Should a Pastor invite parishioners into their home?

“Should a Pastor invite parishioners over to their home?”

I was asked that question while on a women’s ministry panel last week.

My 30 second response time brought out the quick answer of “Absolutely!”

Which in hindsight was possibly very discouraging to the one who texted in that question to the panel.

My quick answer possibly annihilated and set that precious heart even more on edge with a sense of obligation and dread in having to open their home.  And in that way, my heart hurts for them.

If I could roll back the clock and answer that question again my answer would be softer, kinder and more grace filled.

If I could sit down with that sweet friend over a cup of coffee I would listen better and hear her story.

I understand not everyone is ready to open up their home and let others in. I get that.

Our homes are a real and vulnerable part of us. It’s where we’re real. It’s where we throw our socks down and keep our dirty dishes on the counter. This is where others see the “me, we and us” of our family. It can be scary and intimidating to open up one’s home and invite others in.

My hubby and I have lived with our home doors pretty open. This hasn’t come without judgement, criticism and even sometimes unkind words thrown in our direction. So I understand where fear of opening up can be scary. On the flip side, we have many wonderful experiences of friendship, laughter and deep relationship building because we opened our doors to others.

Here’s what I’ve learned through the school of practicing hospitality.

  • The house doesn’t have to be perfect– Two things happen when we strive for this standard.
    1. We stress ourselves and our family out in trying to achieve that standard.
    2. We stress our guests out when they feel the tension in the air from our own family stress.  Your guests will feel more at ease when you and your family are at ease and comfortable in your own space.
  • Serve a family favorite for food. – This I have learned the hard way. I’ve tried new recipes out on guests and they’ve flopped. I’ve tried to impress and it just doesn’t work well for me. So instead, I stick with the tried and true. I prepare food my family loves and stuff I’ve made a hundred times. I’m comfortable in making it and I know it will get eaten!
  • Nothing opens up the door of conversation better than opening your home –  Our homes invite others to see what is important to us. It’s the framed pictures on the wall that hold stories of those we love. It’s sitting around a common table and passing food as we all serve each other. It’s letting others see us where were comfortable.
  • “Be inventive in hospitality” Romans 12:13 (The MSG). The word “hospitality” means making friends and family out of strangers. This can come in all sorts of way. Barbecuing in the backyard, sipping lemonade on the porch, guests bringing their own dish to share in your kitchen or even ordering a pizza and hanging out in the family room. Remember it’s not about perfection, it’s living real in our homes. 

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If the only time our people in our congregations see us is on Sunday mornings they get a false impression of how we live. They see us only in our dressed up Sunday smiles and our handshake/hug greetings.  Opening our homes invites others to see us in our homes, they see a bit of our real and how we live.

Dave and I believe we are called to journey with others through life. We live through job losses and transitions, weddings and divorce, baby beginnings and saying good-bye to loved ones. It’s a journey of life together.  Yet it’s hard to journey with others if we only travel together on Sunday mornings.

We can preach how to live on Sunday mornings but when we invite them into our homes, we’re showing how to live Jesus real in our everyday lives.

My home is where I live real with my kids… live real with my spouse and live real with my socks on the floor and my feet on the coffee table.

This is how our lives show Jesus real in our everyday world.

Opening our homes to others is about sharing time with them in the living room of our lives. Our feet rest casually on the coffee table and we talk together through the stories of our every day without interruption from a waitress or the noise of the restaurant. We simply enjoy the company of the ones we are with and share together our lives.

As Pastors are we required to have parishioners in our home? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Do I think it’s a great way of inviting others in and living real with those we journey alongside? ABSOLUTELY!

We’re not called to live in a perfect house or be a perfect hostess. Instead we invite others to live real with us as we journey life together.

Jump into the conversation:

  • How do you feel about having people into your home?
  • What scares you the most about inviting others in?
  • What has helped you in inviting others over?

I would love to hear from you!  Jump in the comments below.

(Linking up with #RaRaLinkup and #InspireMeMonday)

19 thoughts on “Should a Pastor invite parishioners into their home?

  1. I was at that panel discussion. I had two major thoughts at the time:
    1. If you open your home to some, you must give the same opportunity to all so as not to seem to show favoritism. I hosted an open house every year on the Sunday afternoon between Christmas and New Year’s. People were free to come or not and to stay as long as they felt comfortable. We hosted annual church board dinners in the parsonage too. I conducted women’s Bible studies in my home. We were often invited to the homes of our church families for meals or to restaurants to fellowship. And we had frequent fellowship with refreshments after services. We developed as close a relationship with people as they would allow.
    2. My husband and I did not allow people to just drop in. They needed to call first to see if it was a good time or to set up an appointment. I grew up in a missionary family in Alaska. Since the churches my parents pastored usually had no office with office hours, they allowed people to drop by whenever they had a problem. They often sat at the dining room table to visit. My bedroom was just off the living room and we had to pass through both the living room and dining room to get to the bathroom. As a teenager, I often felt uncomfortable when people came early in the day when we were not dressed yet. Family time needs to be kept sacred too.We were accessible to everyone without sacrificing our need for privacy too.
    Thank you, Rachel, for opening this topic up for further discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I would agree with you, AnnaLee on all those counts. Even though we open our home and invite others, it’s on our condition. It’s very rare to have drop-in’s and we are very careful to guard our family time. I also agree that it is very difficult to have the office in the home and meet with people. That is very difficult and we rarely do that because we have children and teens in the home that have ears to hear and we are very protective of our parishioners to be able to share openly and also to protect our children that their home is their home…. their space. So we are very careful to protect our time with our children. There is a balance to it all and that’s why I think it’s important to have this kind of discussion. Thanks for jumping in, AnnaLee! 🙂

