Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition

making-room.jpgI highly recommend Making Room: Recovering Hospitality As a Christian Tradition by Christine D. Pohl, Author.  At the GCA conference, Martin Ban recommended this book and I see why.  Simply, this is another must read.  A few points:

  • Christians should regard hospitality to strangers as an expression of the gospel.
  • History reveals the importance of hospitality to the spread and credibility of the gospel.
  • As Christians, identifying our self as strangers and sojourners is part of what it means to be the people of God.
  • The New Testament portray Jesus as a gracious host, welcoming children and prostitutes, tax collectors and sinners in his presence.

Description: Although hospitality was central to Christian identity and practice in earlier centuries, our generation knows little about its life-giving character. Making Room revisits the Christian foundations of welcoming strangers and explores the necessity, difficulty, and blessing of hospitality today. Christine Pohl traces the eclipse of this significant Christian practice, showing the initial centrality of hospitality and the importance of recovering it for contemporary life. Combining rich biblical and historical research with extensive exposure to modern service communities–The Catholic Worker, L'Abri, L'Arche, and others–this book shows how understanding the key features of hospitality can better equip us to faithfully carry out the practical call of the gospel.

Making Room discusses Old Testament stories of Abraham welcoming angels, Jesus’ commandment to love those unable to reciprocate and the early church’s emphasis on sharing meals with the poor. More than a product or a service, hospitality may be a transformative spiritual practice. We are particularly encouraged to share ourselves with those not like ourselves—without requiring that they become like us to receive our attention and care. 

Here is an example of the cost of community/hospitality from Francis Schaeffer:

"Don't start with a big program. Don't suddenly think you can add to your church budget and begin. Start personally and start in your home. I dare you. I dare you in the name of Jesus Christ. Do what I am going to suggest. Begin by opening your home for community…

How many times in the past year have you risked having a drunk vomit on your carpeted floor? How in the world, then, can you talk about compassion and about community – about the church's job in the inner city?

L'Abri is costly. If you think what God has done here is easy, you don't understand. It's a costly business to have a sense of community. L'Abri cannot be explained merely by the clear doctrine that is preached; it cannot be explained by the fact that God has here been giving intellectual answers to intellectual questions. I think those two things are important, but L'Abri cannot be explained if you remove the third. And that is there has been some community here. And it has been costly.

In about the first three years of L'Abri all our wedding presents were wiped out. Our sheets were torn. Holes were burned in our rugs. Indeed once a whole curtain almost burned up from somebody smoking in our living room. Blacks came to our table. Orientals came to our table. Everybody came to our table. It couldn't happen any other way. Drugs came to our place. People vomited in our rooms, in the rooms of Chalet Les Melezes which was our home, and now in the rest of the chalets of L'Abri.

How many times has this happened to you? You see, you don't need a big program. You don't have to convince your session or board. All you have to do is open your home and begin. And there is no place in God's world where there are no people who will come and share a home as long as it is a real home." 

  • Steve McCoy

    August 13, 2007, 7:21 pm

    Awesome stuff. I’ve read through a little of the book before. I’ll pick it back up. Thanks Drew.

  • Sam DeSocio

    August 14, 2007, 5:59 am

    Ill have to check this book out at some point.

    That Schaeffer quote is tough.
    Iain Duguid said something very similar, about his experience in England, with church planting, he said things where tough and they were not appreciated.

    Thanks man.

  • paul del signore

    August 14, 2007, 6:19 pm

    man, I love Schaeffer. He just nails it every time.

    I admit that I prefer my home of residence to be more monastic than missional, and a safe haven from the world. I need to work at this sort of thing… of course I’d have to convince my wife as well.


  • Jacob Vanhorn

    August 14, 2007, 10:32 pm

    Thanks for the heads up. I just ordered it from Amazon. My wife and I have discussed buying 5+ bedroom house and inviting some folks to live with us for a season. But we can’t get away from the fact that we still want to carve out a space in the house to get away for a bit.

  • Annalisa

    August 14, 2007, 11:11 pm

    That is a really great passage. Thanks for sharing. Have you read about the Simple Way community in Philly? They, among others, are a good embodiement of that kind of hospitality.


  • D. Goodmanson

    August 15, 2007, 2:07 am


    We have some people from Philly, I’ll ask if they know of it, but I haven’t heard of it.

  • Mark Moore

    August 16, 2007, 8:45 am

    Excellent post and a huge issue. If you are interested, the Spring 2005 Francis Schaeffer Lectures at Covenant were on the topic of hospitality. There are four lectures and the final two are by Christine Pohl.

  • Eug

    August 16, 2007, 1:12 pm

    I’ve just been thinking about this, why care for the urban poor (particularly among Reformed denoms) has become such a secondary mission to most churches.
    I’ve come to 2 conclusions:
    1.) Lack of proximity – as more and more churches seek distance from pain and suffering this distorts the gospel.
    2.) Perhaps Church aesthetics/architecture? – It’d be harder to get upchuck out of brand new pew cushions and plush carpet than linoleum tile.
    3.) Ease of Compartmentalization – we can so easily partition it off to a Sunday service opportunity or a short term missions trip. We’ve made it so clean its something you can dip into without invading your life. What would it mean to love people so much that in the process of their betterment we (or our wives or children) caught their disease and died. I’ve always been challenged by the radical hospitality of Christians during the plague in Carthage, but this story of wedding gifts being trashed brings it literally home. These are hard words I need to hear, I know for a fact I don’t have this in me currently.

  • Eug

    August 16, 2007, 1:16 pm

    oops, 2 conclusions and 1 “maybe” in the middle that is – I think I’m just being critical of a certain new Megachurch in town running a current multi-million dollar campaign to buy expensive seats for their new auditorium called “A Seat to get SAVED in”. This church makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

  • Beatrice Sherman

    March 16, 2009, 6:28 pm

    I enjoyed, immensely an overview of “Making Room..” it was a flashback of 12 years building community in a dis-enfranchised community. I did not realize what a toll, physically, it was.I had to take a few months break to rest. Your overview rejuvenated me so much.

  • Eli

    January 22, 2010, 8:39 pm

    As a child I saw this lived out by my mom and truthfully it was invading, but now that I am older I have heard so many stories of lived that were touched. I can see how it plays an important role of walking the talk.