The Gospel Comes with a House Key

The Gospel Comes with a House Key

The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian WorldAbout The Gospel Comes with a House KeyThe word hospitality often invokes a scene of a gracious, impeccably fashioned host welcoming guests into a beautifully appointed home prepared with perfectly-presented meals. However, when the Bible calls Christians to be hospitabl...

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Title:The Gospel Comes with a House Key
Author:Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
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Edition Language:English

The Gospel Comes with a House Key Reviews

  • Jessi

    This is a hard review to write. First, in college I was welcomed by the author into the very type of hospitality she describes in this book. I know that she practices what she preaches, and practices it very well. I was an unchurched Christian and she brought me, and many other college students, to church followed by lunch in her modest apartment with delicious and modest meals. The wisdom, love, and conversation she shared at these lunches were delightful. Many of us would stay the whole day an

    This is a hard review to write. First, in college I was welcomed by the author into the very type of hospitality she describes in this book. I know that she practices what she preaches, and practices it very well. I was an unchurched Christian and she brought me, and many other college students, to church followed by lunch in her modest apartment with delicious and modest meals. The wisdom, love, and conversation she shared at these lunches were delightful. Many of us would stay the whole day and return with her for evening worship, in the small church's basement.

    Still, after I began this book, I was nervous. At first, I really did worry it was going to be a new law, and I think it was the description of how the Butterfields practice hospitality and the insistence that

    must practice "daily" or "nightly" table fellowship. It is embarrassing to say, because it shows how unlike Rosaria I am, but I scoffed at this! You mean to say God

    that every day or night I need to open my home to people and if I don't, I am sinning? Can that truly be a biblical command that I have been ignoring for my whole Christian life? This made me both nervous and skeptical. Oh no! I can't even handle all of the things I already feel obligated to try to do well! Should I even finish reading this book? Am I just going to feel guilty? But I know how lovely Rosaria's Lord's Days were! How lovely she is! Keep reading! And I was also aware, thankfully, that even if I can't do it the Butterfield way, I should be involved in hospitality

    more than I am now. So I read it with part skepticism (sorry!) and part trepidation--I know I need to do this better. Keep reading!

    The weirdest part was that the crazy radical hospitality that she describes is probably my dream life! I would love to see neighbors everyday and be in and out of people's lives in such a constant way. But reading it when I was wondering if this was a command, scared me still! I don't live this way and I don't see that coming any time soon. I have five kids that I am homeschooling. I know she homeschools, too, but we are different people with different gifts (she is brilliant, for instance) and have different numbers and ages of children and probably different levels of hands-on-edness required, etc. The fact that I even had to wrestle with these things (and make excuses for myself!) is what made me nervous! Should I be defending myself--to myself--because I don't see making my house look exactly like hers? Again, the conviction that I was guilty of practicing hospitality less than I should be, regardless if it should be daily or weekly or what, told me to keep reading.

    So I did! Finishing the whole book, I do not think that this book is saying that we must look like the Butterfields in order to be living right, because she does share how other people practice hospitality and they don't all look like hers (chapter eight). Also, she describes a period of time (in chapter seven--my very favorite chapter for its sweetness and evidence of God's beautiful grace in an otherwise sad story) where she could not practice this daily hospitality. She sorrowfully missed practicing this way, but she doesn't say she was sinning.

    I think my knee-jerk reaction to the earliest chapters were probably me reading the book critically out of a guilty conscience. I know I

    practice regular or even frequent hospitality. I know that I could do some things differently in order to love my neighbors (which

    God's command for us) better and more frequently or even at all. I don't know many of my neighbors. I don't invite all the people from my church, even, to my home regularly. This book really gives a vision for an incredible, and hard, people-filled life--and it shows how this life brings people to the Lord himself! In the end, it has been a great encouragement! I fully recommend it.

    As a memoir sharing how living a life of radical hospitality has turned strangers into friends into family members, this book is incredible. Five stars.

