When you read the title to this post, are you automatically thinking of places like a homeless shelter / food kitchen or a food pantry? Good things and obviously related to food as ministry. But the focus of this post is going to be about hospitality and fellowship as a tool for ministry. And the idea that Jesus saw fellowship (i.e. “breaking bread” together) as essential, not just a side benefit.
A couple years ago a good friend and mentor suggested that perhaps my love of hospitality could be a ministry in and of itself. I’ve always had a hard time fitting myself into normal church ministries like “children’s ministry” or “women’s ministry” and finding a perfect fit. But equally so, I’ve always loved having people over to our home and serving a good meal. Thankfully, I also have a husband that enjoys this as well (possibly because he’s a homebody and prefers to be at home more than anywhere else – this we do not have in common!). It was pretty difficult for us when we lived in someone else’s home and didn’t have that opportunity. So we were very excited to move into our home and begin to have people over!
But I think so many of us have a hard time seeing things like having people over for dinner as a “ministry”. If it’s not church-sponsored, then it’s not really a “ministry”, right? Unfortunately, that’s a very short-sighted view of ministry, but that’s something I had to overcome myself. I’m so grateful for friends and mentors that have opened my eyes to this reality.
Jesus understood the importance of food and fellowship in our lives. At a recent staff meeting where I work (
), David Huskey presented a devotion about just this topic. (Dave and his wife, Jill, are serious about food as ministry. They regularly cook for Northeast Iowa Bible Camp as well as New Way Singers and CIY groups that are held on NCC’s campus. And they are diligent about opening their home for food and fellowship.) Dave pointed out the many times in scripture – the Gospels specifically (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) – where it’s mentioned that Jesus broke bread with people, went to someone’s home for a meal, or even performed a miracle with food (or wine!). The feeding of the 5,000 with a few loaves of bread and some fish is a famous example. As is the story of Zacheus, a vertically-challenged and hated tax collector, whom Jesus picked out in a crowd and then proceeded to invite himself to Zacheus’s home for a meal. The Last Supper is a well-known story of Jesus breaking bread with his disciples right before his death. But the Bible is filled with even more such accounts of Jesus fellowshipping and breaking bread. Nebraska Christian College
So in this age of watching our budget and thus limiting our eating out, I’m pursuing this ministry of hospitality even more by inviting people into our home. I still remember conversing with one of Jake’s co-workers at StoneBridge Christian Church when he first started there and having them recount to us how privileged they would feel when someone would invite them to their home. It speaks something to people to be invited into one’s home. So if you offer to go out to eat with us and we turn that offer into an invitation to come over to our house instead, you’ll take us up on it, right?! Having the opportunity of opening our home as a hospitality ministry to you is our pleasure & privilege!