When we were 23 and 24 years old we read a very influential book, “Open Heart, Open Home” by Karen Mains. It basically challenges the idea that your home is your fortress or your showplace. She wrote it after the kid next door from a dysfunctional home repeatedly tracked dirt on her nice carpets, etc. and she was tempted to limit his entrance to her home. Then, of course, the Lord rebuked her and reminded her that it was His house given for her to enjoy and to minister out of so she needed to loosen up and try her best to get lost people and others who needed a shelter to come inside it. That really resonated with us and we have tried to run an open home ever since. We often have an extra half-dozen people for dinner at night and especially on weekends. Sometimes that means someone staying with us for months at a time. Maybe we invite them, and sometimes they invite themselves.
Now if you are going to run an open home you need to make a few adjustments. For starters, you need some new systems of care that are not built on entertaining but on practicing biblical hospitality (meeting the person’s real need). For example a tired college student is fine with a sofa to sleep on. Don’t turn him away because you have no more bedrooms. Tables should be round, not rectangular. Sherry says, “There’s always room for one more at a round table.” You need also to have an attitude adjustment about the cost of food, etc. Don’t calculate it. Just give. And it will be given unto you. Good measure, pressed down, running over. If you look at the context of that verse I really don’t think Jesus was talking about giving in an offering in a church service but giving to real people in life. Share food, money, and beds with people and God will fill your cupboard and bank account back up when they run empty.
An open home is a little messy most of the time, but it is a place of laughter and warmth. I encourage you to open your doors and your kitchen table and invite someone into your life to share community. We have found so much joy that way and our life is a greater influence. Our home is the absolute center of our ministry. Everything “public” flows from there.
Chuck and Sherry Quinley have six children. The Quinleys are 25-year veteran missionaries serving mainly within the 10/40 window of Asia. To follow the Qunileys visit quinley.com and for some great Christian radio, visit their station The Edge.