  • Jillian Vincent

    Rosaria has a very unique perspective that makes this book so rich, smart, and gospel centric. She doesn’t mince words and she sticks to the Bible as her rubric for hospitality. I walked away thinking that I had actually sat in her home and experienced the radical hospitality she writes about, and it is not extravagant, but rather ordinary and still so beautiful. It unites people that were once strangers and gives priority to an open door. I love that she is an introvert, pragmatic, and just wor

    Rosaria has a very unique perspective that makes this book so rich, smart, and gospel centric. She doesn’t mince words and she sticks to the Bible as her rubric for hospitality. I walked away thinking that I had actually sat in her home and experienced the radical hospitality she writes about, and it is not extravagant, but rather ordinary and still so beautiful. It unites people that were once strangers and gives priority to an open door. I love that she is an introvert, pragmatic, and just works with what she has. I’m so inspired, and I’m thankful for her rekindling a passion for loving others with what God has given me. Easily best book I’ve read so far this year.

  • Bambi Moore

    4 1/2 stars. This book is thought-stirring and a deeply challenging call on hospitality to the stranger and outcast. She calls us to love our LGBT neighbors with hospitality and hope of the gospel, not fearing or despising them. This book was hard for me to put down. I will read it again someday.

    The type of hospitality that Mrs. Butterfield holds out before us is indeed radical. She gives many, many examples of this in her own life. So many in fact that sometimes the book felt more like a memoir

    4 1/2 stars. This book is thought-stirring and a deeply challenging call on hospitality to the stranger and outcast. She calls us to love our LGBT neighbors with hospitality and hope of the gospel, not fearing or despising them. This book was hard for me to put down. I will read it again someday.

    The type of hospitality that Mrs. Butterfield holds out before us is indeed radical. She gives many, many examples of this in her own life. So many in fact that sometimes the book felt more like a memoir. But this did not put me off, as I do love memoirs! And Mrs. Butterfield’s conversion story is such a staggering example of God’s grace that I would have read this book just to read of her current walk with Christ since writing Secret Thoughts. I highly recommend reading her Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert before reading this one.

    I have a slight problem or two with this book, same as I’ve seen others mention. Mrs Butterfield does seem to brush off hospitality with like-minded people. In my own life however, most people do not even extend hospitality to other Christians, or even accept an OFFER of hospitality from other Christians. I can’t count the times I’ve been flat turned down, and it is a very rare thing for my family to be invited into others’ homes. And so I wish that like-minded hospitality had been addressed at least as a starting point for those who aren’t yet offering their homes to anyone, period. Hospitality requires a level of humility because there is no way to have others in your home without exposing your own or your family’s flaws. And at least in my circles, no one wants to do even this small thing. In short, Mrs Butterfield rightly holds up a high bar for us, especially those who believe hospitality is commanded but aren’t reaching out to the strangers among us. I wonder if this high bar will blow the minds of some who have yet to get their feet wet. Like I said, very thought-provoking book.

    Her testimony of ministering to her mentally-ill mother was beautiful. Her example as a helper to her pastor-husband was fantastic and very interesting to me as well. The transparency and truth she shared about her church’s sin, the discipline of its leaders and the effects on the rest of the body, was humbly shared.

    At times she mentions things that made me scratch my head as to what it had to do with hospitality. For instance she mentions several times a disdain for social media. Which I understood but it just didn’t seem to fit/flow with the book. A time or two I felt like my hand was slapped and a tone of winsomeness was needed. Just my opinion. That’s a hard balance for a writer.

    Overall I loved the book. It was heavy on real-life examples but I enjoyed them. Mrs.Butterfield has a gift of hospitality that is highly exercised and I’m thankful she shared her writing with us. Parts of the book I thought, “Wow, she is so brave to be saying these things!”

  • Charity

    My praise: The church needs this message desperately. I love how she emphasized that the gospel isn’t a perfected speech, a rehearsed checklist. It’s walking with.. it’s leaning into and embracing the process of walking with someone towards Christ. The process is important. I also appreciated her very practical examples of what hospitality looks like, dissolving the role of host and guest, and being willing to serve beans and rice.

    My critiques: Sometimes I felt like she wrote with a sort of arr

    My praise: The church needs this message desperately. I love how she emphasized that the gospel isn’t a perfected speech, a rehearsed checklist. It’s walking with.. it’s leaning into and embracing the process of walking with someone towards Christ. The process is important. I also appreciated her very practical examples of what hospitality looks like, dissolving the role of host and guest, and being willing to serve beans and rice.

