What is Christian Hospitality?

“If there is any concept worth restoring to its original and evocative potential, it is the concept of hospitality.” Henri Nouwen

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For the New Testament church, hospitality was a CENTRAL PART of following Jesus.

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25:40

Deeply shaped by scripture like Matthew 25, early disciples lived with a responsibility toward the STRANGER or outsider that played a transformative role in their personal discipleship, community life, and society.

Early church members regularly hosted agape (love) meals out of their households. These meals provided a communal setting  that met the needs of the poor and strangers. In sharp contrast to elaborate Roman banquets that reinforced social boundaries, agape feasts were intended to break down human distinctions and reflect the new social reality of living in God’s household, brothers and sisters in the faith.

The Church’s responsibility towards the vulnerable was lived out more formally in the fourth and fifth centuries. Christian hospitality was provided through institutions such as hostels for poor, hospitals for the sick and monasteries for pilgrims.

Over the course of centuries, the meaning of hospitality has slowly drifted from its original concern for the vulnerable. These days, most of us think that hospitality means entertaining a trusted circle of family and friends or sharing coffee and cookies after a worship service. 

If caring for ‘the least of these’ is central to following Jesus, What does Christian hospitality look like today? And what does it look like for church congregations to live out welcoming the ‘other’ or the vulnerable one in their community? 

I started this website to tell the story of ordinary churches that were reaching out to the strangers and those who were “other” in their neighborhood. This website tells the story of five ordinary and inspiring congregations that were quietly practicing radical hospitality each week, welcoming the stranger in the form of the poor, prisoners, disabled persons, and orphans.