envelop spinner search close plus arrow-right arrow-left facebook twitter

At the Table With Jesus: Resources on Hospitality

by Mike Farley on September 23, 2022

A meal with Jesus is never just a meal. This fall, our church will discover the transforming truth and power of Jesus revealed through his meals with all kinds of people in the fall sermon series “At the Table with Jesus,” in Sunday school classes on neighboring, and in a Wednesday night EquipU class on welcoming strangers with biblical hospitality. But each of these studies will just scratch the surface of this rich biblical theme and the long history of Christian practice that reveal so much about the grace of God’s hospitality as both a gift and challenge to us. To help you pursue a greater understanding, here are some recommended books to help ground your life in a deeper vision of Jesus’ hospitality toward us. You can examine copies of these books further at the display in the Fellowship Hall.

Chris and Elizabeth McKinney, Placed for a Purpose: A Simple and Sustainable Vision for Loving Your Next-Door Neighbors (GCD Books, 2020).

In an isolated, lonely world where most of us don’t know the neighbors who live and work around us, God calls us to be ambassadors of his hospitality and grace. To help us embrace this calling, Chris and Elizabeth McKinney walk through the story of the Bible to show how God extends radical hospitality to all kinds of people with great needs and how he leads and equips us in Christ to join this mission as his personal means of welcoming and serving people with his love. The McKinneys work for Cru’s City Ministry as associate staff of The Crossing Church (EPC) in Columbia, Missouri, and throughout the book they illustrate what biblical hospitality can look like with numerous examples from  their thriving ministry to their own neighborhood. This book both challenges and motivates us to open our homes and our lives to the people whom God has brought into our lives where we live.

 Peter Leithart, Blessed Are the Hungry (Canon Press, 2000).

This book moves through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation examining texts about food and eating in order to explain the full biblical background of the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. The chapters are short (mostly 4-5 pages) and could be read as a daily devotional. You will probably be surprised at what a prominent and frequent role that eating and drinking play in the biblical story of God with his people. Indeed, Leithart shows that sacred meals with Jesus embody every major theme in the Bible about God, humanity, creation, and salvation. He writes, “The Lord’s Supper is the world in miniature; it has cosmic significance. Within it we find clues to the meaning of all creation and all history, to the nature of God and the nature of man, to the mystery of the world, which is Christ. It is not confined to the first day, for its power fills seven. Though the table stands at the center, its effects stretch out to the four corners of the earth.”

Scott Sauls, Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear (Tyndale, 2016).

Real friendship often seems too difficult and risky to pursue. As pastor Scott Sauls writes, “We live in a world where real friendship is hard to find. Suspicious of others and insecure about ourselves, it can be easy to retreat to the safety of our small, self-made digital worlds. Jesus models and makes possible a much richer vision of friendship.” Sauls invites us to consider how to befriend different kinds of people we might find hard to know or love, and he shows how the pursuit of friendship with people can become a bridge to beautiful new healing, hope, and purpose in our lives. You can also watch a video series based on this book from RightNow Media here. (Click here to set up your free profile in RightNow Media and gain access to this library of video resources.)

 Christine Pohl, Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition (Eerdmans, 1999).

While we often think of hospitality as entertaining friends, Christine Pohl explains that biblical hospitality is the much broader practice of welcoming and serving others in need, including strangers as well as friends. This book walks through Scripture and church history to show how hospitality was central to the mission and influence of the early church and how this practice gradually changed and almost disappeared in the life of the church in the modern world. Drawing upon experiences in intentional Christian communities like L’Abri Fellowship that are keeping alive more radical traditions of hospitality, Pohl offers wise lessons and principles for churches and Christians seeking to recover a more personal and holistic approach to caring for neighbors in need.

Return to Our Blog