Welcome to Hive Resources. This post is part of my Once A Month Hospitality Challenge – a series to help you intentionally open your heart and home to grow the church.
I started my Once a Month Hospitality Challenge with one proviso – I wouldn’t buy anything other than food and paper goods.
No new serving platters, table decorations, or cute little hand towels.
So, with that rule “settled,” I started planning for the first meal of my hospitality challenge.
I planned out the guest list. We invited two couples who were new to our church to join us for lunch immediately following the morning worship service.
I planned out the menu. My co-conspirator, Nicole, and I wanted to simplify lunch by serving cold cuts, salad, and a really yummy Chicken Parmesan Soup (with grated cheese and homemade croutons!)
So far so good.
I planned out the table arrangements. Our lunch crowd numbered 10. But my dining room table only fits eight if we squeeze everyone in and no one minds bumping elbows.
The math was troubling; we couldn’t all fit.
So, obviously, I came to the only natural conclusion there is when one is faced with limited seating space.
I definitely needed a new dining room table!
It seemed perfectly logical to me. The little voice inside my head told me so. If I had a large farmhouse dining room table, I could serve more people.
That little voice also told me benches would be a more practical purchase since my current chairs wouldn’t match the new table. Naturally.
And as I imagined how marvelous my white place settings would look against rustic wood, that little voice began to grow. In fact it grew most of the week, filling my mind with any number of doubts as to where everyone would sit and how would it work and…and…and…
…and Pinterest didn’t help either.
Wow. That table would seat a lot.
And well, that’s just lovely.
I mean, think of of all the ministry I could do around that table!
An Issue of the Heart
By Saturday I was kicking myself for concocting that little no-purchase proviso. And by Sunday, I had worked myself into such a tizzy that I walked into the church service thinking about juggling seats instead of focusing my heart on the One who is already seated in the heavenlies preparing a special table for all his children.
I looked around the service, noting all the new faces I saw.
What a pity that I couldn’t fit all of them around my teeny, tiny table, I thought to myself. And when my husband mentioned inviting a few more people to our already-full table, I balked.
“More people?” I asked. What was he thinking, the little voice inside me was incredulous. There is limited space already, and you don’t have enough matching glasses. (Because, you know, matching glasses are really important.)
“We don’t have enough room. We’ll have to invite them next time,” I told my husband, needlessly reminding him that we’re doing this thing once a month.
And that’s when it happened.
On the way out of the service, we discovered one couple wasn’t able to attend lunch. We looked around, quickly discovering we had missed our opportunity to invite the visitors we had spotted earlier.
And while it certainly solved my seating dilemma, it also gave my heart a jolt in the right direction.
I realized I had allowed that little runaway voice in my head who was screaming “YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH SPACE!” to silence the soft murmurings of the Holy Spirit.
I had missed a crucial opportunity to connect with people God had placed in my path. I had planned a large and lovely meal but hadn’t invited enough guests to the table.
By the time we were driving home from church, I knew this Once a Month Hospitality Challenge needed to be bigger, and buying a new dining room table wasn’t the answer.
I needed to open my heart wider by closing the door on perfectionism.
My heart wanted a perfectly laid out table with matching linens. My heart wanted porcelain place settings and coordinating stemware. My heart wanted these things because they made a perfect picture.
But at it’s root, perfectionism commends only itself instead of the greatness of the God we serve.
So, when we complain about limited space with respect to hospitality, we are guilty of limiting the lavish grace we’ve been given to share with others.
A Needed Heart Change
So, we revised our Once a Month Hospitality plan:
Step 1: Throw away the table settings and embrace paper plates balanced on knees.
Step 2: Throw away family-style dinners and welcome self-serve buffet lines winding through our kitchen around the dining room table.
My Once a Month Hospitality Challenge is now an invitation to an open-house style lunch. We want to get as many visitors to our church through our front door.
That sounds like a big undertaking. Even as I write it, I’m scared.
It will require planning meals that will stretch. It will require communicating the lunch opportunity before and after the worship service (which means getting the whole family to church on time!) It will require having an invitation ready to hand out with our address and driving directions.
But most of all, it will require letting go of perfectionism – and the personal pride it represents – and embracing the people God puts in our path.
No house will ever have enough entertaining space. No dining room table will have enough seats.
There is no perfect home; what makes a home useful is the Spirit who indwells it.
And no matter what that little voice whispers into my ear, I don’t ever want to fall for the same trap of limiting grace under the guise of limited space.
Are you a sucker for the limited space trap? What holds you back from opening your home? Share your thoughts about hospitality in the comments!
Thanks for joining me on this hospitality journey. I hope you’ll stick around to share in some of the lessons God teaches me along the way. Subscribe to Hive Resources here. I’m linking up with Thought-Provoking Thursday.