(Note: This post was sponsored by (in)courage. All opinions are my own. Read our disclosure policy here.)
In fact, I told myself for a long time that I’m an introverted person who is a homebody and who doesn’t host things or initiate. And by telling myself this, I had convinced myself that hosting and initiating weren’t my gifts or my personality.
It was safer to wait to let other people do the inviting. It was safer to convince myself I wasn’t the type to step out, step up, initiate, or lead.
But all that changed when I read Just Open the Door by Jen Schmidt. It’s a book written specifically for people like me who feel so awkward about the whole hospitality thing.
If you feel like you aren’t a good cook or you think your house isn’t nice enough or you don’t feel like you’re organized enough or you think you don’t have room to host people or a dozen other excuses… and yet you are also craving deep community and authentic relationships, this book is for you.
Just Open the Door will show you that no matter the size of your home or your budget and no matter your current season of life, there is a way to show hospitality. And, you’ll learn just how big of an impact opening your home and door and life can have — not just in other’s lives, not just in your kids’ lives, but in your own heart and life.
That has definitely been true for me! Let me tell you a little about it…
The Big Commitment I Made in 2018
After reading a pre-release copy of Just Open the Door in December of 2017, I felt stirred to step way outside my comfort zone and commit to opening up our home every single week in 2018.
I had no idea how that was going to transform my life!
Just for fun, I counted up and, since January 1, we have hosted at least 135 people in our home and have opened up our home at least 22 different times! All of that in three months — and we moved during that time period, too!
(And that doesn’t count the many lunches and coffees and dinners we’ve initiated or said yes to or initiated with new friends that didn’t happen at our house!)
Some of these were people we knew well. Some we had never met before. But in every case, I didn’t regret opening up our door and saying, “Come as you are.”
I’ve fostered many new and beautiful relationships. I’ve deepened old relationships. I’ve learned a lot of new hospitality tips and tricks… and had some funny and memorable fails.
Hospitality Can Look Like Many Different Things
I’m learning that when I start looking for opportunities to exercise hospitality, I begin to see them all around me.
So far, it’s looked like:
- Having my mom and sister stay with us while Jesse was in Peru
- Taking my daughter and her friend out window shopping
- Inviting a number of different friends to coffee and/or lunch while our kids are at school
- Having a friend over for tea
- Planning a sleepover for my daughter and some of her closest friends
- Inviting my blog readers and Instagram followers (most that I had never met!) to come over for a ladies’ get-together
- Ordering pizza and asking friends to come over and join us
- Letting my kids invite their friends over for a playdate
- Inviting friends we’ve known for awhile over for dinner
- Offering to babysit for friends so they can have a date
- Coordinating a dinner out with new friends
- Asking new friends over for dinner
- Inviting my Discipleship Small Group to come over after dinner
- Hosting our Community Group
- Volunteering to open our home to host a get-together someone was planning
- Hosting a birthday party
- Inviting friends with kids the same ages as my kids over to play for the afternoon
For you, it might look completely different. But no matter your stage or circumstance or season of life, there is a way that you can reach out and open your door — even if it’s just opening up the door of your heart by inviting friends to have a picnic at the park or inviting a friend to join you for a walk (see more of my ideas for Hospitality on a Budget here).
You Don’t Have to Be a Great Cook to Be Hospitable!
I’ve discovered that I don’t have to be a great cook or decorator or party planner to be great at welcoming people into our home. Some nights, I didn’t have time to offer much more than takeout pizza or a simple crockpot meal. But we still had a great evening!
As I’m learning, hospitality isn’t about the food you serve or the home you have or the table decor or the seating arrangement, it’s about opening the door and welcoming people into your real, imperfect life.
It’s about letting people know that they are seen, heard, cared for, and loved. It’s about just opening your door!
I’m learning that it begins with a simple willingness to say yes and go first. To be the one to get brave and say, “Hey, I don’t know you very well, but would you like to grab coffee with me?”
OR, “I know you don’t know me that well, but you just moved here and don’t have a lot of support. Can I babysit your kids so you could have a date night with your husband?”
OR, “My daughter is loving getting to know your daughter at school. Could I pick her up to come over to our house for the afternoon after school?”
Be Willing to Go First & Be the Initiator
The more that I open up my door, the more that I want to open it up. And the more I’m realizing how much THIS is where real relationships and community develops.
You have to experience the awkward in friendship in order to experience the awesome in friendship.
You have to be willing to take risks. To not wait for an invite, but to be the initiator. To be okay if someone says no or a relationship doesn’t turn out like you hoped.
Those seeds of friendship, when watered and nurtured and fostered and tended to, will grow into a least some strong relationships and friendships. It’s so worth the effort!
Stop Feeling Awkward About Hospitality
Because of how much Just Open The Door has changed my life and changed me as a person, so many of you have asked me how you can get your hands on this book. I am thrilled to let you know that it is finally available to order!
This book is SO encouraging for those fearful of hospitality and hosting. It shows you how hospitality is so much more than a physical space and starts with simply opening up your heart to let people in.
It gives you practical ways to open up your door and show hospitality — even when you feel like your home is too small or you can’t afford to prepare a fancy four-course meal.
Here’s more about the book from the description:
For many of us, inviting people into our lives and homes feels more like inviting judgment on our entertaining skills and stress on our already maxed-out schedules. But what if you knew that opening your front door had the power to radically change the world? To make an impact and leave a legacy with everyday invitations?
Jen Schmidt has set out to reframe how we think about hospitality and to equip us to walk a road of welcome in our daily lives. Jen knows that every time we choose open-door living—whether in our homes or by taking hospitality on the road just like Jesus—those we invite in get to experience the lived-out Gospel, our kids grow up in a life-lab of generosity, and we trade insecurity for connection.
Just Open the Door is a personal yes-you-can guide to offering the life-changing gift of invitation. Whether you’re a seasoned host looking for renewed inspiration or a nervous newbie not sure where to begin, these personal stories, practical ideas, and poignant insights will give you the confidence you need to see your home as the most likely location for changing the world around you, one open door at a time.
So if you’ve been wanting to open your home (and heart) to others more, but you’ve held back out of fear, I can’t recommend this book enough!