    My critiques: Sometimes I felt like she wrote with a sort of arrogance, and a know it all attitude. When she started saying it was “sinful” of her to reschedule with a neighbor, I cringed. Her black and white statements (though sometimes helpful and understandable knowing from where she came from) were also sometimes out of line in my opinion.

  • Rachel Schultz

    This book had some very good parts and some painfully bad. I would love to discuss this book in a group! And I would love having someone like Rosaria live in my neighborhood! My best take away is a reminder that living Christianity should be costly. I have to push myself. I have to work hard. I have to die to my self. That’s true with how I wife and how I mom. And how I hospitality. She made the point well that you should hospitality with sacrifice. Also she gave good advice to just start anywhe

    This book had some very good parts and some painfully bad. I would love to discuss this book in a group! And I would love having someone like Rosaria live in my neighborhood! My best take away is a reminder that living Christianity should be costly. I have to push myself. I have to work hard. I have to die to my self. That’s true with how I wife and how I mom. And how I hospitality. She made the point well that you should hospitality with sacrifice. Also she gave good advice to just start anywhere if you’re intimidated.

    Criticisms

    - Before reading this I heard she comes off as very humblebrag and I tried to not be swayed by a predisposition from hearing that, but yes, the smugness was grating. It seemed like almost continuous stories about how she was the hero of a scenario or how someone else (Christians and non Christians) was unloving or a buffoon and then she and her husband fixed it. I sympathize that it might be a challenge to write a book about how to do hospitality with the main framework being telling stories about how you did it well. And pointing out this smugness feedback would be difficult for a publisher and author to give/recieve. But I do think of women who have written books with topics like this (ex: Rose Marie Miller) and avoided this pitfall.

    - False dichotomies. One example is in the beginning when they learn their neighbor across the street was running a meth lab. She goes through a list of wrong things they could have done. “We could surround myself with fear: What if the meth lab explodes and takes out my daughter’s bedroom (the room closet to the lab) with it?” And then after the list… “But that of course, is not what Jesus calls us to do” (19). LOL! Actually, concern for my daughter not getting blown up by a meth lab is super god honoring! And doing that does not mean I think other people are worse sinners than I, shouldn’t be ministered to, couldn’t be saved, etc. But she described it that way, or wasn’t careful enough to nuance there and elsewhere.

    - She wants to make the point that good hospitality doesn’t have to be fancy and we should not avoid hospitality because of materialism. True. But she wades in to some asceticism. Having a nice home can be god honoring. If the choices are do nothing or do hot dogs then do hot dogs. But special, not utilitarian food is a God glorifying, practicing dominion way to bless people too. (She talks a lot about serving beans and rice and how stuff isn’t fancy.) There are times for both! This didn’t have to be a huge point, but it is not in the book at all. And that is a missing piece when you are talking about hospitality.

    - Too prescriptive. One of the endorsements she included even said this. (!) She seems to write in a way that anyone who is not doing hospitality like her is unfaithful. Many people SHOULD NOT do hospitality like she does for them to be faithful with other God given responsibilities. AND we need people that ARE doing hospitality like she does. The lonely can’t be settled into families if we don’t have well functioning families. And some families would not be thriving if the mom wasn’t spending her time in a hugely different way than Rosaria can. In the conclusion she goes through a list of “Imagine…” to paint a picture of a hospitable world. “Imagine a world where every Christian knew by name people who lived in poverty or prison, felt tied to them and their futures, and lived differently because of it.” Then to conclude the list, “This is the world God imagines for us.” (220). This is flat wrong. I think of Kevin DeYoung in Crazy Busy who says every Christian needs to care and be sad about sex trafficking, but not every Christian is responsible to personally do something about sex trafficking. And also when Kevin DeYoung talks about “moral proximity” where our relationships are like concentric circles and we are most responsible for the smallest circle (our family) and then working outward, circles like - our local church, the global church, our community, the world at large, etc.

    - There are a few very long sections of Rosaria telling personal stories, that I think only barely thread the needle of connecting back to hospitality. (Ex: Her cousin opening a gay bar, an incident of church discipline in her church). The amount of detail was excessive for the points she did make about hospitality. I think this book would have be less frustrating for some readers if it was more clearly branded as very predominantly memoir. It is not teaching on hospitality punctuated with personal stories and examples; it is personal stories and examples punctuated with teaching.

