Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hospitality and Children: Preparing for Thanksgiving

from Carrie

We're about a month out from Thanksgiving and so there is really no better time than the present to poke around the internet and find some new and creative ideas of fun ways to celebrate the holidays with the little people in our lives.

Here are some online articles, tips, and resources you might want to make use of in the following month:

Make a Thanksgiving Tree! This project can be as simple or complex as you like! This is an easy, fun and visual way to remind kids of how very blessed that they are. (It's also a pretty good reminder for the parents.) I think we'll be making this tree in our home this year!

Learn a new hymn over the course of the next month to praise God for his faithfulness and goodness to you and your family. You can sing this song as part of your family devotionals, or as you are tucking the kids into bed at night, or around the dinner table! Praising God through song is a wonderful way to worship and fellowship with one another. One hymn that my husband has been teaching our boys of late is Let All Things Now Living (linked to the lyrics.) Here is a Youtube version if you aren't familiar with this beautiful melody. (Lyrics are also included in the video.)

Here is a practical and short little article on Celebrating Thanksgiving With Kids.

One last suggested resource is a relatively new title from Moody Press entitled Growing Grateful Kids: Teaching Them to Appreciate an Extraordinary God in Ordinary Places.

I haven't read this book myself but it's on my Amazon wish list and I'm looking forward to having an opportunity to read it. Have any of you read it and do you have an opinion you can share with us about it?

Or, perhaps, you need a little "Gratitude Pick Me Up" yourself!? Then please let me recommend Nancy DeMoss's Choosing Gratitude. I've linked it up to my review over at Reading to Know and would heartily encourage you to consider this read for yourselves. (Just click on the title to read my earlier thought on this book.) It is my goal to revisit this title myself during these fall months.

Do you have any online resources you can point us to, to share how you are planning to celebrate this upcoming holiday with your kids or grandkids? Now is the time to share them with us!

Also, if you have a blog post that you have written up on your blog discussing this topic, leave us a link! We'd really love to hear what you will be doing to help instill a heart of gratefulness in your children during this special time of year.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hospitality to Strangers

by Crystal

"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2

As the Bible states in Hebrews 13:2, we are called to show hospitality to strangers. But how do we do this in today's society and still keep our families safe?

Here are a few suggestions I have come across that are especially important during the holiday season where you can minister either outside your home or anonymously in some cases.

* Volunteer at a shelter, soup kitchen or the local food bank.

* Arrange to provide a holiday meal for your local firefighters, police officers or other emergency workers who don't get holidays off.

* Participate in a gift ministry such as the Salvation Army or Angel Tree.

* Invite some single people from church or work who have no family around over to share your families holiday meal.

Remember, hospitality is not just having people over for dinner. It is simply showing the love of Christ through any act of service. My special charge for each of our readers today is to participate in a hospitality to strangers ministry this season. My family and I have been the recipients from some of these ministries and I cannot express how blessed we felt all from the kindness and love of someone we've never met and I am always eager to give back when I can.

Maybe some of you already are a part of this kind of ministry? Would you care to tell us about it? Leave a short comment below or send us an email to be featured in a later post.

Quick note re: Women's Ministry in the Local Church Discussion

Note from Carrie

Just a brief FYI - we will continue on with our discussion of Chapter 7 in Women's Ministry in the Local Church next week. (Just a brief hiatus in our usual schedule! We will still wrap this book discussion up before Thanksgiving.)

Again, I would encourage you to consider this book and this discussion in terms of hospitality. How's that? Well, which gender usually works out hospitality within the church? Typically we see the females doing this and so we here at Offering Hospitality feel like it's worth some consideration to see how our hearts need to be set and focused as we pursue Biblical Hospitality. Yes, this book focuses on life in the church but if you are reading this site at all, the chances are you care about hospitality which is one thing that is desperately needed in the church today. Consider how you might practice it, not only in your own homes but how you might be of useful service in your church as well.

If you would like to catch up on past chapters, click on any of the following links.

Chapter 2 - The Need for Women's Ministry
Chapter 3 - The Motive Behind Ministry
Chapter 4 - Five Principles for an Organized Ministry
Chapter 5 - Submission
Chapter 6 - Compassion in Ministry

In the meantime, stay tuned today for a post by Crystal with some suggestions on how you might offer hospitality to strangers over this coming holiday season!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Women's Ministry in the Local Church: Chapter 6 Discussion

Written by Ronnica at Ignorant Historian

Week by week, we've been walking through Women's Ministry in the Local Church by J. Ligon Duncan and Susan Hunt. This week we're on chapter 6, "1 Timothy 3:11--Compassion."

