Practicing Hospitality: Chapter 3

Wel­come back for our chap­ter 3 dis­cus­sion on Prac­tic­ing Hos­pi­tal­ity: The Joy of Serv­ing Others by Pat Ennis & Lisa Tat­lock. This is part 3 of an eight week dis­cus­sion on this book. For part 1, visit here. For part 2, visit here. We are so glad you decided to join us! I Even if you are not par­tic­i­pat­ing in the study, I encour­age you to keep reading. Chapter 3 focused on Hos­pi­tal­ity & Family.


“If the Lord has given us a family, extending hospitality to our family is our first priority.” Once we have established this ministry to our own family, we can then begin to offer it to others outside our home. Hospitality will then become a natural extension to others of what we are already exhibiting to our own families. Why is this important?

  1. For the sake of our integrity – loving our husbands and children are our priorities (Tit. 2:3-5)
  2. For the sake of our children – neglecting our children can build unnecessary resentment that will not bear fruit of the gospel in their lives
  3. For the sake of the gospel - your godly behavior and service to your household and family can be a powerful gospel witness

How can we practice hospitality with a family?

  1. Remember there are seasons in life - each season requires creativity in balancing ministry and family priorities. Some seasons may not allow us to extend hospitality as regularly or extensively. With little ones, it may be best to buy a meal to deliver to a family with a new baby!
  2. Partner with your husband - The command to be hospitable was given to all believers. Include your husband in your extension of hospitality. Allow him to lead and direct what you can take on in your current season. Seek his counsel and direction as to the events, conversation and activity planning for the evening.
  3. Include your childreninvolve them in the preparation process (planning the menu, setting and decorating the table, thinking of creative ways to reach out to the children of the guests you may be inviting over).
  4. Treat your family “as good as guests” - plan special events within your own home (family nights, serving their favorite foods, preparing your appearance, creating  a warm atmosphere, etc).
  5. Keep an orderly home - keeping an orderly home communicates our love to our family in a tangible way.
  6. Use discretionbe wise in discerning how every extension of hospitality might impact your family.
  7. Remember meaningful momentsestablish family traditions.

The Importance of Family Traditions

  1. Family traditions provide a sense of stability or permanence in our homes.
  2. Family traditions provide a method of remembering God’s work in our lives.
  3. Family traditions provide a means of passing on a godly heritage to our children.

Family traditions can be planned and established around:

  1. Spiritual Heritage - establishing traditions that pass on Biblical truths about God, his Word, and their personal relationship with him. In our home this includes morning devotions together as a family, prayer and worship time before bedtime (including a special hymn selected for each of our children), staying together in church on Sunday and making church attendance a priority, regular monthly habits of giving, scheduling twice a month hospitality (once with unbelievers and once with friends in the body of Christ), etc.
  2. Kindred Heritage – Establishing special celebrations that relate to important events in your family- birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, deaths, and other unique dates can all be celebrated as memorable family traditions. A few ideas we are beginning: write letters to our children on birthdays reflecting on their growth over the previous year, making favorite meals and special cakes on birthdays, assembling an annual photo album that includes chronically God’s providence’s from that year, weekly family nights, twice a month date nights to build our marriage, etc.
  3. Holiday HeritageSelecting meaningful traditions to establish around religious or cultural holidays. We purchase special Christmas ornaments for our tree that celebrate events that took place that year, reading advent materials for Christmas, giving a special “Jesus” gift, special breakfasts or meals for the holidays (cranberry twists for Christmas morning), fondue for New Years, etc.


I greatly appreciated the focus of this chapter on establishing a regular habit of purposefully extending hospitality to our own families. I have never really considered that an opportunity to be hospitable, but when you define hospitality as meeting basic needs, welcoming others, showing love , warmth, and encouragement, it does make perfect sense that our family should be our first priority.

This takes planning! I am motivated to develop a list of different traditions that we could begin to cultivate more this year (a regular family night including a special favorite meal and dessert, planning in focused times with my daughter – regular weekly trips to the library, reading times together, including her in food preparations, etc). Including unique table decorations, candles, cloth napkins on occasion can help make my family feel especially appreciated. I am preparing a list of holiday traditions we have started and new additions for this year (special meal for the holiday, books to read together, activities, giving, etc).

This quote by Dorothy Patterson really ministered to me: “Busyness is not godliness. God is not impressed with your production capacity as much as He is concerned that the product of your home – your own children – be chiseled and molded and perfected to the best of your ability. You may tire of this mundane task, but the Lord admonishes you not to grow weary and promises to supply the energy and strength as needed in this all-important task. God’s strength is for what He plans for you to do – not stamina for everything you might want to do!”


We will con­tinue this book next time, Monday, March 2, with chap­ter 4: Hos­pi­tal­ity & Management. If you are inter­ested in join­ing us, please do. Order your copy today here!


