Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Practicing Hospitality: Chapter 6

by Carrie
If you are just checking in with us here, I'm going through the book Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others chapter by chapter and sharing what I'm learning as I go along.

Click here to read my thoughts on Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. We're over halfway done with this book, folks!

Chapter Six is entitled, "Hospitality and Others" and this chapter has me hoppin' with excitement! I thought this chapter ROCKED and I so wish you'd grab a copy of this book if only to read this one chapter!

For starters, they opened with the following scripture verse:
"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?" James 2:14-16
The rest of the chapter dealt with offering hospitality to particular groups of people who have need of fellowship, and offered specific suggestions as to how you can include these groups into your service of others.

The group I'm going to lecture speak on behalf of are the singles. We haven't talked about singles much around here, everyone just kind of assuming that if you read this blog you have to at least be married and you probably have a family. But that's not the case and I'm hoping to have a few single gals (and guys?) share their thoughts on what hospitality means to them as time goes on.

The reason I want to hone in on the singles here is because I think they are a sadly neglected lot by those who are married and who have families. This is a big problem. When I moved away from home, I moved halfway across the country. I joined a new church and not one family invited me into their homes. (It wasn't because I refused to bathe either. I wasn't altogether odious.) They just...didn't think of it! But I was alone, lonely, next-to-friendless and definitely lacked family in the area. I would have said yes to anyone who asked me over for a meal but, in fact, no one did.

Part of this, I realize, is a West Coast thing. I moved from the South to the West Coast and there is a dramatically huge difference in the extent to which people offer hospitality to others. It's a lost art on the West Coast! However, let me drive this point home:

No matter where a single person lives, they crave fellowship, community and a sense of belonging.

A smile will take them a long way. Communication can move mountains. Inviting them to be a part of your family life and home is a blessing beyond description. So DO IT! Speaking from the perspective of a former single and very lonely new-person-on-the-block, make an effort to offer them hospitality.

I loved that the authors of this book called in Nancy Leigh DeMoss to address this topic. DeMoss shares the following in this chapter:
"When singles are assimilated into families, everyone benefits. The single adult can have a strong spiritual influence on children that reinforces the training provided by their parents. Singles can meet the needs of parents, such as to have time alone without the children. Families can provide friendship and encouragement to singles. Both families and singles can offer each other mutual support, counsel, accountability, and prayer." (Chapter 6, page 167)
That is so true. You don't need to be a parent in order to know how to connect with a child. In fact, some of my favorite babysitters when I was growing up were some single gals that my parents had befriended. They would come to our home to be around our family and frequently my parents had an opportunity to dash out of the house for a bit on their own. I assume that they enjoyed that freedom because I know I would enjoy the same situation now that I'M a parent!

In fact, I clearly remember two college aged girls that helped my mom host my first slumber party. I thought it was SO COOL that they came and were a part of celebrating my birthday.

My own children absolutely adore their single aunt who loves on them fiercely. They are also quite the enthusiastic fans over an adopted aunt that is a wonderful part of our lives. (In fact, we're excited that this adopted aunt is marrying an awesome guy this summer and now we'll have an adopted uncle to boot!) We are looking forward to sharing our home for a month this summer with a single friend and I know that will be a fun adventure and one that I'm very much looking forward to. We've just had fabulous experiences including singles in our life and I never want to stop doing that! I never CAN stop doing that because I remember what it was like to BE a single and to be seriously alone - away from everything I knew - and sometimes just generally lonely.

Befriend a single. Keep an eye out for them. Bless them with your GOOD fellowship. Listen to them, talk with them, and remember to make time to have FUN with them. Let them be a part of your life and I think you'll find it a delight to be a part of theirs.

With appreciation for the points Ennis and Tatlock make here...



  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. I was single for a long time and wholeheartedly agree that singles are often overlooked.
    It was such a treat to have just an ordinary dinner at some family's home.
    Many of the fellowship events at churches are actually centered around families. Single women usually have to choose between being with the moms or the just out of high school young adults. Sometimes neither is a good fit.
    Personally, I'm not comfortable around small children, and I don't think I'm the only one. I don't think it's safe to assume that a single woman truly wants to be a babysitter.

  2. Julie - I wanted to follow up and agree with you. I tried to make the point I did above that we need to offer singles our "GOOD fellowship." Not our "I'm out to see if you'll make a good babysitter" fellowship.

    I think involving singles in one's family life is good for the whole family - and frequently the children will become attached to those who come in the home, as I did when I was younger.

    I think the point Tatlock was making was that we're, on the whole, too dismissive of singles but that they could be an enormous blessing to the family - if we'll let them in.

    Does that help clarify? I see your point!

    - Carrie, for Offering Hospitality

  3. Thanks for the advocacy. =) Of course, you already know what I think. I can tell the difference between married women who remember being single and those who don't (often because they got married during or right after school) in the way they treat me. I'm thankful for the relationships with families in my church that I have and look forward to getting to know them and others more.

  4. Thanks for writing this, Carrie. I had the same experience you did right after college--attending a new church as a single woman and feeling really out of place. I needed this reminder to be intentional in this area!

  5. I couldn't agree with this more. My husband and I are young, so a great many of our friends are single still. It really hurts to to be invited to spend time with other families and see our single friends overlooked.

    My husband and I have made a commitment to not falling into that trap down the road once we have several children and it's easier to relate to people in the same place of life as we are. Hopefully we'll be successful.