1 Timothy 3:11 says, "Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things." This is the NASU translation. Your translation may say "their wives" instead, as the word is the same in the Greek. It doesn't matter if Paul specifically is referring to the deacon's wives or to all women in the church; we should all aspire to these things, regardless of our position in the church.

I think most churches are good at exercising compassion materially towards others in the church (at least in some regards), and it's usually the women leading the way. It's often easier to focus on the physical needs than the spiritual, but both are crucial. We shouldn't balk when someone struggles go beyond needing someone to watch their kids or prepare a meal for them. And this compassionate care shouldn't stop at the church's doors...we should be seeking ways to love those who are hurting in our communities.

In this chapter Susan Hunt makes some great points. First, I love that she reminds us that we need to be in submission to God and our church elders even when we're seeking to do good. Our intentions may be good, but "the right thing done the wrong way is not right" (p. 89). Another point she makes is that we need to remind ourselves that we aren't exercising compassion because it will gain favor from God. While we should seek to please God, we aren't working to make God love us more.

I know I don't do enough to show compassion to others. Sometimes there just doesn't seem time and energy...but that shouldn't always be the reason to say, "no." Susan Hunt puts it well: "Caring for hurting people will always require more strength and grace than we possess" (p. 93).

Given all the needs we see everyday, how do you decide which needs to meet? Do you struggle with showing compassion?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Food Ministry at Church (guest post)

This is from Kathy, one of our regular readers here at Offering Hospitality


I've been Meals Coordinator (at a number of churches) for families' needs: this might be after a baby is born, when there is significant illness, just before or after a funeral or a family move, for a chronic situation (such as ongoing medical crisis), etc. I developed a brief written questionnaire, asking them to fill this out in advance, when possible (new baby coming). I kept a file on each family we served, having asked these questions:

1) General part of town you live in (to minimize, when possible, the cooks having to drive from the far SW side of town, thru traffic, to the far NE side of town ...) This general area (and any unusual food needs, such as gluten free) is posted in the request for volunteer cooks, so they can calculate if they can do this.
a) address -- including landmarks and color of house;
b) Home and cell phone numbers; which one is better to use?
c) Email address (optional), IF checked daily

2) Food preferences are huge. I did a mini interview with the family, to assess these points:
a) Food allergies -- SPECIFICALLY ask about nuts, dairy, wheat, eggs
b) Absolute hates -- ("kiddos won't eat any green veggie"; spicy foods)
c) Special diet: Vegetarian, gluten-free; low fat, low salt, low carb, diabetic; sugar free, no desserts desired ...
d) Do you like ethnic foods, such as Asian, Italian, Hispanic, mid-eastern? (Which ones yes or no.)
e) Do you eat pork products? This includes pork, ham (ham& bean dishes), bacon (including in salads), BBQ pork, and for some folk, jello (gelatin).
f) Do you enjoy fish -- grilled or baked real fish; tuna casserole; fish stew?

3) Time you'd prefer food to be delivered, understanding that this timing might not be possible for the cook. Do you want the cook to call right before s/he comes?

4) How many adults and children will be eating? How old are the kids? (15 y/o boys eat much more than 4 y/o girls!)

5) Do you prefer all disposable containers, or will you wash and return the containers?

Instructions to the cooks:

1) Make contact with the family at least 24 hrs before it is your turn to bring food. Conditions may have changed; they may have more than enough food for tomorrow (since so many people tend to be very generous with portion sizes.)

2) Clearly label with your name and phone number any non-disposable containers and their lids. If you include a bag with your name on it to return them in, the family can just set the bag on the front porch for easy pick-up, if desired.

3) Don't insist on seeing the new baby -- mom might not feel up to it! But if you ARE allowed in, make it a very brief (5 minute) visit, unless mom invites you to stay longer.
Final suggestions:

1) Because the new baby's grandma might come to help after the birth, assess whether or not the family wants food brought in while grandma is here, or, would they prefer meals after grandma leaves?

2) Because so many cooks are very generous, you might want meals only every other day. In between, the family can eat leftovers. Otherwise, the food tends to pile up in the fridge.

3) If food is for a crowd right after the funeral, would the family like church people to come in to set up while the family is at the funeral? (to Meals Coordinator: would there be enough volunteers to even offer this service?


I think you ladies will agree that this is a great list of practical tips, suggestions and questions we can ask when we are coordinating meals for another! Thanks, Kathy, for sharing your approach to helping serve others in the church through a food ministry!

