I raced around my house like it was the final lap of the Indy 500.
“Kids, I want the counters spotless. Grab that laundry from the sofa. Stuff all clothes in your closet.” My outside voice bellowed up the stairs. “You better get off your phones right now. Seriously, I need your help this instant or…”
Sweat dripped down my shirt and while some would kindly remark I glowed or glistened, I knew the difference. I was a hot mess. The clock counted down… fifty-nine minutes, fifty-eight, fifty-seven….
Company was coming. Panic mode permeated and my poor kids got the brunt of my upheaval. (Because heaven forbid, we actually let it appear like children lived in our home. Insert sarcasm.)
In that moment, I needed a heart check. I’d allowed culture’s idealized concept of social entertaining to hijack the heart of true hospitality. I dressed up my desire to pursue community and made it something that was never intended. After talking with hundreds of women about hospitality, I know I’m not alone.
Making the choice to go first and extend an invitation can be a deeply personal and vulnerable act.
Yet when we over-stress, over-plan, and over-think inviting others into our lives and homes, the thought of opening our door to anyone becomes overwhelming to our souls. We become slaves to the expectations of others and we freeze at the mere thought of extending that invite. So rather than fear rejection or judgement, we wait and hope someone else will reach out to us.
If we’re honest, it’s scary to put ourselves out there and welcome someone into the places where we’re most vulnerable — our home, our hearts, our story.
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? What if you believed that the greatest launching pad for intentional Kingdom work has already been placed right before you, and you don’t have to change anything before you start? You can begin with whatever the Lord has given you — with your unique personality, your calling, your nervous apprehension, and your heart to finally take this baby step.
Biblical hospitality has the power to do this: to change lives, to shift the culture, to impact a generation. But most importantly, hospitality offers us a simple, yet radical, life giving vehicle to welcome others and point them to the fullness of life in Christ.
I know that He has called, equipped, and appointed you to do amazing things right where you are if you choose to just open the door.
I’m so passionate about reframing this picture of hospitality and discovering how God uses simple steps of faithfulness to ignite life change that I’ve spent the last year writing a whole book (and Bible study) on the topic.
Just Open the Door: How One Invitation Can Change a Generation is your personal yes-you-can guide to offering the life-changing gift of invitation.
This book isn’t just for those who are good at meal plans or pretty tablescapes; it’s for every woman who has ever desired more community in her life, whose heart aches for connection, and who isn’t sure where to start. It’s for introverts and extroverts, for those who love parties as well as those who dread them.
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 me. It’s never perfect, but then neither am I.
I know I’m issuing a bold declaration with strong phrases like “change lives” and “impact generations,” but I don’t offer it lightly. This is not an “over promise and under deliver” kind of marketing ploy. This is a living, breathing, God-ordained path to walk out the abundance of the Gospel in our everyday lives through simple acts of hospitality.
I genuinely believe that lives will be changed with something as simple as an invitation.
I want you able to look back in one year, five years—twenty-five years!—and glimpse the legacy of hospitality you’ve offered. The doors you’ve opened, the chairs you’ve pulled up to assure everyone has a seat, the tables extended so that anyone, from anywhere, knows they’re welcome at your table. I’m already getting excited because I know what awaits.
Just open the door.
Just Open the Door: How One Invitation Can Change a Generation
is now available wherever books are sold!
Michele Morin says
Jennifer, I’m so excited for you, and also thankful for your voice, cheering us as on as we open our doors and share our lives.
Jennifer Schmidt says
Thank you, Michelle!! I so appreciate your ever constant encouragement.:)
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
First I want to know, on the cover of your book, where are the dust bunnies, Barbie doll clothes, and Lego’s? Just kidding…. When I used to madly vroom around the house with the vacuum cleaner, my kids instinctively asked, “Who’s coming to visit?” I am looking forward to reading the free chapter of your book and congrats’ again!! Thank you for writing a book about “hospitality” and not about “entertaining.” The art of hospitality focuses on who is coming through the door, not who is standing, opening the door. Learning to relax about having people in my home has been a blessing. I still get stressed, but not nearly to the point I used to. I also find that spontaneous get together’s are better than one’s far out on the calendar. Looking forward to reading…
Jennifer Schmidt says
Oh trust me, they’re there. They might not be on the table, but do you see the clothes and towels hanging over the railing? Yep, I dusted just for you, but couldn’t quite get the all the laundry taken care of. 😉
I feel God’s hands on my heart when I offer my home to others. We moved to a new community 5 years ago – and making connections was tough. So we threw a Christmas party last year to build the Koninia (sp?). 200 neighbors at my house celebrating JC was a community builder like I’ve never experienced. Wonderfully blessed that I followed His prompting on that. Bank account not so happy tho. Ha!!
