Showing Hospitality in an Apartment

Originally published Tuesday, 24 September 2013.

Living in an apartment and trying to practice hospitality can be a challenge and presents unique opportunities for ministering to others.

Hospitality in an apartment can be tough and poses challenges that those living in a house do not always share. I hope to provide some encouragement that it is possible to practice hospitality in an apartment - you just have to get creative sometimes! 

Practical Tips on Showing Hospitality While Living in an Apartment

1) Remember why you are serving

Sometimes, it seems like families avoid going to your apartment. You offer your place for Bible study and someone with a house offers theirs instead. 

Usually (if not always) the families who ask instead to have the dinner, lunch or get together at their house are doing it because they are uncomfortable in some way or don’t want to be a burden.

2) Many families are not used to hospitality: be patient!

Hospitality is mostly a lost practice in our culture today. Families within and outside the church are often not familiar and may not be comfortable with hospitality. When you invite a family over for dinner this may be the first time they have been invited to someone’s house in a very long time. We get used to having friends and family over in our culture, but we are not used to inviting total or near strangers over to share a meal.

3) Families with children can be difficult sometimes

Families with children, especially young children, can be very conscious of the mess their children might make, the room they take up and the noise level. Again, families may not want to burden you with this. 

Often, it can be embarrassing to the parent's when their children are out of control and don't want to put themselves in that situation. It's often far easier to put their kids to bed in their own beds than to be at a stranger's house.

Families may be declining your invitation due to embarrassment at how their children might act at someone else’s house or apartment. Keep this mind and watch when you go to their house how they deal with their children as dinner time and how early they go to bed.

4) Give GOOD directions and make it easy

Living in an apartment, we get used to where you are to park and how to find your apartment. But an apartment complex can be so confusing to a new comer! 

Some may feel that it is easier just to invite you to their house where you can pull up into the driveway and walk right in the house. So always make it easy for the family you are inviting over. 

Our apartment complex can be confusing so we have done things such as open up our patio door and turn the light on. As soon as we see them coming down the side walk we head to the patio and point them in the right direction. Or be prepared with a complex map that you can email to them along with the address and what they can bring.

5) Let them help!

Sometimes families can feel like a burden either of time or finances to a young couple. If they offer to bring something then let them! 

Do not assume that the family will or even can bring something but if you know this family wants to contribute then let them! Being able to bring something such as a salad, dessert, or drinks helps the family to feel more at ease and helps them feel like they are contributing.

6) Make your apartment kid-friendly

The more we practice hospitality the more we realize that we need to have a game plan for when kids come over to our apartment. Since we don’t have kids we often make plans without them in mind. Some families will require that their children sit quietly during dinner and while we talk and other children will freely roam your apartment.

Be ready for kids being in your apartment. Grab a couple cheap toys at Goodwill {and wash them thoroughly} or find Veggie Tales on Netflix and offer to put a movie on for the kids.


7) Practice, practice, practice! 

Some families may never feel comfortable enough to come to your apartment, but that’s okay! Don’t take it personal and be thankful for any opportunity you get.

We have taken the initiative to invite a family over. I’m already planning on what to cook and I have game ideas ready and then they invite you to their house instead. I know that I can get hurt feelings but at the end of the day you never know why the family wants it at their house.

Keep practicing hospitality and always continue learning. If you are known for practicing hospitality within the church and word spreads that you have had families in your apartment, more families will feel comfortable going to your apartment. Make it as easy for the families as possible and kid friendly!

And always remember that the goal of hospitality is to share Christ with those in our church and our neighborhoods! You can get to know a new family from church just as well at their house so be thankful for this season in life and remember this for when you have a house and family and a young married couple in an apartment invites you over.