Any tips or tricks any of you would add to this? Please feel free to share in the comments!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Women's Ministry in the Local Church: Chapter 5 Discussion

written by Carrie

Ah ha. I have the fun chapter to discuss this week.



As I mentioned in the introduction, Hunt and Duncan favor a complimentarian view of women and men, striving towards upholding a Biblical view of the roles that each sex plays. Women are not subservient to men, but they do have different skills and talents which they can use to compliment the men. Chapter 5's discussion is more of the same.

Hunt makes two particular points that I'd like to focus on, and I'd like to bring this back to what this means when it comes to offering hospitality in our own homes, in a partnership with our husbands.

#1 - "A woman's ministry should be a quiet-spirited ministry that causes no disturbance in the male leadership." (page 72)

#2 - ". . . [S]ubmission in marriage and submission in the church cannot be separated. If a woman does not submit in her marriage, she will bring that rebellious attitude into the church. A leader of women, including single women, must have respect for and commitment to God's kingdom order in the home and church." (page 75)

To this I would merely add, (without arguing over the definition of submission, as I think I'd just refer back to the Danvers statement as I pointed out in the Introduction), that in order for the woman to practice the ministry of hospitality in the home, she needs to be in agreement and under the care of her husband in doing so.

Think about it. Women like to talk more. They like to get together and gab. They are more relational than men tend to be. Yet, men also crave good fellowship and the woman is sometimes in the best position to create an environment to foster healthy, spiritual fellowship with others in the home. But in order to practice hospitality successfully, it would behoove her to seek the opinions, advice and personal preferences of her husband in doing so. Stephanie wrote a great post on this recently, about the differences between her and her husband's extrovert/introvert tendencies. By finding out what kind of gatherings and events her husband most appreciated, she can serve both him and their family well when she plans to offer hospitality to others.

Husbands and spiritual authorities can offer a great deal of protection in helping the woman to gauge herself and her own energy levels well when deciding how much to take on. The man's role of overseer and protector of the home can be a great boon to her as she makes plans and sets schedules. This isn't something to balk over. Rather, it is something to be embraced as each sex helps its help meet!

I think that's the point I would draw away from Hunt's book. In order to engage in ministry inside or outside of the home effectively, it is beneficial for a woman to understand the life giving gifts and the role that God has given to her. Exercised effectively, and the ministry blossoms exponentially because she has submitted herself to her God, and to her husband and has accepted and embraced the role that she has been given to fulfill.

Women really have great deal of power to either destroy fellowship with others or to bring and birth life into relationships and situations. Understanding that role is imperative - especially as we are focusing on how to reach out to others and properly share Christ and His word to one another.

I continue to think Women's Ministry in the Local Church is extremely relevant for the topic of hospitality. If you have avoided this discussion so far, I hope you'll reconsider and think about what you might bring or add to our discussions here as we seek to be God-honoring women in all that we think, say and do.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Practicing Hospitality During Busy Seasons of Life

from Stephanie

It's time to say good-bye to the carefree fun-filled days of summer and hello to the activity-packed productive days of school.

If your life is anything like mine, your fall calendar is already filling up with church events, school meetings, and extra-curricular activities. So, how do we obey the command to be hospitable when life is already overflowing with busyness?

Be intentional about hospitality.

One online dictionary defines "intentional" as an action "characterized by conscious design or purpose". In other words, you plan ahead. I know, I know. All my spontaneous-loving friends just groaned, but before you move on to another blog, please hear me out. I'm not saying plan every detail today for a dinner 3 months away. I'm just asking you to be conscious of hospitality as you fill in your calendar.

For example, all year I have thought about hosting a pizza and movie night for some friends. Do you know how many times my thoughts have become action? 0. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

The main reason for my lack of hospitality is lack of planning. I tell myself "next month" and then I blink and next month's calendar is full to the brim. So I say "next month" again, only to have that month fill up before I invite my friends over. It's a vicious cycle.

This fall I am determined to change that cycle. I am going to sit down with my calendar (which already has our commitments and appointments on it) and write in "Hospitality" on specific days I want to invite people into my home from now until Thanksgiving. As those days get closer, then I'll plan the what and who.

By being intentional about when I will offer hospitality I hope to increase my obedience to this Biblical command.

Do you struggle with finding time for hospitality? How do you solve this problem?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Comfort Foods!

It's October and that means we're getting settled into our busy schedules, cooler weather has come and it's the calm before the holiday storm. This month we want to share recipes that bring you comfort. What is that go to recipe whenever you're needing a little pick me up? Maybe it's something your mom or grandmother used to make, a childhood favorite, a yummy dessert or something that celebrates your heritage. Hey, it could even be your favorite take out dish! ;-)
Just don't forget to blog about it and link up to share!