Jennifer Schmidt says
Love hearing that, Jessica. Well about you initiating and pursuing community, not the bank account. Sounds like an amazing evening.
IT would have been so easy for you to sit back and wait for others to invite, but you did the hard first step and wow, 200 people? Hopefully, you had people bring something to share, but I’m guessing not due to the bank account comment. 😉
Honored is how I feel when I think about hospitality. It is a blessing to have a home, and table to share with others. Thank-you Jenn for sharing your lovely book and for the gentle nudge.
Blessings to all,
Jennifer Schmidt says
It truly is an honor, isn’t it? We invite and welcome, just like He does for us. xoxox
Joey Rudder says
This is wonderful! Thank you, Jennifer. I believe God is calling me to open my door which is what I did for the first time last week. (I also think I was going for the “no child or husband lives here” sort of appearance. More sarcasm. 😉 ) I’m praying about direction and guidance for our get-togethers, that they will be pleasing and glorifying to God along with silly smiles, heartfelt prayers, and the very solid Word of God carrying us through until we meet again. I’m SO looking forward to reading your book!! Thanks for the free chapter this morning. 🙂 God bless!
Jennifer Schmidt says
Oh Joey – I can’t wait to journey this with you!! I’m so excited just thinking about the next chapter you’ll be able to write on your own story. And yes, this book will offer lots of direction too (especially for the no child or husband look ;))
Joey Rudder says
Valerie Bruce says
When i think of hospitality my doors are open anytime anyone needs me for anything. No matter the condition of my house. Just as the door is open for anyone in my heart.
Cassady Schulte says
When I think about hospitality, I feel excited and hopeful. Growing up, my family didn’t really do hospitality, but in the last few years the Lord has brought several individuals and families into my life that have modeled radical hospitality and the joyful, life-changing effect it can have on people. It has changed my life, too, and I am so excited about this book!
Boy I know exactly what you are talking about here. I must admit that I can clean up faster in that 10 minutes before a guest arrives than in any other time. And yes I believe in having the kids help me and acting like a total lunatic person to them. We want our house to be mess free as if we don’t live there and pretend to others that we have such a perfect clean house at all times. We forget that God loves us even among our own mess in our heart. So let us encourage one another as woman and understand that when we visit others, no matter what mess they have going on in their house, we continue to love on them!! Thanks for sharing.
Kristin Davila says
When I think about inviting others into my home, I want to, but I’m terrified! I really need this book because I get overwhelmed and stressed and then the whole family is stressed When I was growing up, my parents rarely had people over and so I need to know what it looks like
I am beyond excited about your book. I have been working on hospitality in my life. In my home I have been cleaning out along with my heart to declutter. If it’s not a nessicity or something that makes me happy it’s out. Less clutter in the house and heart makes more room for God. I just need to working on the inviting part, says the introvert in me.
Outside the home is easier. I’m learning it doesn’t have to be a whole meal or a whole anything. A little something can go a long way. It’s the small and simple that can bring a smile. I pray and (try) to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit to make me aware of others needs. There are a lot of lonely people out there that need Jesus or a little help. The greatest blessings I have received have been when I do for others when prompted by the Holy Spirit.
Can’t wait for the book and I ordered one for a friend who just bought a new house.
When I think about hospitality I feel so excited and I get that surging, heart-growing, compassionate feeling in my chest that I know is the Holy Spirit. For a few years now, the Lord has placed a calling on my heart to…well, I’m not sure that I have the word(s) for it, but I suppose that to say that the Lord has placed a call to hospitality on my heart is pretty accurate. I’ve been seeking for a while now ways to accept people better and to show them the love of Christ. I’ve co-hosted a bible study and sought to spread the Word and encouragement, and have played around with the idea of developing a women’s ministry for girls in various stages of life, but haven’t felt that the right time for that has come just yet.
But I am so excited for this book and study, because I feel in my heart that this is a God-thing and that it’s an opportunity to step closer to creating that desired community! I can’t wait to begin to study this and experience the growth that I’m sure is coming!
Thank you, Jen, for following God’s call to you and also for sharing here on (in)Courage!
All because of an invitation…from God to us, then the neighbors. A powerful tool, that open door! Hot mess and all. Beautiful!