I am inter­ested in hear­ing what you took away from this chap­ter. Feel free to post com­ments below or write your thoughts on your blog (and come back and post the link in the com­ments). No need to share any­thing pro­found, just what­ever stood out to you. Here are a few ques­tions to get you started:

1. How can you begin to practice hospitality towards your family?
2. What are your favorite spiritual, kindred or holiday traditions?

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

18 Responses to Practicing Hospitality: Chapter 3

  1. Jody March 2, 2009 at 10:36 am #

    I just found your site in the last couple of weeks after God woke me in the night and told me to change our eating habits and establish wellness and wholeness in our home. I have learned so much from your recipes but I read into this study today for the first time and just wanted to thank you for doing what you do. My husband and I run a large business team which is our ministry and are entering into a new season. As such I am making some preparations in our family and home and was beginning to feel overwhelmed and unsure about moving forward with what we have been called to. After reading some of your summaries and comments, I am encouraged greatly — and excited to get this book — and now i KNOW my family and I will be in readiness for the exciting journey we are about to begin. Blessings!

  2. Linda February 27, 2009 at 7:10 am #

    It’s been wonderful reading this book with you ladies. I don’t have much time to post comments, but I am blessed by reading along with you all. God Bless. Linda

  3. Grace Shannon February 26, 2009 at 6:19 pm #

    Hi Lindsey,
    I’m a first time poster here, though I’ve been reading your blog for months. I just wanted to respond to the poster who asked about keeping an organized home with young children. I certainly struggle with this myself. I’ve found to be a great resource for developing routines to care for my home and maintain peace for all of the people in it.
    Take care,

  4. Mrs. Jo February 24, 2009 at 10:48 pm #

    I am enjoying your series as one of my goals for 2009 is to be more hospitable and invite families from church over. I struggle with reconciling some of the statements above to my life. For instance: Use discretion and consider the impact: We love having company over but I’m busy for days getting ready and am completely exhausted with no hope of sabbath rest when we do. Discretion in this instance points me to not inviting folks home after church and yet this is the only day folks are usually available to come over.

    Keep an orderly home, and yet busy-ness is not godliness: How can I possibly do this? I try and try but with 3 small children, one a baby needing lots of feedings throughout the day, my house is never company ready unless I pour hours and hours into it after they are in bed. And I’m not a perfectionist when it comes to cleaning. Even if all I do is tend the kids I’m busy all day long. I hear so much about taking a day of rest and not being busy and yet I’m wondering how I can possibly not be busy short of giving the kids up for adoption!
    I want so badly to be hospitable, and we have been in the past before we had kids, but I feel like having company over nearly kills me with the work load of it all. Maybe during this season I need to step back a bit from having company over or do it less (or order pizza instead of cooking?) I have experimented with serving simple lunches (baked potatoes) that are cheap due to our tight budget and asking the guests to bring something to contribute to the meal. But then the meal is so busy with all of our little ones that I feel we didn’t get to visit much anyhow! This is a hard stage of life!

    • Lindsay February 26, 2009 at 10:01 am #

      Dear Mrs. Jo,

      I just want to encourage you that there are definitely different seasons of life. You are in a season where you need to keep things more simple. We love to serve homemade waffles on Sunday evenings to our guests, as it is frugal and easy. We always get rave reviews! This is a fun tradition my family started growing up. We also keep things more simple by just scheduling two hospitality times per month – one to reach out to neighbors or unbelievers and the other to continue to build relationships in the body. This has assisted in preventing getting overly stressed.

      As to the point about being discerning, the main thought here is considering wisely the influence your guests may have upon your family and especially your children. For example, allowing your children to spend too much time with unsaved neighborhood children without your supervision may not bring about the best results. That is her point I believe.

      Secondly, as to maintaining a orderly home. The authors go into this in more detail in the next chapter, but I believe the emphasis is maintaining a basically organized home. There is no perfection called for here, but rather some assemblance of order to be prepared especially for impromptu guests. I see this as keeping your possessions simplified so you do not have to maintain alot of stuff and also a basic schedule for housecleaning and pickup, including the children in the process. It sounds like you may need to just let go sometimes as well. Pouring hours and hours into it can prevent you from being hospitable because you are overworking and stressing yourself out. Your company will not feel relaxed if you are overworked…so let some of those cleaning things go. During this season, I don’t focus on in-depth cleaning but rather just a house basically picked up. That’s it!

      You have shared some good ideas for simplifying in this season. Cut back definitely! Find a basic easy meal that works great and everyone loves…such as pizza! Your guests will be more impacted by your invitation and love over whether or not you serve a gourmet meal. Another idea is to double up a dinner you make earlier on and have that ready to serve from the freezer. This will cut back on your preparations the day of. As much as you can accomplish in advance, the less stress you will have that day.

