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A Beginner’s Guide to Biblical Hospitality

on May 4, 2012 by Jami Balmet 29 comments

I love hospitality. If we don’t have people over for a week or two I start to get antsy. I start trying to figure out who we can have over. I happily prepare dinner, pick up the house, light the candles, get the kid’s toys out, and turn the music on. It has started to become second nature to me.

But this was not always the case. At one point, having even friends over was a big ordeal. I had to spend a couple days cleaning and preparing just for friends to come over.

Thankfully, the Lord has grown me over the course of our marriage and we find ourselves inviting people we barely know into our home 2-4 times a month!

This did not happen over night. We started out slow. We slowly invited others into our home to get to know them and share a meal, and they started inviting us over.

Slowly we learned the tips and tricks to making hospitality run smoothly and be enjoyable for both us and our guests.

A Beginner’s Guide to Hospitality

Start Slow

Don’t jump into this thinking you have to invite your entire church over next week. If you are not comfortable or used to having people over that you don’t know very well, start out with a simple goal.

When we began doing hospitality we had decided that once a month was a good pace. Quickly we fell in love with hospitality and upped that commitment to twice a month.

Most months we were inviting others into our home weekly but our minimum always stayed at twice a month so that we didn’t feel like a failure if one month turned out busier than usual.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot!

Practicing hospitality doesn’t have to cost a lot of money! Many people feel that they don’t have room in their budget to have families over.

But don’t stretch yourself. Start with a commitment of having a family over once a month and serve pizza! Everyone loves pizza, your meal doesn’t have to be complex or fancy.

Many families will over to bring something to dinner. LET THEM! If they ask, let them bring a dessert or side dish.

Try out freezer cooking and make all your meals ahead, it can save a lot of money!

Be understanding

When first starting out practicing hospitality, it can quickly become overwhelming and sometimes emotions can run high. But try to be understanding when practicing hospitality.

Do you keep inviting a family over and they ALWAYS seem busy? Don’t take it personally or get offended. Families get busy, don’t take it personally; sometimes schedules just don’t match up. And many do not make hospitality a priority or even know that they should so be patient and understanding.

Do you live in an apartment? Don’t take offense if you invite a family over to your apartment only for them to offer it at their house. Here are 7 practical tips on practicing hospitality in an apartment.

Learn from Others

As you start extending hospitality, just wait and you will get invited over to other’s houses as well. Learn from what they do. When you get invited to other’s houses, make a mental note of what they do from the moment you walk in the house.

Do they have music playing? What kinds of questions did they ask? Did they get a card game out or offer coffee after dinner?

This is the best way to learn new tips and tricks. Offering coffee at the end of a meal is a great comfort to offer, but if you never drink coffee past 10am then you might not think about it. Glean from other’s experiences and wisdom.

Simple touches can make a big difference

Hospitality doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, like I said before. So even simple touches can make a huge difference on your house and hospitality.

Buy a couple candles and have them lit around the dining room. Can’t afford Yankee candles? Head to the dollar store and see what you can find. It’s all about the ambiance!

Have soft music playing low in the background during the meal. Decorate your home in a way that welcomes in new guests and find ways to fix up things for less, like recovering old dining room chairs.

Pull out some toys from the closet to let kids play with or head to your local thrift store to pick some up for cheap.


When practicing hospitality, ask, ask, ask. Many people that we have invited over to our house, we felt nervous about asking…will they want to come over? We barely know them…do they even know who we are? But everyone loves to be invited over. So just ask!

Ask about food allergies or preferences. You don’t want to make a big meaty lasagna only to find out that one kid is allergic to tomatoes and Mom is a vegetarian!

Ask other women for their hospitality tips. Many women like to share what they do to make their home welcoming, so ask those around you how they do it!

Practice and Readily Learn

Unfortunately, there is not a ton written about hospitality in the Christian world. But what is out there, is excellent!

I highly recommend Hospitality Commands by Alexander Strauch.

I HIGHLY recommend Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others by Ennis and Tatlock

I also put together a list of my top 7 hospitality resources.

Remember, it’s not about your home, it’s about your heart.

At the end of the day your candles don’t matter. Your cooking skills are not what is on display. The dessert and music in the background will quickly be forgotten.

What will not be forgotten is your heart. What really matters is your heart for serving the Lord and opening up your home! Remember that and don’t sweat the details. 

Do you want to learn more about hospitality?

You can sign up for my FREE 3-part video series on hospitality. We begin by first starting where any Gospel-Centered discussion should start: with the Bible! We then take that Biblical definition of hospitality and practically apply it with a beginner’s guide to hospitality – everything you need to know to have the confidence to start extending hospitality – today! Sign up HERE for free!

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Get instant free access to my Finding Joy in Your Home video course.

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  • Join my free course and learn the essential habits for Christian homemakers

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  1. I used to do this regularly, but got overwhelmed by children and the general busy-ness of life. Plus the fact that my children have decimated the dining room carpet to the point where it is rather embarrassing, lol! But I do want to get back into the habit of having people over. One thing I like to do sometimes in good weather is to invite people to join us at a nearby park (with a huge playground – it’s great for families with kids) for a picnic lunch.