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  2. As a pastor, I wish I could be more positive about having people over from our church, but I can’t. I am all for going out. I am all for going to other people’s houses. But due to recent trauma (not just drama), my guard is up big-time. Doing ministry has brought a lot of pain into my family, and right now I need a safe place; enough with total transparency.

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    • My heart goes out to you, dear friend! It saddens my heart that so many of my pastor friends have been hurt by others in their own homes. In these kinds of situations I hear your pain and I am sorry. In our ministry life we have also had times where our house is quiet and our home is kept safe just for the family…. a place of refuge. That is why I wish I could have talked with that lady in the workshop because I’m thinking there was a story behind that question and I didn’t want to dismiss her pain and make her feel she was “less than” if she wasn’t ready to open up her home and heart to others. My heart goes out to those who have been hurt in such a intimate place as their home. I agree with you there are times and places that restaurants are the safe place and your family needs the shelter of your home. I pray for a sweet healing for your heart and for your beautiful family. I pray you find sweet solace and healing through this hard and tough season. Big hugs to your wife and girls! Thank you for jumping in and sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was reading this post last night Rachel when I realised my feet were up on the coffee table! I guess you could describe our home as ‘lived in.’ As a preacher’s kid I don’t ever remember my parents opening their home to ‘parishioners’ but Dad did a lot of visiting of people in their homes. Our last pastor did not invite anyone in. I got past the front door once (and I am church secretary (deacon role not a paid administrator in the UK) and then only at a time of crisis.

    We have made it a goal recently to invite people from church for a Saturday evening meal once a month (and have learned the lesson of serving a family favourite) but we are wondering if we could do the same for neighbours.

    So in summary … we love having people in our home (but worry about the lived in feel at times). We are scared at the thought of offering the same hospitality to neighbours (but we should). I am not sure what has helped us other than the thought of trying to be better at being New Testament Christians, but we are encouraged by being able to get to know people better. There have been one or two late Saturday nights though!

    I think the biggest challenge of this post is your second question. We need to get on and do the bit that scares us. Invite the neighbours.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, David, for jumping into the conversation. I think it’s great you are inviting people in. I encourage you to take the plunge and invite a neighbor. I bet they would enjoy your company and it’s always great to have a friend in the neighborhood! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love everything you have to say about hospitality and its role in building community! I can imagine the pressure of trying to show love to the whole church puts the pressure on a pastoral family. Like a politician, they have to be careful about showing favoritism. I remember the days when my parents invited our pastor over regularly for Sunday lunch. It was our way of caring for him and his family.Now with multiple services and multi-site churches, fellowshiping with a pastor over a meal is almost like have lunch with a celebrity. #RaRaLinkup

    Liked by 1 person

    • That last line of your comment made me chuckle! 🙂 I hope we don’t get to the place in our lives where we are too big for the simple life! LOL 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and jumping in!

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    • Yes, that’s what we have found…. Boundaries are necessary and there are many different ways to do this hospitality thing. This is just one way! Thanks for jumping in and sharing!

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  5. Timely post from you, Rachel. The Lord has been teaching me much about hospitality. It has been just this year that I have taken time to look up the definition of hospitality and learned it is “making friends and family out of strangers”.

    How do you feel about having people into your home? I love having people in our home. I think the more the merrier! But my husband does not feel the same. He feels our home is his sanctuary and guards it with a tight grip. So we have to find a healthy balance.

    What scares you the most about inviting others in? What they will say about us when they leave…that they would not say to our face.

    What has helped you in inviting others over? A desire to be obedient to the Lord. I studied Hebrews and was stunned to attention by this verse. (Hebrews 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.) I asked Father to give me the gift of hospitality right then and there. Thus, the beginning of my time in training…it’s not a gift…it’s a responsibility.

    Thank you for blessing my heart…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Principals on boarding school campuses are a lot like pastors ;). We have kids and parents and former students dropping by all the time (like last Sunday, when my daughter and I were doing pushups along with Shaun T’s workout video–embarrassing, but I hopped up and gave the two graduates a sweaty, stinky hug). I give my students my phone number and some guidelines–don’t call or text before 5 or after 9 unless your life is in danger. They have always honored this. It’s a decision that needs a conversation and guidelines and boundaries between the family members.

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    • Yes, I would agree. When boundaries are agreed and set on people for the most part honor those limits and the impacts we have on others and the lives is a good thing!
      Thanks for jumping in and sharing!

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  7. Pingback: When It’s Time To Be Brave | Tripping Over Typeset

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