There is a certain atmosphere that goes into creating a home that becomes your place of ministry.
I’m a housewife. A homemaker. A stay-at-home mom. A domestic engineer, if you want to get fancy. Regardless of my title, my home is currently my primary sphere of influence, and any ministry I have flows out of that. So I’m always interested in books that inspire and inform my attempts at making my house a missional home: a place where people are welcomed and the love of Jesus is lavishly shared. That certainly makes for a comforting atmosphere!
I grew up in a home where hospitality was practiced often and well, but I’ve still had to be intentional about how it plays out in my own home. And I’m learning to adjust my methods and expectations to accommodate different seasons of life because I’m not willing to wait until my children are older to reach out to the people around me.
There are many components to a missional home, from the actual housework and cooking to the attitude you have towards others, to the way you connect with your neighbors. It’s all part of one atmosphere you create. The following books all touch on different aspects of making your home a place of ministry, and all have challenged and encouraged me.
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Seven Books to Cultivate an Atmosphere of Hospitality
A Life That Says Welcome by Karen Ehman
The subtitle sums it up well: “simple ways to open your heart and home to others.” This practical, conversational book was written several years ago, but it’s full of encouragement with a “you can do it!” attitude. Along with discussion of the Biblical reasons for hospitality, there are sections on everything from decluttering to cooking, making it a very accessible resource. A Life That Says Welcome also discusses the wealth of simple recipes and creative ways to practice hospitality when you literally don’t have room.
Reach Out, Gather In by Karen Ehman
This unique book is a 40-day self-contained study in hospitality, including everything from inspiration to personal testimony to recipes. It invites you to dig deep into your own heart to understand not only how, but why we are called to be hospitable. I appreciated the questions and journaling sections, and the chapters on practicing hospitality outside your own home are especially applicable in the current context. Best of all, Reach Out, Gather In is full of Scripture, showing us how to live out the commands of the Bible.
Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life by Margaret Kim Peterson
If C.S. Lewis had written a book about housework, I think it would be similar to this one. Instead of cleaning tips, it contains thought-provoking ideas about the theology and philosophy of housekeeping. The author presents everyday chores as meaningful work that–despite its repetitive nature–can be offered like prayer to God as a foundational part of society. Keeping House encouraged me to see daily tasks like laundry and cooking as redemptive work, bringing order out of chaos and ministering to the bodies and souls of others.
I would put this beautiful book in the “inspirational” category. With its lovely layout, color photos, and delicious recipes, it’s coffee-table-worthy–but it’s also a great place to start gathering ideas for how to reach out from your own home. Something as simple as a picnic table in your front yard can be the organic start of genuine community. The Turquoise Table asserts that hospitality doesn’t always need to take place inside your home. I loved the “outside the box” thinking and the low-key way of connecting with the people around you.
If you had the choice, would you serve Jesus a meal, cooking and preparing it, then serving it with loving hands, only to retreat to another room while He ate? Or would you prefer to actually eat that meal with Him, sharing the experience and enjoying conversation? Eating brings us together at a very foundational level, and A Meal With Jesus explores the unique ministry opportunities we have by simply sharing meals. I appreciated seeing how a necessary rhythm of life can be a beautiful way to create an atmosphere to share Jesus’ love.
The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon
A blueprint for “building genuine relationships right outside your door,” this book will leave you with no excuses. And yet it’s not guilt-inducing, but rather a hopeful book. I love the clear Biblical case for loving our literal neighbors, as well as the simple format for putting it into practice. There’s also a helpful chapter on wise boundary-setting. A study guide at the back makes The Art of Neighboring an ideal book to use in a small-group setting.
Next Door As It Is In Heaven by Lance Ford and Brad Brisco
This is probably my personal favorite on the list. The subtitle perfectly describes what I want to do–“Living Out God’s Kingdom in your neighborhood”–and the book does a great job of showing how that might look. Ford and Briscoe explain why we tend to be disconnected from our neighbors and how to combat that. They also discuss how to build community and the blessings that come from having real relationships with the people who live next door or down the street. Next Door As It Is In Heaven is the kind of book you finish and say, “Okay, who can I have over for dinner tonight?”
These books have helped shape the practical side of my faith as I strive to live out the Great Commission right where I am: reaching my neighbors and friends from the context of my home by offering a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
In His grace,
Here at Club31Women, we recognize that not everyone has the same taste or point of view on books, music, or movies, but we offer these short reviews for your consideration. Our hope is that you will find something new and wonderful on this list of recommended resources!
~ Lisa Jacobson, Club31Women