    - The book would have been better without Rosaria’s pretty numerous political opinions - drug sentencing, environment, and immigration are some I readily remember. I can think drug crime sentencing is not too harsh and still be a faithful Christian and a faithful practitioner of hospitality. If she agrees with that sentence she did not make that clear to the reader.

  • NinaB

    *I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via #netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

    I have been looking forward to reading this book; first, because the author is one I’ve admired from afar ever since I read her first book, Confessions of an Unlikely Convert; second, because hospitality is a ministry dear to my heart. I had high expectations for this book; and sadly, it slightly disappoints. Perhaps I’m being nit picky and I apologize if I sound harsh, but I need to give my

    *I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via #netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

    I have been looking forward to reading this book; first, because the author is one I’ve admired from afar ever since I read her first book, Confessions of an Unlikely Convert; second, because hospitality is a ministry dear to my heart. I had high expectations for this book; and sadly, it slightly disappoints. Perhaps I’m being nit picky and I apologize if I sound harsh, but I need to give my honest review. It is perplexing because though I do not love the book, I do not have a problem recommending it to others. (I gave it a 4* on netgalley bec of this).

    I’m not sure if this is promoted as such, but it is part memoir, part theology lesson, part christian living kind of book. Interwoven are the theological basis, biblical illustrations and personal story about hospitality. Mrs. Butterfield is a good writer and could very well be the most qualified to talk about hospitality, but I still find issues in the book that I cannot give it a 5-Star rating.

    These issues are not theological in nature, so I can still in good conscience recommend the book. For sure, it is highly engaging, saturated with Scripture, and convicting to the core. I’ve had to stop several times to repent for past sins in the area of hospitality and pray for God’s grace to help me a better hostess.

    I cried reading about her tumultuous relationship with her mother. I especially love that she encourages us to not idolize safety and security, something American Christians are obsessed with. We need to live our ordinary lives radically and one way we do that is through hospitality. Here are some favorite quotes:

    I know I can’t save anyone. Jesus alone saves, and all I do is show up. Show up we must.

    Radically ordinary hospitality is this: using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangers neighbors, and neighbors family of God. It brings glory to God, serves others, and lives out the gospel in word and deed.

    Christians must learn to practice radically ordinary hospitality not only as the hosts of this world but, perhaps more importantly, as its despised guests. Let’s face it: we have become unwelcome guests in this post-Christian world.

    God calls us to make sacrifices that hurt so that others can be served and maybe even saved. We are called to die. Nothing less.

    The job of an ally makes the cross lighter, not by erecting or supporting laws that oppose God’s law, but by being good company in the bearing of its weight.

    Now for the disappointing parts...here are just a few:

    Perhaps this is unavoidable when writing a memoir, and I have a sensitivity to humble-bragging because of my own pride problems, but I find her constant use of her own personal triumphs in hospitality as a little irksome. I don’t want to judge her motives, but it gets old when I read one hospitable act by the author after another. She did use other people’s examples, but it’s mostly about her and her family’s sacrifice and good works. This is especially interesting because she talks highly of her husband who would not “tarnish by bragging about it (one’s coming to faith through their hospitality) on a blog post or on Facebook. Kent is a Christian man. Christian men do not steal glory from God. This is the kind of news that moves mountains, something to be addressed in the sacred moment of table fellowship.”

    Her schedule seems unmaintainable. Doing intentional ministry every day could exhaust even the most devoted Christian. As a minister’s wife, I understand that being in full-time ministry is a 24/7 kind of job, and opportunities to serve could come at any moment. But her way is to have something planned every day. Maybe these are assumed, but I ask her, When does she devote time alone with her husband? When does she foster one on one time with her kids? It is hard to imagine she has time for them just by reading about her schedule.

    One of the characters she mentions in the book is Hank who starts as a grumpy neighbor and becomes a friend. Later on, it is found out he was leading a secret criminal life. I understand and admire the author’s compassion for her friend, but her intent focus on this made her question the fairness of his incarceration, made her forget his serious crimes that hurt a lot of people. His sins are somewhat downplayed. Yes, as a Christian, he has been forgiven, but he still has to face the consequences of his sins.

