Two weeks ago we explored a used book store and I was intrigued by a book entitled "Creative Hospitality." My preconceived idea on the theme of this book was quickly tossed out the window when I pulled the book off the shelf. I had imagined something along the lines of creative tips on entertaining. This book had no slick pictures on floral arrangements or how-to tips on making a guest room inviting or about creating a comfortable home for entertaining.
Coming from a mother's point of view its as if my son came to me with a deep gash, filled with gravel and dirt, to have me to make it better. If I kiss his cheek and place a bandage over the wound it will make him feel better in the short-term. But what my son really needs is for me to clean out the wound and take him to the doctor perhaps for stitches and then kiss him. Which hurts more? From my son's point of view the second scenario does, but if allowed to have his way it will lead to more pain.
A book about entertaining I would be interested in, but not a seeker sensitive book. But upon opening this book I found that this book was neither kind. I used my usually practice of opening a book in the middle and start reading. I have found that I can determine if the writer is interesting and if the material is something that will hold my attention. In this case I opened to a chapter called "Biblical Hospitality" and another called "Models of Hospitality." I checked the front of the book and found the full title was "Creative Hospitality: As a Means of Evangelism." After each chapter there are even questions for review or discussion. I had found my book!
As I have begun to read I found that the subject is even more relevant now then it was in 1981 when Bruce Rowlinson wrote it. The book involves hospitality not only in our homes, but also in the church building. It is about real hospitality, not the manufactured kind that many churches put into place.
We saw this at one church we visited. It was a large church that had a "hospitality committee." It was very easy to see what was required of them. The first two weeks we were welcomed by many couples with name tags on. The couples explained that to become involved in the church it would be wise to join one of the small groups the church organized. The third week no one spoke to us, waved or even smiled. They had done their "job." None of the couples encouraged us to become friends with them personally, just others in the church. We didn't stay long. Yes, it is also our responsibility as guests to try to be friendly. But we were never able to become close to any of the people at the church. I am glad to say that at the church we attend now, we found just the opposite. We were at a personal low when we first visited and they opened their hearts and arms to us. They are also very open and understanding to our son's issues.
As I read this book I think of a wonderful Christian who put hospitality into practice, Joanie Barb. Joanie was a wonderful role model for this wife as I began married life almost 22 years ago. I will be sharing this book as I read it.