. By engaging in Christ-like kindness, we act as extensions of Christ’s ministry on this planet we call home. It’s important not to misinterpret this text and start searching for hidden angels everywhere. Instead, let this statement illuminate the profound importance of practicing hospitality.

  • When you take out time to share a meal with a family, you might discover some challenges they’ve faced that they might not otherwise have disclosed. The dining table can be surprisingly disarming.
  • When you spend time in the hospital with someone, you might help them find peace amidst challenging circumstances. Hospitality has a healing power.
  • When you randomly strike up a conversation with someone on public transit or in a park, you give them the opportunity to realize that their story is valuable. Hospitality lets people know they matter to God.
  • When you step out of the office to help someone navigate a family conflict, you demonstrate to them that they are more important than your workload. Hospitality helps people experience God’s love through the actions of His followers.

According to the anonymous author of Hebrews, hospitality should form a significant part of your identity. When you serve people, you are serving Jesus. His love for them means that when you display love, you are fulfilling His will. He values them, and when you show them their worth, you reflect His nature. Hospitality was at the heart of Christ’s ministry, and so it should be at the heart of yours as well.

Watch the full message here:


The pastors on our team would love to learn more about you and your ministry to help you apply these leadership lessons in your church. Send us an email at or click the button below to schedule a call with a pastor. We hope to hear from you soon!


We recently asked ourselves, “how can we serve pastors more personally?” The Pastor Circle is the answer.

It’s a virtual small group community of pastors who understand what you’re going through and want to offer you godly support and guidance. We meet on Zoom once a month to listen to a short devotional and topic introduction, followed by a small group discussion. We hope to see you there next month! Click here to learn more.