    • Yeah Anne, I imagine we will be doing this a LOT less once we have little kids. That’s why we are trying to do it as often as possible now, while we have the time!The playground sounds like a great idea! And no having to clean up your house! 😀

  2. Thanks Jami! My husband and I are in the beginning stages of planting a new church and the opening up of my home has once again become a regular thing after a few years of silence 🙂 I’m ready for it though, and your post made me excited to get started again with the extra touches that I have always enjoyed. Blessings!

    • How exciting Angie (and a ton of work)!! I’m sure having people in your home will be an almost nightly occurrence now! You should share what you learn through showing hospitality…I know I’m ALWAYS still learning! 😉

  3. Great post! Hospitality is exponential. You have someone over, and then they ask you in return, or they’re encouraged to reach out to others. Hospitality is such a beautiful way to invest in and learn from others.

    • Thanks Elsie! Yes it is! And going to a new church or new neighborhood can be hard to connect to people. Hospitality is a great way to serve those in your community AND to get to know new friends 🙂

  4. A woman after my own heart. This is a great post, Jami! We are so similar to you guys!

    By the way, it won’t stop with children if this is your heart. We have people over just as much, it just looks different. No more late nights of games and fun with friends. More Saturday brunches, early dinners, and even earlier bedtimes. 🙂

    This past weekend, I cleaned the house up only to have my toddler dump 3 decks of cards in the living room floor, spill milk all over the place, and several other things that I don’t remember about 5 minutes before our guests arrived. It happens. You just learn to smile, even laugh, and just enjoy the mess. If anything, people feel much more at home.

    When we first got married, my husband would say, “Don’t mind the mess.” It would make me soooooo mad. I finally said, “Honey, this is our life. This is what it looks like. Sometimes, you just have to smile about it. If you make excuses for it, you’re only telling people to look at the imperfections that only you notice.” It’s what he thought he was “supposed” to say. Since then, we’ve both loosened up a lot. We want our home comfortable, inviting, and sometimes that means milk puddling in the entry way…

    • Thanks Leigh Ann for the encouragement!!! I really don’t plan to let children stop us from practicing hospitality! We have one friend who is pregnant with their sixth child and all are under the age of 8!!! CRAZY! And they practice hospitality weekly. I just didn’t want those with young children to feel overwhelmed by not being able to practice hospitality as often as they would like. My goal is to still maintain a pretty consistent flow of hospitality even when we have a few kids…but I guess I won’t know until we get to that stage 😉

      And I’m SURE that being relaxed about your house will help when trying to practice hospitality with kids! It gets more comfortable as you get invited to more houses and realize no one is perfect and no ones house is flawless all the time! We gotta let go of that pride!! lol Thanks Leigh Ann!!!

  5. Jami these are some great points and tips- I’ve starred this post to refer back to later, as this is something I want to improve on. My husband and I just moved into our new home in March. We have a housewarming party with many, many people coming on the 19th which makes me nervous! It’s going to be a come and go event. Then I would love to start having more people over for dinner on a semi-regular basis. Open up our home to bless others. Thank you again, I always find your posts so helpful!


    • Hi Nicole!

      Thank you!! Oh how much fun! A housewarming party will be so much fun 🙂 We are moving to a new area next month and are going to have to start over from scratch of inviting people over!!

      It will be fun…but challenging! So glad you stopped by Nicole 🙂

  6. I love your hints and tips, but even more I love your underlying message about it is the heart that really counts. We too live in an apartment – thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Bugs! It Is the heart that really counts!! So often we (and I mean I) can get so wrapped up in the practical physical part of hospitality and need to remember that the heart is the only thing that matters!

  7. […] have a passion for practicing Biblical hospitality, but often excuses of time and money get in the way of reaching out and extending […]

  8. I really enjoyed reading this. It’s been awhile since my husband and I have had another couple/family over for dinner. Life gets busy, but I’m inspired to start small like you’ve advised. One family per month sounds like a good way to start to me. Thanks for the encouragement!

    • We started out slow as well! We knew couples who had people over weekly and that seemed SO hard to commit too. So we started with once a month and quickly fell in love with it. Then we were one of those couples having people over weekly 🙂 But it all depends on your family and your stage of life. Now that we are about to have two newborns, we won’t have nearly as much time in this stage of life. My advice…just get the dinner on the schedule or it will never happen 😉

      • Thanks for the tip!

        Yeah, I bet! That’s wonderful that you and your husband are expecting two little precious ones, but yes, life will certainly become MUCH busier, hey?! Enjoy motherhood! 😀

  9. Hi Jami,
    Thank you so much for sharing with all of us. I also value hospitality and practice it often (bi-weekly) by inviting friends and family over for simple things like cards and cookies, or an easy meal. It provides many memories and laughs, as there is always something funny that arises when people feel welcome and comfortable! I have had wonderful role models in the women in my life (mother and grandmothers). All such beautiful and inspiring christian women, as, I hope you don’t mind me saying, so are you! 🙂 I really appreciate your website, thank you so much for sharing!

  10. This is a great post! Hospitality is my heart but I’m not sure how to “do it”. We know a lot of families with 5+children, most of which are in elementary school or preschoolers. Our two children are getting ready to graduate high school so we don’t really have a lot of things for kids that age to do at our home. Any ideas? As a side note, I’m an introvert so even coming up with talking points is a challenge.

  11. These are all really good tips. As someone with celiac disease, when someone asks about my dietary needs and preferences, it really makes me feel more comfortable and loved.