Written by Melissa Miller
As I prepared for a recent mission trip to a church plant in Springfield Missouri, I had the opportunity to reflect as our team of ten read through the Book of Acts. The early Christians who lived and prayed together did life in a state of awe and excitement. They constantly saw the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in their own lives and in the miracles performed. And their numbers, despite constant persecution, grew each day.
They shared their possessions.
They ate and broke bread together.
They prayed together.
We also see a profound desire to serve each other, especially those new to the faith and those in need. In Acts 6, the apostles entrusted the responsibility of daily food distribution for widows to 7 men. While this may seem like a mundane task, it was vital to the widows. And it has given Christians over the last two centuries an example to follow:
Leaders were taught to provide opportunities for others to serve. We all learned that following Christ isn’t about being an observer, but a participant.When I put myself into that scene I imagine that there must have been someone to:
Sort out the possessions
Prepare the meeting places
Cook for the groups
Keep watch for trouble
Stand at the front door welcoming new believers
Sounds like practicing hospitality to me. I’m sure those early Christians appreciated being loved on and cared for. This was such an important aspect that later on in the book of Romans, the apostle Paul tells us, “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13
Not only were they practicing hospitality, but each believer had something unique to contribute and the apostles acknowledged this when they raised the 7 men to look after the widows.
Rewind my story 4 years. My family had been attending APC for a couple of years. I was approached by one of our pastors and asked to consider an opportunity he believed God had for me. He said that he was not sure why, but God told him to ask me about joining the staff and overseeing the Hospitality Team. It wasn’t something that I had prayed about or even previously considered. It wasn’t part of my quiet suburban plan. I had no idea what God would do through that opportunity. But God has paved the way everyday since and our family is forever changed.
The opportunity and challenge to serve and grow has been incredible. Our family has been launched into hospitality, mission trips, and ministry opportunities. It feels very much like I imagine the early disciples.
Those that served their fellow disciples.
Those that took on roles where and when the needs arose.
Those raised up to handle different aspects of the ministry.
Where did those early disciples end up? The became ministry leaders, missionaries, and church planters spread all over the world.
It is such a privilege to lead the Hospitality Team where disciples can use their giftings and talents to practice hospitality with those coming into our church, to raise up leaders and launch them out just like the early apostles did, to recognize that everyone has a gift to share, unique abilities that allow us to strengthen each other and the Kingdom of God.
Melissa Miller is the Hospitality Director at the Allison Park Church Hampton Campus. During weekend services she can be seen shaking hand and dishing out hugs. At home she is hugging her hubby of almost 17 years and their 3 amazing kiddos. The front door is always open so they can all “Practice Hospitality!”