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Practicing Hospitality:The Joy of Serving Others ~Book Review

on February 27, 2012 by Jami Balmet 16 comments

Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others by Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock  has been one of the most influencial books that I have ever read.

Practicing Hospitality Book Review
In the days of the New Testament, churches were started and functioned out of the home. The home was the central hub of the New Testament church. It was the tool of evangelism, the facliator of fellowship within the body, and the central place for believers to gather on Sunday and throughout the week.

There are countless stories in both the Old and New Testament on the importance of hospitality (but that is a post for a different day). And yet in our individualistic fast paced American society we have all but lost the beautiful practice of hospitality.

Ennis and Tatlock paint a beatuiful picture of what it means to practice hospitality. They show that you don’t have to have a big house or vast resources to open up your home to those within and outside the church.

Hospitality is about a heart for service, the creativity to stretch whatever we do have available, and the energy to give the time necessary to add a flourish to ordinary events of life. Pg 15

Living in an apartment and trying to save every penny that we have, I never thought about my responsibility in extending hospitality. It seemed like something we would do one day when we had a big house and plenty of money to spend on entertaining.

But Practicing Hospitality showed me that hospitality is so much more than entertaining. It’s an attitude of love that we extend to those we invite into our home.It’s a warm place to invite a new couple from church or get to know a family with little kids when you are looking to  have children yourself.

With dozens of recipes and great tips throughout the book, Practicing Hospitality is really a workbook and a guide on how to really practice hospitality. It’s written in such a way that you can connect with the women’s stories that are strewn throughout the chapters.

They have great, practical advice in every chapter such as a section on preparing “portable” meals that you can deliver full of recipes and delivery ideas. Another idea they share is when teaching your family about hospitality to have a Bible lesson from the  early church and then to have a meal similar to what they would have eaten during the Bible times. This section is complete with an entire meal plan of recipes and dinner talking points!

I recommend this in my top five books to read in your lifetime! It’s really that good and helpful. Do you feel lost and don’t know where to start with hospitality? Maybe you have never invited anyone outside your family over, let alone almost complete strangers, and the idea terrifies you. Read their book and pray that the Lord gives you courage in this area.

It can be a hard thing to meet someone and invite them over after chuch for lunch. But it is such a vital thing that the church should practice today, and so many are not. Maybe you will start a movement in your church by inviting people over and encouraging them to do the same.

{Contains affiliate links, but I 100% completely endorse this book. I would not have posted this glowing review otherwise. Everything I said above is 100% true, I love this book!}

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.

  • Do you want to discover more joy, peace, & tranquility within your home?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed and like your house is out of control?
  • Join my free course and learn the essential habits for Christian homemakers
  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book! It’s one of many on my list of books I want to read. Question- do you ever find it difficult for others (who are not in the same situation of apt living or not your age) to accept your invite? Sadly, I feel like invitations to join in dinner at an apt is countered with a request to meet in the invitee’s house instead or just wait until we’re “settled” (ie in a house). I whole-heartedly believe that we can (and should!) come together in hospitality regardless of the meeting place. Yet, that doesn’t appear to be universal. I’ve considered that perhaps we need to just focus on our age or also apt. living, but then this feel contrary to the concept of open hospitality. Do you have any tips or tricks for opening your apt. home in hospitality and those invitations be accepted? Thanks!

    • Hi Whitney! Thanks for stopping by! Short answer: YES! We have experienced this same thing. This actually just happened to us 2 weeks ago. It can be discouraging but also can be an opportunity to grow and at least you are extending the offer. I am reaching out to a couple of women to ask their advice on this subject! I’m putting together a post for next week to talk about this further. Thanks for asking!!

  2. My mother doesn’t do this, but I sure do want to. I offer to help with whatever at home, but she still gets stressed out and is always tired. 🙁 I want to remember the importance for when I have my own home. 🙂

    • I totally understand that Belinda! Practicing Hospitality can be very hard to first start. It can be overwhelming and feel like it takes SO much work. But the more you practice it the easier it becomes. We started with the goal of having someone over twice a month and thought that was SO MUCH at first. But now we tend to have people over every week sometimes twice a week! The Lord also helps us with timing and resources to be able to do this. I know some girls who have a heart for hospitality and whose mother’s seem to busy will offer to help out with hospitality. Such as offering to go grocery shopping and do the cooking to help lighten their mother’s load so that it’s easier for the entire family.

  3. This DEFINITELY is a book I will read!!

    My mom is a great example to me of what good hospitality is. She has several women over every week for a moms’ Bible study, and our dinner table was always open to my and my siblings’ friends. She has a knack of creating a warm, gracious, comfortable and relaxed place where people like to be, and she’s an amazing cook besides.

    As a result of this example and influence, I and my husband often have friends to our home. I don’t have as clean or orderly of a house as I’d like, but it’s always open. We have people over for meals pretty regularly. Our closest friends at the moment share a meal with us about once a week.

    Right now I feel like I don’t have a ton of opportunities for ministry, but having people to our home is one way I can “be Jesus” to those around me. It doesn’t take a big, fancy, or even very nice house. We live in such a tiny apartment that my husband has to move the table into the living room if there’s more than three for a meal. I have a little bitty kitchen and we can barely squeeze more than five or six people in the house comfortably. But that doesn’t keep us from showing hospitality!

    • How wonderful that you have such a great example!!! I hands down think that that can be the BEST way to learn how to extend hospitality. I often think about this when I am trying to develop my skills. Lord willing I hope to have some girls and will try and be very conscious that I am passing down these skills to my girls (and boys to some degree!!).

      I agree! We are in an apartment and ours too is not always as clean as I would like it! We have been in the habit lately of meeting new families in our church and inviting them to dinner to get to know them better. And then of course having our friends over is always fun!!

  4. Hi!
    Thanks so much for this book review! I love finding out about new books. I recently joined the blogging world and created a blog specifically for book reviews for Christian women, wives and mothers. Love your blog! Can’t wait to read more.

  5. […] Practicing hospitality doesn’t have to be overwhelming. At times, it can feel like we have to have a perfect house and be a gourmet chef in order to have people over. We can be paralyzed by the fear of hospitality, but hospitality doesn’t have to be intimidating. Whether you live in a big house with lots of room or a small apartment, hospitality is doable and vital to the health of the church. […]