Laura Thomas says
Opening our door leads to opening our heart— I can’t wait to read this much-needed book! Hospitality is such a beautiful privilege if we can just get past the perfection/ comparison/ fear issues. Love this whole subject! 🙂
Michelle Smith says
I love it when God provides confirmation! Gives me goose bumps! The pastor’s wife was just encouraging the women at our weekly bible study to do just this…invite others into our homes!!
Becky Keife says
Woot woot! I’m so excited that this message is finally on the cusp of launching into the world! I’m so excited for you Jen, but even more I’m excited for the women of (in)courage and beyond whose lives, families, and neighborhoods will change because of this call to open the door like Jesus did. Cheering you on!
K Ann Guinn says
You caught my attention (or should I say, “the Holy Spirit caught my attention”?), when yours is about the third mention of practicing hospitality and vulnerability I’ve received this week, all from different sources. I think by now I should perk up my ears and see what God has to say!
Thanks for sharing this post as well as the first chapters of your book. I read part of it today and will read the study part tomorrow. I am “good” at hosting at times, but have too often fallen into the stress-fest mentality and unfortunately spread it to my poor family. I am learning to let go of expectations and truly focus on the guests, and your writing helps serve to remind me how to do this.
I also admit that while I’m open to inviting people we know into our home, the thought of actually inviting strangers is frightening to me; I value privacy and am not naturally comfortable with those I don’t know in such an intimate setting, although I can quite easily drum up friendly conversation with a stranger in the grocery store.
Looking forward to seeing what God has in store for me and my family as we continue to grow in this area.
Sarah Geringer says
Thank you for the preview. I can’t wait to receive it! We have a big home but rarely open it up for others to enjoy. I look forward to learning something new in this study.
Beth Williams says
Congratulations on the book!! Thanks for putting a voice to something we fear. It is important to distinguish between hospitality & entertaining. Jesus hospitality is simply having someone over to talk with. You can have snack foods & drinks or a whole meal. Just invite people over & chit chat. You’d be surprised how it makes one feel to be invited. My idea of hospitality is taking meals to others & enjoying their company.
Theresa Boedeker says
Love your definitions of hospitality. People are longing to chit chat a with another listening soul.
When I think of hospitality I think of sharing, love, and family. Looking forward to my reading my sample and taking this further! I recently built my first brand new home from ground up and all of the neighbors are brand new too, Im hoping for motivation to open my door to all and welcome them to the new community. Maybe we can do more to be connected.
Hi Melissa, love your name! We moved into our new development about 2 years ago and felt the same as you. Our children are in the teen years and now oldest off to college with lots of friends always visiting and gathering here but hubby and I wanted to make more of a connection in our neighborhood too.
First thing you need to do is get out and walk the neighborhood often, greet people and don’t be shy to introduce yourself to them. Then we moved on to simple portable firepit on the driveway early one evening after work. We sat down and waved to everyone, they stopped, we said walk back over for a drink, snack, and relax for a bit. We had an eclectic group of chairs so everyone could sit or stand around to talk, others even brought theirs along.
I’d love to hear how things are going for you over the summer, if you need any tips, recipes, or words of encouragement just email me, email@example.com.
I used to feel anxious because it had to be perfect due to how I was raised but now I have learned to keep it simple…pantry stocked with smores snack mix. While the frig is stocked with variety of beverages, fresh cut veggies and dip for everyone in the neighborhood who stops by to visit on my porch.
I always have a few chairs on the porch, tons of pillows for extra seating and a basket ready with blankets for when the sun goes down and we are still gathering.
When I say simple, I mean it because it’s the caring of others not the cleaning folks need.
When I think about hospitality and visitors I feel self-conscious and start thinking about people I know that have clear kitchen tables and dining room ready for visitors.
I am on a journey to relax and let people into my home.
Thanks for the help.
I am definitely not one to open my home up to others, which is sad because my husband’s an assistant pastor. I have major anxiety when it comes to letting others in my home, even family, and I also feel very awkward as if I don’t know what to do or how to treat a guest. Our house is very small, maybe 800 sq ft, and I’m not the best when it comes to routinely managing my home. While we have no kids, we decided last year that I will stay home and I’m really enjoying it so far, but I want to keep up my home better in order to invite others over. It’s definitely a big goal of mine this year.
Brenda McGurk says
I am thrilled that there is a book about this lost art of hospitality. As a lover of Jesus and cooking for people I look forward to learning and growing from your book.
After tragically losing my son seven years ago we lost the desire to have friends over due to anxiety and thinking everything needs to be perfect or I would feel like a failure. The Holy Spirit lead me to this book so I have faith that it will help me have the courage, tools to start using my home as a place of ministry instead of a place of sadness and grief.