This resource is part of a series of interactive, intergenerational ideas for engaging people in faith practices through worship and/or midweek gatherings, brought to you by Worship Ministries and Faith Formation Ministries as part of the Faith Practices Project.
Hospitality is the act of making space for guests, visitors, or strangers, and extending to them the privileges of family. In these resources we’ll explore biblical hospitality and focus on how we can share food, shelter, and protection.
Below you’ll find a variety of intergenerational ideas on this faith practice. Choose from and then use the ideas to shape a summer series, plan a midweek gathering, weave into an all-ages small group study or house church gathering, and more.
There are so many ideas here that you probably won’t need them all. To help make choosing easier, we’ve organized them into three categories:
- Gather activities provide an introduction to the practice through reflection and connection.
- Grow experiences offer an opportunity to explore the practice in community in a way that can be repeated at home.
- Go resources encourage and equip participants to live out the practice.
For a list of other Scripture passages and songs you might also include during your gathering, see the Build-Your-Own Worship Service (or Series) on Hospitality.
Watch #EatTogether. Remember a time when someone welcomed you with all of their heart or made space for you in a way that said “You belong.” How were you welcomed? How did that feel?
Pair a Bible passage with a picture book. We love these books (recommended on the wonderful Picture Book Theology site):
- Mark 12:30-31 with Xander’s Panda Party by Linda Sue Park
- Hebrews 13:1-2 with Everybody’s Welcome by Patricia Hegarty
- Romans 15:7 with The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates
I wonder if you’ve ever felt welcome and included like family? What was that like? Have you ever felt or experienced the opposite of welcome? What was that like? I wonder what you learned about hospitality from the passage/story? What does hospitality have to do with seeing God’s image in everyone?
Take ten. During his acceptance speech at the 1997 Emmy Awards, Fred Rogers (of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) invited everyone to “take . . . ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are, those who cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life.” Set a timer and invite everyone to take ten seconds (or longer!) to think of a time they felt welcomed, included, and cared for by someone they didn’t know. What was done to make you feel that way? Share those stories with each other.
Make a plan. You’ve remembered and shared the ways in which you have experienced hospitality; now it’s time to get intentional about practicing it as you consider everyday ways to welcome, include, and care for others in ways like these:
- as a church
- at home
- at school or work
- in your neighborhood or city
- as a country
Label pieces of chart paper with each of the above contexts (one per page) and place them throughout your gathering space. During timed intervals, small groups will travel around the room, using markers to add their ideas for specific ways in which they could practice hospitality within each context. Alternatively, small groups could remain seated and brainstorm ideas for all of the contexts together. Take time for all the groups to hear each other’s ideas.
You might end this activity by inviting each person to star or place a sticker on the thing they commit to doing this week.
Offer H-O-S-P-I-T-A-L-I-T-Y. Print the letters H-O-S-P-I-T-A-L-I-T-Y down the length of a sheet of chart paper, or provide each person with their own sheet of paper and have them write the letters down. Working either in small groups or as individuals (with adults helping children), list one way (or several ways!) to practice hospitality for each of the 11 letters in this word. The result might look something like this:
sHare my lunch at school
Offer a helping hand
Smile at someone I don’t know
Invite People to my home for a visit
Be kInd on social media, even when I disagree
Treat everyone like family
Welcome A newcomer
Listen to learn from those who are different from me
ProvIde access for all
Build Trust by respecting all
Depending on the time available, you might encourage the table groups to create a different H-O-S-P-I-T-A-L-I-T-Y list for each of the five contexts listed in the “Make a plan” activity above.
Get ready. Encourage and equip households to be welcoming places for people by preparing some simple food items together. Some ideas: bake bread together, and make enough for each household to take home one loaf to share with others; make a simple dinner and/or dessert to eat together, and send each household home with the recipe; pack reusable grocery bags with the ingredients for a simple supper that people can take home and make for future guests.
Note: The Reformed Church in America has developed a wonderful resource on hospitality. If you’d like to focus your attention specifically on how you might practice hospitality as a church, be sure to check out their post Low-Cost and No-Cost Ways to Show Hospitality in the Church.
End your time together with a reading of And the Table Will Be Wide, a poem by Jan Richardson.
Send people home with faith practice resources they can use to continue the practices they’ve experienced during your time together. Some ideas:
- 5 Ways to Practice Hospitality with Your Family—a free, printable resource for households with children
- Faith Practices: Holy Habits That Help Us Love God and Our Neighbor, Listen to the Spirit, and Become More Like Jesus—one booklet per person or household