Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Q & A: Hospitality to, er, Unruly Children

This is a topic that can get under people's skin and fire up a lot of emotions, opinions and downright convictions! That is: disobedient children and how to deal with them.

Blogger Ellen asked the Offering Hospitality Staff the following question and I, Carrie, will confess to you that I've been sitting on this one for awhile. It's a delicate subject matter and one that requires an excessive amount of grace. Even the staff members here differed on particulars and so I think what we'll go ahead and do is post Ellen's question and open the comment section up for you to offer your advice.

*****

Hi! Just stumbled across your site today, and I realized I'd love to ask a question. We've been practicing hospitality in different ways for the 9 years of our marriage, and we've really enjoyed it for the most part.

But... I've run into a big snag for me in practicing hospitality. We have two little boys now, ages 3 and 1. Most of our friends have children. We don't have a ton of space. We find that dinners with some friends aren't enjoyable because they're chasing or managing their children most of the time, so we've tried just doing dessert and keeping it more simple.

In addition, we have some friends who let their children run and scream and and jump all over, pushing toys into walls, leaving toys everywhere, etc. This is how they are in their own home, so it doesn't surprise me that they act the same way elsewhere. I feel horrible about it, but I really don't like having them here. I cringe and start getting stressed even thinking about having them over.

Do you have any recommendations for verses to look at or things to pray about this situation? I want to have a welcoming heart about this, and it's very tough for me. I want to be the type of laid back person who really doesn't care... but I do. And I want to stop letting some children's behavior bother me.

Any suggestions?

***
First off, let me be quick to point out that Ellen went straight towards the best source looking for answers - the Bible. What DOES the Bible have to say about children?

  • They are a gift (Gen. 3:5; Ps. 113:9)
  • They are a heritage (Ps. 127:3-5)
  • Jesus welcomed them to Him (Mark 10:13-16)
  • We are to welcome them into our lives and fellowship with them. (Matt. 18:2-6, 10)

I think it is pretty clear that we are to welcome children into our lives and show hospitality to them. However, some children are more difficult to invite into the home than others. This is a great quandary and where each family chooses to draw their boundary line, I believe, needs to be between them and God.

Now, Ellen is also asking for some practical suggestions and here are a few that our staff would make and we would also ask for the advice and opinions of others.

  1. You might consider having families with more rambunctious children over for outdoor events, where the noise levels will not be as much as an issue and there will be plenty of room to run and play.
  2. Hosting an event at a neutral location, such as a park might be a good idea.
  3. Planning for an evening out with just the parents of the children might be the best choice for this particular season of life. (You do have to consider your own family boundaries and safety concerns when having others over.)
  4. You might consider putting away items and toys that you would rather your friend's children not play with and setting out specific toys that you do not mind them playing with. This might help to alleviate some of the tension of maintaining proper boundaries within your own home.
We also, as a staff, think that this question poses some good food for thought for anyone who is currently parenting young children. It's important to be respectful and mindful of other people's homes and property. Training your children how to respect and respond to the hospitality of others starts at home. For those of us with young kids, it would be good to take heed of the concerns that other people feel towards having young children over to play and instruct our children how to behave in social settings so that they a.) cause the least amount of offense possible b.) learn to behave in public and c.) learn how to be obedient and respectful of others.

This is tough stuff - on both sides of the line! So I'll stop talking now and open the floor.

What would you say to Ellen?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Women's Ministry in the Local Church: Chapter 3 Discussion

by Melissa at Breath of Life

Last week Ronnica talked about the need for women’s ministry. This week, we turn our attention to the motive behind having a women’s ministry. That’s the topic of Chapter 3: The Motive.

When Carrie was scheduling our discussions, I asked to write about this chapter because it spoke so distinctly to my heart. It’s taken from a sermon that J. Ligon Duncan gave, and Susan Hunt specifically asked him to include it in the book. In my humble opinion, this chapter alone makes the entire book worth reading.

I’ve attended many women’s events over the years, some wonderful and some not. At the last conference I attended, the speakers talked about God but didn’t even use Scripture. Instead, they offered little more than a bunch of moral platitudes. I had gone seeking a weekend of spiritual growth, and the “feel good” weekend left me feeling anything but good.

