Thursday, September 10, 2015

be with the ones who are here...

Man, it's hard, but I'm trying to be more intentional about hospitality with our college students these days.  

Since we moved into our historic place downtown last year, I've fallen into the trap of using all kinds of excuses not to invite students over as frequently.

This house doesn't have good "flow" for company.
There's not enough open space for students.
It's just so hard with two little kids in this stage of life.  (now, THAT excuse is true!)

I know my sin of perfectionism doesn't help, either.  Honestly, deep down in my heart, I'd prefer my house look like Pinterest than to open up my place, mess and all, to others.  

I think it took hearing one of our senior RUF girls saying, "Oh, I've never been to your new place!" after we'd lived there AN ENTIRE YEAR for me to realize I needed to get over myself and start the long-lost Christian practice of hospitality. 

the cleanest my living room will ever be after Marc ordered maid service as a gift to me!
Just before the semester started, we bought a church pew removed from an old african american church, placed it where our tv stand used to be, and then we wall-mounted our tv.  We also replaced our oversized loveseat with two chairs, and it's like the entire room opened up and felt ready for COMPANY.  The focus of the room went from "come watch TV," to now "be with the ones who are HERE."

(Speaking of "be with the ones who are here," that's the slogan we put on our cell phone basket we use during our student ministry team meetings.  It's so easy today to be "connected" to hundreds and thousands of people without ever truly connecting to those who are sitting right next to you.)
"Be with the ones who are here" cell phone basket we use during ministry team meetings.

So, the house was ready to practice hospitality.  Now the question was when would we have them over?

When you're a worship director married to a college minister, weeknight evenings together as a family are rare during the semester.

Thankfully we're able to eat dinner together every night as a family, but the calendar is quite full in the evening...

Sunday: RUF ministry team meetings
Tuesday: "family night" with our new intern
Wednesday: worship team practice
Thursday: RUF night
weekends: RUF events

Our family time is so precious and so limited during the semester anyways, so the thought of adding another night to host students for dinner wasn't an option!  We had to get a little creative.

Enter Sunday Supper.

We came up with this idea called "Sunday Supper," and decided we'd invite four students (two from ministry team, two not on ministry team) for dinner each Sunday evening before our ministry team meeting.  Stack two events in one evening!
ministry team members "practicing" doing one-on-ones with one another
We're keeping it easy and preparing the same meal EVERY WEEK- chili in the crockpot and mini cornbread muffins.  I don't really have to think about it much, and since the students are rotating, why should the food?   (After another 6 weeks, maybe we'll be tired of that meal and switch to another one...)

I love how it's becoming part of our family's DNA this semester.  After our Sunday afternoon naptime/rest time, Jameson and Caroline come and help me in the kitchen.  Caroline makes cookies for dessert all by herself now!  Jameson helps me with the cornbread muffins and setting the table while Marc tidies up the house.  We are really enjoying the feeling of working together as a team, and my kids absolutely LOVE when students come over anyways, so for them, it builds their anticipation for the evening.

The thing I'm learning about hospitality is that people don't care about your house.  
Or your food.  
They care about being invited.  
They care about belonging and feeling connected  in the process of spending time together.

As a result, our hearts AND tummies are full.
We're growing relationships.
(Maybe we're even inspiring students toward hospitality themselves.)

face painting each other after Sunday Supper!

Just being with the ones who are here.

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