The Heart of Hospitality: A Call to Follow Christ’s Example in Welcoming Others

You’re having lunch with your family after a Sunday worship service when you hear the woman sitting behind you mention she had visited a church in the area. “It was my first time there,” she says. “But I don’t think I’m going back.” You pry the bread basket out of your toddler’s hands and lean back against the booth, trying to hear the woman’s answer as her friend asks her what happened. 

“The people just weren’t friendly,” the woman says. “I tried one of their Bible study classes, but no one said anything to me or even seemed to realize that I was there.” She stops talking, and you think she’s about to change the subject when you hear her quietly add, “It’s embarrassing. When I got in my car I just started crying. Honestly, I think I felt more lonely when I left than when I walked in.” 

You feel a pit in your stomach even before she stands up to leave—before you see her face and realize she had been visiting your Bible study that morning. 

A Christ-Centered Approach to Hospitality 


Aren’t those the words you want people to use after they’ve spent time in your church or ministry? You want them to feel seen and loved—the last thing you want is for a woman to leave feeling alone or rejected. You want her to walk away saying, “This is a church that feels like home.” 

Why? Because an unfriendly church is antithetical to the heart of the gospel. As followers of Christ, we are the Church. We are the family of God, called to reflect God’s character to a watching world. When we fail to welcome others as Christ has welcomed us, we miss the opportunity to show those around us who He is. As you reflect on your own approach to hospitality as a ministry leader, look to Jesus as the standard and allow the way He interacted with others to shift the way you love the women in front of you. 

1. Jesus pursued those in need. 

True hospitality seeks to meet the needs of others as a way to put the love of God on display. While it’s fine to open your home to a group of friends you love spending time with, biblical hospitality goes beyond that by actively pursuing those in need and welcoming them in. 

Who are “the least of these” in your church or ministry? (See Matt. 25:40.) It could be:

  • A single mom who is new to the area.
  • The family with so many dietary restrictions they rarely get invited to dinner.
  • Your pastor’s wife who feels lonely in her role. 

The least of these could also be your husband who you’re struggling to connect with, your moody teenager who seems to be annoyed by everything you cook, or your toddler who refuses to sit through a meal without flinging mashed potatoes across the room. 

The moments we are hardest to love may be the moments we need love most. Jesus didn’t insist we act loveable before He would love us. While we were busy running from Him in rebellion, He put love into action (Rom. 5:8). He doesn’t call us to love the least of these to earn His affections but as a means to show others how His love has transformed us. 

2. Jesus reached toward those who rejected Him.

Biblical hospitality is not just for those who think like you. It’s not just for those who will eagerly accept your invitation and shower you with gratitude after you’ve welcomed them into your home. Hospitality seeks to meet the needs of those who have rejected you because that’s what Jesus did.

When you think about the women you serve, there may be one who you can’t think about without remembering the cutting, critical words she’s said about you. When you think about serving her, resistance wells up in your heart. “She rejected me. She rejected my child. She rejected my husband. How could I ever welcome her into my home?”

Jesus knows what it’s like to experience that kind of hurt. Aren’t you glad He still reached toward you and meets your needs? You can follow His example by showing hospitality to those who have hurt you. (See Rom. 12:20–21.) When you do, you are demonstrating Christlike love.

3. Jesus intentionally welcomed people into His heavenly home.

If you’ve spent time in the Gospels, John 14:1–3 is likely a familiar passage. As you read these words now, examine them through the lens of hospitality:

"Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also."

Jesus doesn’t need 2,000+ years to prepare a place for His people, but one of the themes He was emphasizing was His intentionality. He knew He was going to the cross. He stayed focused on His mission, knowing that someday all who surrendered their lives to Him would share His heavenly home permanently.

The God of the universe is eager to welcome you into the home He has prepared. You are His invited guest. Now that’s hospitality! 

Today, Jesus is busy preparing a place for you. Once the table has been set with a feast and the house is ready for arrival, He will come for you and welcome you into heaven, His home. Will you allow this radiant hope to impact how you welcome others and serve them in Jesus’ name?

The Transformative Power of Christlike Hospitality 

Picture a woman walking into your church or ministry for the first time. She is desperate for community and doesn’t even know how deeply she needs the hope of Christ. Consider what it would mean for this woman to be welcomed in with genuine love and pursued with such gracious hospitality that she cannot shake the feeling that she’s finally found a place that feels like home. 

As a leader, you can’t afford not to welcome others with the heart of Jesus. When you lead with a hospitable approach to ministry, it makes the gospel real to those around you. By welcoming women the way Christ has welcomed you, you put His character on display. Welcome them with genuine love, and may the Lord use the hospitality He pours out through you to be a window into the heavenly home that awaits you. 

This article was adapted from You’re Welcome Here, a six-week Bible study based on the teachings of Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.