Romans 12:13 (KJV) Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
1 Peter 4:8-9 (KJV) And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.  Use hospitality one to another without grudging.
A new Hyundai car dealership recently opened in Columbia, Tennessee. There are several things I want to say with all the love in my heart I can muster:
I’d rather be beaten by a wet belt than go to a car dealership.
I’ve been abused by car dealerships and car salesmen in the past. Now I know that not all are bad guys, but many are. I seem to meet all the bad ones.
I went to Church in Valdosta Georgia with a car salesman and owner of a dealership. “Chuck” was supposed to be a deacon in our Church. My wife needed a car, so we went to see “Chuck”. “Chuck” told me that the car had a clear coat over the paint, a clear coat that would keep the car from rusting forever. “Chuck” tapped the roof of the car just above the driver’s door with his gold ring to show us how tough the clear coat was. A year later rust popped through in exactly the place he tapped with his ring. No, I’m not kidding.
“Chuck” also bragged on the great air conditioning in the car, air conditioning that failed less than 8 months later. Just so you’ll know, when I took the car back to “Chuck” he told me neither the air conditioning nor the so called clear coat were under warranty. Sorry, it would cost me around $1000.00 to fix the air, and only the Good Lord knows how much to fix the paint. Oh, and “Chuck” would be glad to fix it for his price.
So I avoid car dealerships like a naked man avoids poison ivy.
I have a nice van that I got from a good dealership. Another man – a dear friend and Christ Follower named Bobby Crowell – helped me get this van. Bobby is with Jesus now and I miss him, but he was one of the good car salesmen. He found me a great van for my ministry, and I try and take care of it.
Taking care of a vehicle means routine oil and filter changes. I generally take my van to the local WalMart. The workers are surly and slow. It often takes about 3 hours to get the oil changed. However the cost is very reasonable – $19.95 for oil and filter, and they even check my fluid levels and tires. That’s a great price. Most of the “Minute Lube” places around here charge 59-89 dollars to change the oil and filter. So I’ve been using WalMart.
Here’s where Hyundai comes in.
The dealership sent me a advertisement.
“Grand Opening Special! Oil change with filter for $19.95”.
I got the advertisement in July but put off going until August, as it wasn’t time to do the oil change just yet. So Wednesday I headed to the Hyundai, skepticism bubbling in my heart.
I pulled up to the “Oil Change” dock and a man waved me in. “How much for an oil change?” I asked. “We charge $29.95”. I didn’t read the small print in the advertisement. The “Oil Change Special” was just till the end of July. I thanked him and said “I’ll just head toward WalMart”. The man – who’s name was Larry – smiled at me. “Is this your first visit here?” I replied, “Why yes, it is.” Larry said “We’ll do it for the $19.95”. He handed me a clipboard where I needed to put my name, address, and phone number, then said:
“You can leave the keys in the van – it’s safe with me. Please step inside, and help yourself to a soda, popcorn, and a soft seat. It’ll take a little time because there are two cars in front of you. I’ll come and get you when it’s finished.”
“It’ll take a little time”. Great. I’ll be here two hours. I walked inside expecting to be over run with car salesmen. I wasn’t. I could walk around and look, and everyone was friendly, but there was no pressure. I expected to pay for my soft drink. Nope. There was a soda machine with Coke products, plenty of ice, and fresh popcorn. Televisions were scattered throughout the very neat and comfortable waiting area. I sat down, and got out my computer so I could work on some sermons, expecting to be there a couple of hours.
I was there 20 minutes.
That was the long wait that Larry warned me about. I had barely sat down when I looked up, and here’s Larry. He shakes my hand, and tells me I can pay outside at the kiosk. He told me the girl’s name but I’ve forgotten it. But I remember Larry. I will be going back to Hyundai of Columbia because of Larry. I’ll never step foot on “Chuck’s” property again, but Larry has my business. I don’t mind paying $29.95 or $39.95 for great service like that. The Hyundai of Columbia website is here. What did I experience at Hyundai?
Good old Christian Hospitality, something sorely lacking today.
I have visited Churches where there is no hospitality. I went to one Church to preach revival. I had to ask people where the Sunday School class for my age group was. When I and my wife went in the class people sat whispering, glancing at us with sidewise looks. Finally some blurted out:
“Who are you?”
When I explained who I was, and that I was the guest speaker, suddenly we had a room full of happy to see us “friends”. My buddy “Chuck” had more sincerity. I went as a guest to a wedding at another Church. I walked up to a group of supposed to be elders and stuck out my hand. Ignoring my hand, one said “Who are you, and what do you want?” I wanted to say “I’m a child of God going to Heaven. Where are you going?” But I didn’t. No hospitality. If I were a visitor looking for a Church I’d never go back to that place.
As a pastor I often visit people. Years ago when I visited people at their homes one of the first things they would ask is:
“Would you like something to drink?”
Folks, that’s called “Hospitality”. Nowadays people rarely turn off their televisions when the preacher comes calling. There’s something wrong when a Christian does not exercise hospitality.
God expects His Children saved by grace to be gracious. He expects the Children He invited undeservedly into His family to be welcoming to others. There’s hardly a week that goes by where I don’t read something else from some expert on “Church Growth” who tells me some miracle thing they’ve discovered to pack the pews. Do you want to know how to pack the pews?
Every member needs to be gracious and hospitable.
The Scripture says in Hebrews 13:1-2 (KJV) Let brotherly love continue.  Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
The English Standard Version put’s it this way:
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers
Hospitality is love in action, a practical outworking and manifestation of love. If we want to have full services we need to stop blaming it on society, the preacher, the deacons, or whatever. We need to look at ourselves. When that visitor comes into your midst are you being “Chuck” or Larry? Do you ask their names? Do you try and make them feel comfortable. Do you maybe leave your place of comfort and sit near them, explaining what we do as a Church. The world needs love. The world appreciates hospitality. It’s time to turn off our i-phones and look our neighbor in the eye, loving them and showing hospitality for the glory of God. That’s what grows a Church.