Much of my frustration with women’s ministry can be summed up in that one experience. I’m not against laughing and having fun; there’s a definite place in women’s ministry for that. But a Biblically-based women’s ministry will offer more than a girls’ night out. It will go beyond wanting to give women a chance to kick up their heels with their friends. A true women’s ministry will be different than other pop culture offerings for women; it will also encourage women to be different.

Duncan states, “Without a proper esteem and love for Christ Himself, and an understanding of His covenant love for His church, we will lack the motive-force to serve Him in the world.” (p. 46) If we don’t have the proper motive - love for Christ - we will be ineffective. Christ must be the very reason we seek to minister to others. Without Christ as our motive, we won’t be interested in meeting spiritual needs; we’ll be planning social functions with no lasting impact.

Christ must also be at the heart of a ministry because “[i]f our ultimate motivation is simply because we love people, we will never be able to sustain the call to service that God as given to us because the very people we are called to serve will break our hearts. It is only the grace of Christ that enables us to persevere.” (p. 46) We women are emotional creatures. We tend to wear our hearts on our sleeves, and we are skilled at wielding our tongues. That’s why having the proper motive is so very important. If we are ministering for any reason other than our love for Christ, we’ll be tempted to throw in the towel when people hurt or disappoint us.

Duncan emphasizes that women’s ministry should teach women to love the church, which, at times can seem pretty unlovable. We are a bunch of sinners, saved by grace. We make mistakes. We fail. But we are the Bride of Christ. “The Christian must serve in utter dependence on and with a deep love for Jesus Christ...Falling in love with Christ means falling in love with His Church.” (pp.51-52) When we have a proper love for the church, we will be motivated to serve God wherever He calls.

Is Christ the motivation behind the women’s ministry in your church? In your own life?


****

Melissa blogs about faith and family on her own blog, Breath of Life. She is also a contributing member at Southern Baptist Girl, a site designed to encourage women to think deeply on matters of faith and life.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hospitality Outside the Home (Guest Post)

Guest post from *Carrie* from with all that i've been given

“The image of preparing a table, or preparing a place, is a good overall image for hospitality. In genuine hospitality we work to make our entire existence a welcoming table, a place prepared for others to be at ease, to receive from us comfort and strength.”

–Radical Hospitality
I just love that quote. We should each be working so that our entire existence is welcoming to others. I think a lot of times we define hospitality as having others over, particularly for a meal, but there is so much more to it than that!

I appreciated a recent post on this blog called “Hospitality on the Road,” in which Crista shared a wonderful suggestion from Karen Ehman’s book A Life That Says Welcome: “Start by making a list of the things you're good at, such as baking, crafts, writing letters, intercessory prayer, cleaning, organizing, or connecting with children. If you're not sure, ask your family and close friends for their input! Once you have a list of talents you can offer to those around you, make a list of ways you can use those talents to bless the people in your own sphere.”

There were some great ideas offered in both the post and the comments, but since this is a topic I’ve continued to think about, I asked (the other) Carrie if I could share some additional thoughts here.

* I enjoy baking and making food for others, and our church offers many ways to practice this form of hospitality outside the home. I am grateful for these opportunities, because as a mom who stays home with two young children, there are many needs and projects in the church for which I am not well-suited at this time.

Some of the ways I’ve partnered with our church to make others feel welcome or to meet a need:

* bringing a meal to families with a new baby (I’m on a rotating list of others who’ve indicated a willingness to serve in this way.)

*bringing homemade cookies for the youth group’s annual bake sale

*making chili for our church’s regular service at the soup kitchen

*making cakes for funeral receptions

*contributing to meals for college students

Surely your own church has similar ways to serve. You may not be able to go on a mission trip right now, or to give a large sum to that end, but I bet you can bake some cookies for others to buy at a fundraiser! Even though much of these efforts are “behind the scenes,” I think they still convey a sense of community and service that is a piece of how I define hospitality.

