Hosting Made Easier, Simpler & More Fruitful

Mar 19, 2020

Written by Erin Flanagan

When my husband, Kyle, and I moved to WV almost ten years ago, we had no family, no friends, and limited connections in our area. After attending our church for only a short amount of time, several families invited us into their homes to share a meal with them. They spent time intentionally getting to know us and made us feel like a part of the community. Those were some of my sweetest memories of our first year in WV.

Being welcomed into someone’s home made such an impact on us, that we decided to incorporate it into our own lives. Over the ten years, we have had the chance to open our home to both large and small groups – everything from the one on one intimate meals to large  groups of people where we have used every available chair in our house. We have shared meals with those from all different backgrounds and stages in life from the young and single to the older empty nesters.  We have had the most beautifully diverse holiday dinners with people that don’t have family nearby. We were honored to host a dinner for a missionary couple and other couples within our church where we heard about how God was working in other areas of the world. After every meal we share, my heart is full. Sharing meals has allowed us to move past the surface exchanges of casual conversations and get to know our brothers and sisters in Christ on a deeper level. It has cultivated special relationships that I was not expecting.

If you look at Jesus’ earthly ministry it often included food. It was used in his miracles, an example in parables, and many significant moments happened around a dinner table. It is no surprise that it is still used for ministry. People understand food. It is something common that we all need and experience daily. Food is a beautiful equalizer that can facilitate fellowship and strengthen relationships.

Hosting meals can be an uncomfortable or overwhelming experience. However, don’t let the perceived stress push you away from the beautiful opportunity to share a meal. Here are some tips we have learned over the years that hopefully are helpful for you:

  1. Don’t be scared off by big families or families with kids

Once we became a family of six, we had to think through variables that we hadn’t before (i.e. having to fit twins into a standard Shopping cart, sitting on floors of hotel rooms, how to arrange our kids around dining room tables).  All these became opportunities to be creative. All that to say: large families are used to having to think through logistics in order to accommodate the entire family. If the dining room won’t fit everyone, you put a blanket on the floor where the kids can sit or even eat in shifts by letting the kids eat first, then the adults can sit with less interruption. Be creative!

2. Ask about allergies or food aversions

Don’t forget to ask if there are food allergies or foods that the family avoids. Time to time I forget to ask, and I have felt bad when a guest isn’t able to eat the meal that I prepared. When you ask someone about these things, it shows them you care and it also lets you know a little bit about them.

3. Be willing to share the work!

Often, guests will offer to bring food to contribute to the meal. Allow them to bring a dessert or a side dish. It takes some of the work off you and gives you an opportunity to extend a “Thank You” to your guest as well.

4. Think outside your home

If you desire to share a meal with others but you don’t have the accommodations in your home to host a family, look at places outside your home to share a meal. Meet at a restaurant, take a picnic to a park, or offer to bring food to their house.

When our twins were two years old and getting into everything, it was stressful to think about taking them to some ones else’s house. We had several families come to our house to share a meal, and THEY brought the food. It was a huge gift! First, I didn’t have to cook or clean up after meal prep. Secondly, we were in our own home where our twins knew their boundaries and rules. It made it so much easier to focus on the conversation and get to know our guests.

5. Keep it simple

The reason for sharing a meal isn’t to impress your brothers and sisters in Christ – it is to build relationships with each other. From time to time, I have to preach this to myself. I have always enjoyed cooking, and I love opportunities to try new recipes and sharing them with guests can make it extra enjoyable. Still, there have been times when the stress of a complicated recipe was not allowing a meal to come together before guests were set to arrive. Wouldn’t it be a better use of my time to choose a simple meal and spend time praying for the family that is coming over and enjoying our time together rather than praying that the roast is tender enough?

This list is not meant to be a “How-To” list of what makes a night successful. The success of the evening should be measured by the quality and depth of the conversations and connections you make.

For those interested, below I have listed some of my favorite recipes and food bloggers!


  1. Chili ( is my favorite chili! When I make it, I usually double or triple it and freeze it. Freezing meals makes it easy to bless families you know that have a struggle that doesn’t necessarily require a meal sign up. Sick kids or car trouble can make for a hard day for a family and dropping off a container of soup to a family will be a welcomed blessing.

  1. Pork Chops (

If you have had a baby in the past couple of years, I have probably brought you these pork chops! This is the recipe I follow, but I double the brown sugar.

Food Bloggers

1. Budget Bytes (

This is one of my favorite food bloggers. She breaks down recipes by cost, so you can choose budget conscious recipe. Some of our favorite recipes are the ones we have found on her site! Try the Sweet Potato and Chorizo Enchiladas!

2. Made it Ate It Loved It (

What I love about this food blogger is that her recipes are easy to follow and always turn out well! Many of her recipes are easy to make for a large group, and if you are confused by the recipe, she has videos!

And they…breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.
— Acts 2:46