Walk Out Your Welcome

Think back to the last time you entered a room full of strangers. Maybe you were at a conference, a networking event, or visiting a new church. You walked up to the welcome table and didn't recognize any of the faces sitting on the other side, but they smiled at you, greeting you warmly as you leaned over to fill out a name tag. Friendly. Gracious. The kind of women who make it easier to enter a place brand new. 

As you left the table, they turned back to each other and continued the conversation they’d been having before you arrived, but they’d done their job. They checked all of the boxes of how a volunteer team should act as they signed you in and sent you on your way. 

But what if, instead of returning to her conversation, one of the women behind the table left her seat and came to where you were standing? What if she walked alongside you to the main event, sat in the chair next to you during the sessions, and got to know you better during the breaks in between? What if she asked you to join with the rest of her group for lunch, made introductions and exchanged phone numbers, and invited you to be part of the next event? 

By the time you parted ways, the woman wouldn’t have just known your name, she’d know parts of your story. You wouldn’t have just been greeted, you would have been welcomed in a way that made you want to stay and invite others to come as well. 

There’s a difference between being friendly and being a true friend. You know it’s not the same action to offer someone a warm “hello” as to genuinely extend hospitality to her. As a follower of Christ, you’re called to far more when it comes to serving the women who come into your local church and into your life. Your mission goes beyond greeting others and treating them politely. Will you give up your time and attention to welcome them into deeper community the way that Christ did? 

Practicing Practical Presence

A few months ago, my Sunday morning Bible study finally made it to the last chapter of Matthew. As we read the verses surrounding the Great Commission, our teacher had us define the concepts of evangelism and discipleship, topics that tend to overlap with biblical hospitality.

As people shared their answers, I reread the familiar words of Matthew 28:18–20: 

Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Something different stood out to me that morning: “I am with you always,” Jesus said. I’ve often thought about what that precious promise meant for Jesus’ disciples—and what it means for us today. But I’d never thought about how Jesus had modeled the commands of the Great Commission as He was with His disciples on earth. He had welcomed them into His life and literally walked alongside them, teaching and modeling all that He expected them to follow. He shared meals with them, traveled with them, and knelt next to them in prayer. He talked to them day in and day out, helping them deal with all of the issues of their normal lives—from family dynamics to financial worries to knowing what to eat for dinner. As He sent them out to make disciples, they were to do the same. 

By welcoming them into His everyday routine and discipling them along the way, Jesus was modeling what it truly means to be hospitable.In a recent episode of Grounded, Dannah Gresh defined hospitality as “the act of encountering the presence of God in, with, and through others.” It’s wrapped up in the Great Commission—and it may be simpler than you think to begin living it out practically.

Walk This Way

The book of Luke doesn’t end with the same Great Commission passage that Matthew includes. Its last chapter, Luke 24, begins with Resurrection morning and the women arriving at the tomb, where they discovered that the stone had been rolled away and Jesus’ body was gone. Two men in dazzling clothes suddenly appeared and asked them, “Why are you looking for the living among the dead? He is not here, but he has risen!” (vv. 5–6).

Then the story fast-forwards to the moment the disciples heard the news. At this point in Luke’s retelling of the day, he has not mentioned any direct encounters with Jesus . . . until verse 13, when the story pivots to what happened to two disciples: 

Now that same day two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. Together they were discussing everything that had taken place. And while they were discussing and arguing, Jesus himself came near and began to walk along with them. (Luke 24:13–15)

It’s one of my favorite scenes in Scripture for so many reasons, especially when you consider the humor it contains. But note that on the most dramatic day in all of history—the day of Jesus’ resurrection—He engaged in a most ordinary action. He began to walk along the road with two people who desperately needed real hope and perspective.

As the men argued, Jesus asked them about their dispute, “And they stopped walking and looked discouraged” (v. 17). As Jesus listened and corrected what they didn’t understand, He began with Moses and all the Prophets and “interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures” (v. 27). As He shared, they kept on walking together. 

It seems like such a simple action following the drama of the Resurrection, but Jesus chose that setting to help them understand the sovereign plans of God and His role in them. When they got to their destination, the men extended hospitality to Jesus, urging Him: 

“Stay with us, because it’s almost evening, and now the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. 

It was as he reclined at the table with them that he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. (Luke 24:29–30)

Here Jesus was revealing to His disciples that He had truly been resurrected: He ate real food with them, showing He wasn’t a ghost. Through ordinary moments—as He demonstrated and received hospitality—Jesus was proving to His disciples that He really was alive.

As you walk alongside others, extending and receiving hospitality, you get to communicate to them the life-changing truth that Christ is alive. You can live out the Great Commission and invite other women to apply the reality of Jesus’ resurrection in the context of your everyday life.

Hospitality—encountering the presence of Jesus with others—doesn’t need to happen in big moments:

  • Instead of texting a friend and saying that you’ll pray for the issues causing her anxiety, what if you asked her to meet you at the park so you could walk and pray together? 
  • Instead of simply inviting a new friend to show up at your church’s Bible study, what if you told her that you would meet her in the parking lot and walk with her inside?
  • Instead of only sending a friend a link to a favorite Christian podcast, what if you asked her to join you as you ran errands this week so you could talk through the main points while you got your shopping done? 

Walk Out Your Welcome

After the two men who walked with Jesus realized who He was, they got back on the road and gathered the disciples together. When they found the Eleven, “They began to describe what happened on the road and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:35). How many times would they end up repeating what Jesus had shared with them along the road? I picture them spending the rest of their lives inviting others to walk with them or to come sit across the table from them so they could share all that Christ had revealed about Himself. 

Will you do the same? When you welcome other people to walk alongside you, you have the opportunity to reveal the presence of Christ to them, to help them observe all that He has commanded, and to live in light of His promise: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Today is the day! The first episode in our new series of hospitality videos, designed to complement our newest study, You’re Welcome Here, drops today! Watch now and then check back each Tuesday for the next six weeks for a new episode. 

About the Author

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep was working as a hospital teacher when God called her to join Revive Our Hearts as a staff writer. She serves remotely from Houston, Texas, where God sustains her through saltwater beaches, Scripture, and her local church. Katie's … read more …

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