* An acquaintance recently e-mailed me that a student from her area would be coming to our local college as a freshman, and she asked if I would be willing to check on the student after move-in weekend. Right before I headed over to the girl’s dorm, I had the idea to make her a little care package. I grabbed a couple things I had on hand, put them in a cute gift bag, and wrote a welcome note. I told her I was giving her three things every college student needs: caffeine (a can of Coke), chocolate (some candy), and a quick meal for a busy day (that old college staple, ramen).

Is there someone around you (or far away) who could use a care package? My example illustrates that it can be simple and inexpensive, but I definitely think it’s the thought that counts! My mom set a wonderful example for my sister and me in this area. She often sends little gifts or notes or a copy of an article she thinks we’ll enjoy. What a nice idea, especially since we live so far apart!

* Another idea for having a welcoming existence is to introduce yourself to someone new next time you’re at the park. I waffle between being an introvert and an extrovert, and sometimes my mood alone can make me feel shy, so I know it’s not always easy to do this. But the other day, I saw a mom I didn’t recognize who was holding a newborn and chasing a toddler. I went over and introduced myself, and we had a nice chat in between the kids’ needs. =) This family moved to our small town this summer, so I told her all about MOPS and some of the programs offered by our local library. I really love sharing these resources with other moms, especially because I know how much I appreciate when others do the same.

I hope this has given you something to consider, and I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts. What do you do--what can you do--to be a welcoming presence to others?

Carrie blogs about life and stewardship at with all that I’ve been given. http://watibg.blogspot.com/

*******
Do you have a post in mind that you would like to write up and share with our readers here at Offering Hospitality? Please e-mail us on the side with any thoughts or ideas you might have! offeringhospitality (at) gmail (dot) com

Monday, September 20, 2010

Women's Ministry in the Local Church: Chapter 2 Discussion

Led by Ronnica from Ignorant Historian

In chapter 2 of Women's Ministry in the Local Church, Duncan and Hunt spell out the need for women's ministry. Here they define their position (and mine) beautifully:

"Complementarians believe that the Bible teaches that God has created men and women equal in their essential dignity and human personhood, but differently and complementary in function--with male spiritual leadership in the home and believing community, the Church, being understood as a part of God's design." (p. 32-33)


For a little background, I should share that I'm young, single, and the focal point of my ministry is children. Though I've studied biblical views of gender issues in seminary, I don't have much (any) practical experience to back it up. When I started this book, I really had to think through what my church does that would be official "women's ministry." I've always been encouraged to build relationships with women in my care group and in the larger church, but have rarely participated in women's events which we hold a few times a year.

That said, this book has helped me to think through what should women's ministry look like as I agree with Duncan and Hunt that it is necessary.

So, why do we need women's ministry?

  • We live in a culture that is constantly teaching us about gender, directly and indirectly. The church should have something to say about this as God's Word certainly isn't silent on this issue.

  • For women to grow to be godly women, we have to understand what that means. Preaching and teaching in godliness alone isn't enough; we need to know specifically how we should act out our faith as women. God created men and women to be different, so godliness will look different in some respects between the two sexes.


  • The church needs to support godly marriages. We've all heard about the divorce figure within the church being the same as in the world and about the rising numbers of churches accepting homosexual couples as a part of their membership...obviously the church needs help in this area.


What evidence have you seen for the need of women's ministries? Do you agree with Duncan and Hunt that it's necessary?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Single Hospitality (Guest Post)

by Ronnica at Ignorant Historian

As far as hospitality goes, I have two things working against me: I am unintentionally single as well as an incurable introvert.

Both are excellent excuses for avoiding hospitality.

But that’s exactly what they are: excuses.

I’m the last person who should be writing this post. Though I love to have people over, I rarely do it. Social engagements are something that I struggle with. I don’t like going in to anything alone, but that’s what I need to force myself to do. While I’m a fan of more intimate gatherings, I let my busyness and my fear of man (not wanting to be turned down or thought “weird”) stop me from doing them more often. Not to mention my selfish desires for my time to be my own time.

I’m thankful for the opportunities that I’ve been given to be hospitable, whether hosting someone in my home or organizing a breakfast for others. But I need to be better at reaching out for opportunities to serve, sharing the love of Christ.

Here’s advice that I’ve been given or discovered and have found helpful/challenging:

Take the initiative. If you’re like me, you haven’t been offered too many invitations to come over and enjoy a family meal. Don’t wait for someone to invite you…invite them.