I don't know why this is a family favorite in our house, but seriously every time I make it there is never any leftovers, everyone is very happy and it's pretty simple to make!

Poultry Farmer's Pie
(aka Shepherd Pie)
1 lb ground meat
approx. 2 cups of gravy
1 bag frozen veggies
6-8 servings prepared mashed potatoes
Start by browning some meat in a pan, I use ground turkey seasoning with garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle on one packet gravy, I use turkey gravy, and some water (Using the packet to measure out the water according to pkg directions) and simmer for a few minutes, until gravy thickens. Stir occasionally. If your pan is not oven safe, transfer meat and gravy to an oven safe dish, add a layer of vegetables (frozen, canned (drained) or fresh doesn't matter). I usually use corn. Then add a top layer of prepared mashed potatoes (again instant or fresh doesn't really matter). Place in a 350 deg. oven for about 25-40 minutes or until golden peaks start to show on the potatoes. Serve with a salad and bread or as is.

I like this dish because you can make it as fancy or simple as you like it. You can use more expensive meats, make your own gravy, add fresh veggies and pipe on your mashed potatoes for a really sophisticated meal or just keep it basic, like we do. It's delicious either way! Got me thinking too, this would be a great way to serve up Thanksgiving left overs. Just layer cooked foods in an oven safe dish and bake until heated through!

photo from
Look at this shepherd pie that Gordon Ramsay served up on his show Kitchen Nightmares! Gorgeous!
You can find his recipe here!

If mac & cheese is your kinda thing, go here and become part of Gooseberry Patch's circle of friend, where you can download their ecookbook, 25 Macaroni and Cheese Recipes!

Again, don't forget to grab this button and link up your post!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Women's Ministry in the Local Church: Chapter 4 Discussion

By Stephanie from Offering Hospitality and Stephanie's Mommy Brain.

It's easy for us to agree that a church needs a women's ministry. It's also easy to agree that Jesus Christ is the motivation for our women's ministry. But then things start to get a little fuzzy.

Duncan and Hunt help clarify and guide our efforts to minister to women by naming five foundational principles for an organized women's ministry (and any ministry for that matter): The Gospel, Truth, Sound Doctrine, Discipleship, and Covenant.

Today I am going to focus on Truth and Discipleship as those two resonate with me most. Not that the others aren't necessary, I just don't have much to say about them {smile}.

The truth about womanhood has been culturally conditioned. At a conference a young college woman asked, 'How can I think biblically about womanhood when I am constantly told to pursue my own dreams, to be true to myself, and to seek my own fulfillment? (page 59)

This quote echoes my heart's cry. Where is Truth in the messages I hear about being a woman? Messages that tell me I should be a "strong woman." Or that I am "sacrificing" by being a stay at home mom. Or that I have to take care of myself first or I won't have anything left to give my family.

Only in a truth-based church will you hear "we exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope." (Romans 5:2b-5 NASB)

Or "if anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me." (Matthew 16:24 NASB)

Deny myself. Exult in tribulations. It's difficult to reconcile those two statements with the "be all, do all, have it all" of our culture's vision of womanhood.

But it's truth. Truth you can build your life on. Like the wise man who built his house on the rock. A women's ministry helps women build their lives and we all want our lives built on truth. Because without truth you are building on sand. And we all know what happened when the foolish man built his house on the sand.

Hearing truth at church is one thing. Seeing it lived out in the lives of other women is something altogether different. This is where the discipleship of Titus 2 comes into play.

As women, we are relational and we learn best through our relationships. Especially relationships that allow us to observe and participate in everyday life. What better way is there to teach the concept that children are a blessing from God than for a young woman to develop a relationship with a mom who lives out that principle?

Unfortunately the relationships of Titus 2, without the truth and sound doctrine, often become the focus of a women's ministry. Duncan and Hunt warn that "if we overemphasize content, the ministry will be academic. If the emphasis is only relational, the ministry will be anemic." (page 60)

That's why a women's ministry needs all 5 principles to be healthy. The Gospel, The Truth, Sound Doctrine, Discipleship and Covenant all balance each other. Focusing a little too much on one and not enough on another can disable or even cripple a women's ministry.

Does your church have a women's ministry? If so, is it built on these 5 principles?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Recipe Swap Reminder

Just your friendly reminder that our montly recipe swap will be taking place this next Wednesday October, 6th! This month's theme is "Comfort Foods". Get those creative juices flowing, cook, blog and share!