“Boys, we are having a few families from church over for dinner tonight.”
“Oh, Mom!” groaned one of my boys. “I don’t like when people come over. Someone always destroys my things.”
We often have people over to our house. Whether it is new visitors from church, co-workers, small group members, or friends who need encouragement, we believe in opening our house in hospitality. Scripture says, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9).
Children and hospitality can go together.
When people think of hospitality, we usually think of it as something adults do. We open our doors to welcome others in and share a meal, fellowship and our lives. But hospitality involves children too. They also have to share their space, toys, and time with those visiting. In our family, because of responses like that above from our children, we are intentional in teaching and including our children in hospitality.
In fact, opening our home in hospitality ought to be a family event where everyone participates. It’s a great opportunity for children to learn and practice loving others through sharing what they have. It’s also helps children see how we can live out the gospel in a practical way. As God gave of his Son for us so that we might live, when we open our homes in hospitality, we are giving sustenance, comfort, help, and the love of Jesus.
In our home, our children participate by helping us prepare for our guest’s arrival. We talk in advance on how they are to treat, play with and welcome other children. We also use this time of preparation to talk with them about why we share with others--because of how much God has shared with us through his Son, Jesus.
A few practical ways for your children to join you in hospitality:
- Have your children help plan activities to do with guests. They can plan games, crafts, or even fun outdoor activities to do with the children who are coming.
- Have them help in preparations. My children have claimed cleaning our large sliding back door every time we have guests. It helps them take some ownership of having guests over.
- Have them put away their most important toys, ‘lovey’s’, and things they would be most upset about being damaged before guests arrive. The rest of the toys are for everyone to play with.
- Have them help set up a kid’s table, plan the menu, and even help cook.
- Talk about the people who are coming and have them practice friendly greetings, conversation starters and even practice how to handle difficult guests. Teach them the importance of loving others the way God has loved them.
The next time you invite guests over, don’t forget to include your children so that they too can learn to “show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
Christina Fox is a homeschooling mom, licensed mental health counselor, writer, and coffee drinker, not necessarily in that order. She lives in sunny S. Florida with her husband of sixteen years and their two boys. You can find her sharing her faith journey at To Show Them Jesus and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ToShowThemJesus