Lives that Welcome

How a Non-Western Understanding of Hospitality Can Revitalize the American Church’s Fellowship and Outreach


  • Jessica A. Udall


Hospitality, Loneliness, African hospitality


Loneliness plagues the West, and those in evangelical churches in America are not immune. Church leaders have sought to address the loneliness epidemic by stressing the need for involvement in small groups. This initiative is admirable but becomes problematic when viewed as the single benchmark for a church’s success in “doing community.” The practice of hospitality that goes beyond programs—including small groups—is needed if the American church is to be truly effective in fellowship, evangelism, or discipleship. This article argues that a lifestyle of hospitality is one of the greatest tools for reaching post-Christian neighbors, immigrants, and the unreached around the world. Misunderstandings regarding hospitality in the American church are examined and clarifying ways forward are discussed. Non-western models and practices of hospitality—and their congruence with biblical norms—are considered as instructive for the American church’s growth in this area.