Be creative. Perhaps you’re limited in space or by those you live with, but be welcoming nonetheless. Pay attention to the needs of those around you: Is there someone new at church that could use a new friend? Is there a couple in desperate need of a night away from their young children? Is there a family going through a trying time that could use a meal? Is there a neighbor who needs to be shown the love of Christ, such as having their windows deiced in the morning or a plate of muffins delivered to their door?

Treat wherever you live now as your home. Of course our true home is in heaven, but treat wherever you live now—however temporary—as a home and not just a place to lay your head down at night once you shove your discarded wardrobe and books off your bed. Keep it organized. Find inexpensive ways to make it look nice. This will be a blessing to yourself and your family/roommates as well as make you feel more comfortable hosting guests.

Don’t apologize for a meal/dishes/furniture that aren’t up to some cultural standard. Don’t be restricted by what you see in a homemaking magazine. Hospitality doesn’t require hundreds of dollars of investment. Sure, save up to buy a complete dish set that would complement your d├ęcor, but don’t wait until you have it to invite anyone over. Be a good steward of what you have, but don’t feel bad if your couch has some warn spots, your apartment carpet shows evidence of previous occupants, or if your best dishes don’t match. And as for the cooking, try out a new recipe ahead of time to work out the kinks. No need to be gourmet…I always have felt more at home with more down-to-earth menu options.

Just do it. Stop making excuses. Make one hospitality goal this week, and carve out some time in your schedule to do it. Plan ahead to next week…is there someone you can invite over?

I hope you’ll join me in seeking to be a better servant of God by serving others. Carolyn McCulley has this excellent reminder for us:

“Ladies, may we never fear odd numbers around our tables, for our Lord is always with us.” Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?, p. 115

Monday, September 13, 2010

Women's Ministry in the Local Church: Introduction

written by Carrie

This is our first week to discuss the book Women's Ministry in the Local Church, by J. Ligon Duncan and Susan Hunt. Published by Crossway Books, we'll be walking through a discussion of our reading of this title from now through the month of November, taking the book apart chapter by chapter.

The following women will be taking turns leading the weekly discussions:

Carrie from Reading to Know and Offering Hospitality (that would be me!)

Ronnica from Ignorant Historian

Melissa from Breath of Life and Southern Baptist Girl

Stephanie from Stephanie's Mommy Brain and Offering Hospitality

We are all in different states, churches and life circumstances but we all agree on one thing - women have a role to play in the church and we want to be Biblically discerning when it comes to figuring out what that role is and the right way to fulfill it. I personally approached each of these other blogging women listed above because I've followed their blogs for some time, and have come to know, trust and respect their opinions. I'm delighted to walk through this book with them and see what everyone has to say about it.

Furthermore, we are very glad to have you along for the ride and hope you will vocalize your thoughts to us as we take this journey together.

It's my job today to introduce this book to you and I do want to make a few things about it very clear as we get started.

Number 1: Susan Hunt wrote this book alongside J. Ligon Duncan, who is a pastor in the PCA (the denomination Hunt is a part of.) That to say, there is a male figure also leading the message of this book which is something I appreciate on a topic such as this.

Number 2: I want to take special note of the opening paragraph in this book which states the following:

"The subject of this book is not women; it is the Church of the Lord Jesus. Though the focus of the book is one specific area of the church's ministry, a biblical understanding of the church acknowledges that no part stands alone. A women's ministry is one component of the total life and work of a local church." (Chapter 1, The Story, page 17)
Number three: In Chapter 1 the authors spell out the fact that they are building the book on two bodies of work: The Danvers Statement of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and The Biblical Foundation of Womanhood Materials.

I have linked to The Danvers Statement for your convenient and would greatly encourage you to spend this week just familiarizing yourself with this resources as the authors have clearly given a nod in its direction. Duncan and Hunt include the Ten Affirmations of The Danvers Statements and this website link leads you to the rationale and the Ten Affirmations. It will take you all of 15 minutes to read and is well worth your time to develop a better understanding of this book and the message it intends to deliver.