      It is a more difficult season to be hospitable, but it is definitely important not to throw in the towel completely. Pray together with your husband how you can cut back and still exercise hospitality in a easier more balanced and restful manner.

      God bless!

  5. Lee February 24, 2009 at 3:40 pm #

    Great chapter. I need to read this one again.

  6. Hannah February 24, 2009 at 7:56 am #

    We also do family devotions each evening and bedtime prayers with the kids. I’d like to start praying with them in the morning as well, asking for what we need for the day, etc.

  7. Hannah February 24, 2009 at 7:55 am #

    I loved this chapter. I get overwhelmed thinking about all the things I think I should be doing, and am not. Thinking about this time with little ones as a season in my life, and realizing that I don’t have to do everything now is so freeing. I also realized I’m already practicing a lot of the ideas in this chapter. I try to make favorite foods for birthdays, and we have huge family get-togethers on the kids birthdays (because we have a lot of close family). I keep up to date on family photo albums, and have a slide show of most of the pictures as the screen saver on the computer in the living room – everyone loves to watch it and talk about the pictures. I often play music during dinner, and we’ve started having occasional movie nights. For religious holidays we go to church, then celebrate with extended family, usually with several different events over the course of a week or two. Some things I’d like to do more of, or start doing are writing letters to my family, making sure the dining room is nice and clean for meals, watching how I look for my husband, doing some theme meals – ethnic, picnics, etc., talking about the kids births on their birthdays, planning more family get togethers with friends and making Jesus birthday cookies for Christmas.

  8. Marlo February 24, 2009 at 5:16 am #

    Just from reading this post, I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of this book. I must say it really reminds me of my grandmother Mary, my one Christian influence in my family. She set the table for every meal as though it were for royal company…beautiful dishes, candles, linens etc…this made us (her grandchildren) and ALL who came to visit feel incredibly special. It is one of my fondest memories of her and I have always desired to recreate it with my family.

  9. Ashley Wells February 23, 2009 at 8:50 pm #

    This chapter was full of great practical advice! I talked about it on my blog at

    I am really enjoying this book!! Thanks for hosting the book study!


  10. stacey February 23, 2009 at 3:55 pm #

    I’m loving this series! I haven’t been able to purchase the book yet, but have already learned from your summaries. :)
    I have to say though, I’ve really been missing your menus!! ;)

  11. Manda @ Lambs In His Arms February 23, 2009 at 12:17 pm #

    I don’t have the book, but I am really enjoying reading this series and thinking about how I can put the points into practice. That is certainly a convicting quote – thank you for sharing! How does the book define kindred heritage/traditions?

    • Lindsay February 26, 2009 at 10:01 am #

      Yes, I didn’t have enough time to fully explain those while preparing this post. I will update that above.

  12. Sandra February 23, 2009 at 11:42 am #

    My family celebrates a lot of random holidays. We celebrate Clash Clothes Day, National Pie Day, Pretzel Day, National Cereal Day, and lots more. We try each week to find a holiday or event in history to celebrate. I hope this gives my boys fun memories for years to come!

    The quote from this chapter that impacted me the most was “Remember there are seasons in life.” I often focus on what I’m not able to do because I have a one year old and three year old. I should enjoy this stage more, keeping in mind they won’t be one and three forever!

    • Jessica March 2, 2009 at 8:54 am #

      Those sound like a lot of fun!

  13. Amanda February 23, 2009 at 11:17 am #

    I don’t have much time to comment, but I wanted to say that the same quote you shared really resonated with me, Lindsay. It’s funny that God has been challenging me to change recently in this very area, though I wasn’t looking at it as practicing hospitality towards my family, many of the suggestions she made are things I’ve been actively working on. I hope other ladies share their ideas for holiday traditions. Our oldest is just turning two next month, so we haven’t established a lot of traditions yet, but would like to, especially meaningful ones that go beyond the superficial (santa claus, easter bunny, etc.)

  14. dawn February 23, 2009 at 9:19 am #

    I love reading about Nancy Wilson’s Sabbath Dinners for showing celebration within our families. She has some great encouragement for a special weekly meal.

  15. Christy February 23, 2009 at 6:41 am #

    Hi! I’m a new reader here and absolutely love your blog! I’ve been so encouraged and blessed as I’ve poured over it the past few days. I’ve learned so much. In this post in particular, there is so much to think about. I’m challenged on the points of keeping my home orderly to bless my family, and treating my family as guests. I’d love to see your list of traditions and special things that you come up with. I’ve been thinking of writing mine down as well, I have a 3yr old and a 1 yr old and we’ve been establishing our own family traditions even more in this past year as the oldest is more able to understand and enjoy these special things. I think I’ll write my own list also! Thanks for all you give to this blog, I’m appreciating it!