by Joel Comiskey
Material things have a tendency to dominate, rather than serve. People start focusing on the things rather than the purpose for them. Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15). When God graciously gives a nice home or apartment to a believer, it’s not only for personal consumption but to use for others.
One reason cell ministry doesn’t grow more rapidly is because of the lack of hospitality. People are not willing to open their homes for cell groups. But this problem also plagued the early church, and Peter addresses the issue in 1 Peter 4:9, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9). The early church depended on hospitable members to open their homes and some were grumbling about it, rather than joyfully welcoming others.
The word hospitality means “be friendly; generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” Synonyms are: warm reception, welcome, helpfulness, neighborliness, warmth, kindness, congeniality, generosity, entertainment, food. All believers can improve their hospitality–their generosity, neighborliness, and entertainment of guests. But those who open their homes for cell groups have a special opportunity to offer hospitality.
The role of the host is one of the most under-appreciated aspects of cell ministry. We hear a lot about the cell leader, coach, and pastor but preciously little about the host. Yet, hosting a cell meeting can make or break cell ministry. An effective host creates a welcoming atmosphere that draws people back. Hosts allow the cell leader to focus on the people present and relieves him or her from all the additional hosting work.
Is there a gift of hospitality? Some writers think so. I’m not sure if such a gift exists, but I do believe that certain spiritual gifts make it easier to host a cell group. For example, those with the gift of helps, service, pastor, giving, or mercy normally make great hosts. And I believe that God has placed an abundance of the gifts of helps and service in the body of Christ. Those hosts who possess “hospitality type” gifts make excellent “permanent” hosts. Yet, I also believe that all Christians should grow in hospitality and learn to become better hosts.