For now, this is where I'm going to leave you. Short and sweet. Just read through The Danvers Statement and we'll move on from there.

We hope you are excited to join us. We recognize this is a testy subject for some, so please pray that we would handle it both sensitively, wisely and well. It is not our goal to be divisive, but to discover what roles women can play within the church. As I believe that one way women can serve the body of Christ is through hospitality, I'll definitely be curious to hear what topics Duncan and Hunt choose to hit upon! We welcome your thoughts, opinions and comments so please do not be afraid to share!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Extrovert vs Introvert Hostesses and Their Families

I looked around the living room and didn't see my (then) 3.5 year old son anywhere. His brother (about 5 years old at the time) occupied center stage and entertained our guests with gusto. I wondered where the younger boy could be so I went in search.

I found him sitting in his bedroom with one of our guests quietly working a puzzle. My first thought was that he felt sick but, after asking a few questions, I realized he just felt overwhelmed by the 10 or 12 twenty-somethings celebrating Christmas with us.

Since that night I always expect 2 things to happen during any event my family hosts: one son will be found in the middle of the group chatting their ears off and the other son will seek out a quiet corner with only a couple of people to listen to.

The funny thing is that my husband and I are just like the boys. I'm the one who loves a BIG party and feels neglectful if I don't have a conversation with every person in attendance. My husband on the other hand prefers groups of 6 to 8 and looks for a nice quiet corner when he's at a large party.

I confess this difference in personality has caused me a great deal of frustration and annoyance in the past. I wanted my husband to enjoy the same kind of parties I enjoyed. I wanted him to engage people in conversation. I wanted us to host large cook-outs and church-wide fellowships.

But that isn't the way God created my husband or one of my sons. God designed them to prefer small gatherings and me to love a big bash. He made us different which isn't good or bad, just different.

What does my family's personality differences mean for me as a hostess?

Well, I realized after a recent large gathering that I need to consider the introverts in my family when I volunteer to host an event. That means only hosting one large gathering a year and planning small intimate dinners the rest of the time. It also means that large gathering should be in the summer so we can be in the backyard and my introverts won't be overwhelmed by 30+ people in our 1150 sq. foot home.

While I don't necessarily need to give up big parties I do need to adjust my expectations and extend hospitality to my own family first. After all, what's the point of 30 friends and acquaintances having a great time if some of the people I love most in the world are miserable?

It's a balancing act that I'm learning to make for my husband and son. I'd love to learn how you balance the different personalities in your home while obeying the mandate to offer hospitality.

Do you have any suggestions for me or is this the first time you've thought about personalities and their influence on hospitality?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Recipe Swap: Potluck Foods

Ahh...Fall is almost here! I may be the only one, but I am so ready for Fall this year. I am looking forward to what God has in store for us this school year. I love the cooler stormy weather, cuddling up with a good book, a yummy smelling candle, cozy blanket and a hot cup of coffee or cocoa. With the upcoming cooler weather we are moving our entertaining indoors and looking to share our favorite potluck recipes.


My church does a fun fellowship opportunity called Supper Clubs. Those who sign up are put in groups and once a month your group meets in each persons home for a potluck dinner. It's been a few years since our church has done this and I am excited for it's return. Does your church/family/community do something similar?

Link up your favorite potluck recipes and share!

This is my favorite thing to bring to potluck dinners. They are easy to make and everyone enjoys them. Drizzle with a bit of honey to make them extra sweet!

Sweet Corn Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Corn Meal
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2 Lg eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbsp butter, melted




PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Grease or paper-line 18 to 20 muffin cups.
COMBINE flour, sugar, corn meal, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Combine milk, eggs, vegetable oil and butter in small bowl; mix well. Add to flour mixture; stir just until blended. Pour into prepared muffin cups, filling 2/3 full.
BAKE for 18 to 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool slightly. Serve warm.

When I make these at home I use my cornbread skillet (pictured above), which gives a larger portion. They could even be done in a mini muffin pan or the recipe could be doubled, tripled, etc to get more servings out of each batch.
Corn Muffins Two Ways...Yumm!!!


Still want more ideas? Check out this cookbook with lots of ideas on dishes to serve a crowd.



Hospitality