For years I have followed Jen Schmidt on her blog, Balancing Beauty, and Bedlam.
As a (then) stay-at-home mom of two young boys struggling more days than not, I was drawn in by her transparency to share real life with a home overflowing with children and animals (now young adults) and stories of the crazy things that happen.
I’ve gleaned many great ideas over the years from Jen, everything from 10-minute meal ideas to frugal fashion tips. I’ve laughed about the son who had one of the worst roommate struggles ever. I’ve prayed for her as she openly shared their financial struggles in a season of unemployment.
She feels like a dear friend, even though we have yet to meet IRL (in real life). Maybe someday!
The cornerstone of Jen’s blog has always been one of true, often messy, authentic, hospitality.
When I heard she was writing a book and a Bible study I couldn’t wait to apply for the launch team!
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Just Open the Door: How One Invitation Can Change a Generation is a book you need to add to your reading list.
Actually, it’s a book you’ll want to dig into with your book club, women’s ministry team, and Bible study group too!
Just Open the Door is not just another book on entertaining or reaching out to your neighbors. It goes deeper, digging into the scriptures and examining the impact and legacy that can happen when we open our physical and metaphorical door.
As Jen says, “Biblical hospitality offers our best to Him first, understanding that our best to others will then fall into place…The posture we assume in hospitality is one that bends low, generously offering our heart to another despite whatever interruption to our own plans or comfort.”
Though Jen’s primary focus is on hospitality out of one’s heart and one’s home, I couldn’t help but ponder the power of hospitality in women’s ministry.
- Are we really offering Biblical, Jesus-like hospitality?
- How could we make some changes so that every woman that walks through the door feels truly welcomed?
- Are we giving our women enough time to connect when we eat together or are we rushing through the meal to get to the next item on the agenda?
- What would happen if we tried to break up our holy huddles by encouraging our team members to embrace the Rule of Three – talking to three new people they don’t know at every women’s ministry event? (Jen challenges herself to do this during her son’s football practices.)
- Jesus repeatedly used food as a tool to connect and teach people. How can we do the same?
Am I stepping on anyone’s toes, yet?
I highlighted many things in Just Open the Door, but this one of two quotes that I starred and ear-marked:
As women, our souls ache for an invitation to be included and welcomed. We possess a hidden longing for rooted relationships that journey through life with us.
Women’s ministry can, and should, offer that invitation and come alongside women in their journey.
Jen pushes readers beyond décor, food, and serving dishes, (though she does share fabulous tips about all three!) to examine the three main purposes of hospitality revealed in scripture:
- Encouragement to others
But is this how we’re approaching hospitality as a women’s ministry team? I think we’re often falling short… I know I’ve sat in on 15-minute napkin color debates without a concern for how the Gospel was going to be shared. Can you relate?
Ladies, it’s time “we reshape our preconceived notions about hospitality and align them with God’s Word.”
When our focus is on the décor and not the people walking through the door we are missing out on being a part of God’s plan.
Our goal should be to create a special place where people are welcomed into community and can encounter Jesus more fully.
Did you get that?! Yes! This is the goal! (And, yes, this is the other quote I dog-eared and starred.) Maybe you even want to re-write your women’s ministry mission statement to include this gem.
Whether God’s calling you to open the door of your home or open the door of your heart, this book will encourage and equip you to take steps of faith forward trusting God with the outcome. Because it’s really okay to invite people over to a messy house and use red solo cups.
For those of you interested in the Bible study. There is a Bible study kit available with 7 video sessions. Participants will only need the Open the Door Bible study book. You can get a glimpse at the Bible study sessions on LifeWay’s website here.
One year ago: How to Get Women to Show Up
Two years ago: Book Review: Audacious (with a Bonus Study Guide)
Three years ago: Mission Project: Operation Sandwich
Four years ago: Reno Project #4: Updating Your Publicity