    She quotes and uses as a good example a Catholic priest who “regarded hospitality as a spiritual movement, one that is possible only when loneliness finds its spiritual refreshment in solitude, when hostility resolves itself in hospitality, and when illusion is manifested in prayer.” This sounds mystical and, as an ex-Catholic, I seriously have an issue promoting any of them.

    I found two typos: principal when she meant principle, tails instead of tales.

  • Margaret Bronson

    I've been dying to read this book since before it was even released; the Gospel and hospitality? two of my favorite subjects? written by one of my favorite authors? I couldn't wait.

    Now that I've read it I think I'm mostly disappointed. While there were lots of good things about this book, for me it fell flat. But, let me start with the good stuff:

    Pros:

    - Her story about meeting her teenage son in a group home for the first time ripped my heart out and deepened my prayers for our hopeful future in

    I've been dying to read this book since before it was even released; the Gospel and hospitality? two of my favorite subjects? written by one of my favorite authors? I couldn't wait.

    Now that I've read it I think I'm mostly disappointed. While there were lots of good things about this book, for me it fell flat. But, let me start with the good stuff:

    Pros:

    - Her story about meeting her teenage son in a group home for the first time ripped my heart out and deepened my prayers for our hopeful future in fostering to adopt.

    - The last chapter was solid gold. So helpful. I wish the whole book had been like that.

    - Chapter 6, Judas in the Church, was also really good, though there were several times I wish she had been a little more clear. I have several situations that are definitely in the borderlands of hospitality but because it mostly revolved around how the Church should respond I was left wishing she gave some thoughts to how individuals within the church should respond.

    - I loved that this book didn't include any recipes or party ideas.

    - I loved that she was all about the messy home hospitality, mismatched cheap dinner ware, and cheap filling foods. Cuz that's my kind of hospitality.

    Neutral:

    - She's Presbyterian and I'm Baptist so there is a whole element to this that is based in a very different set of theological ideas. (Covenantal theology)

    Cons (Guys, I'm REALLY not trying to be nit-picky, I wanted to love this and thought about not leaving a review but I'm actually worried about some of this stuff):

    - I was not expecting what really ought to have been sold as a memoir. I think, had it been billed that way, it would have been a better read for me. I struggled with what, to me, came across as "how to be hospitable like me." I wish that the structure of the book had started with Jesus and the Gospel and what that means for our homes and churches, and THEN provided pictures that added a practical, tangible look at what that means.

    - Because it was written more like a memoir it was SO WORDY. Her stories lasted so long I forgot what point she was trying to make with them and sometimes didn't see that she made her point by the time she got to the end.

    - Part of why I wished it had been written in a more traditional Christian living style is because Mrs. Butterfield's world is not my world. With every story I felt the chasm between the world she ministers in and the world my family ministers in. My world is a lot poorer: meth next door is the norm and mental illness is everywhere. This is why I wish she had started with some broad, hard-hitting truths the Gospel teaches us about hospitality so that they could be applied in any context.

    - Because of the way she continues to use herself as an example she becomes the picture to compare ourselves against rather than the gospel, and I think it's actually rather damaging. Mrs. Butterfield includes a breakdown of her week and it's enough to send anyone into a total mental breakdown.

    My schedule is very, very full of hospitality and ministry, yet it doesn't come close to what she has going on. Most concerning is the lack of time set apart to have quality time with her husband and children. But I believe our family is our first ministry, those to whom we owe the highest level of hospitality and whose needs dictate to a degree how much and what kind of hospitality we offer to others. To recommend otherwise in a book on hospitality, even by omission, is, I think, dangerous. For example, my husband is chronically ill; if I over-filled our schedule he would be back in the hospital in a flash, my son would be an anxious mess and my third child, my baby, would go un-held more than he already is.

    - I found her response to parents' concerns about our hospitality inadvertently exposing children to things they aren't ready for to be honestly offensive. She brushes it off as sheltering and full of fear. However, she sets up a straw man through using examples that support her position. If Christian parents are afraid to have a LGBTQ person into their home, read what she says, because she's right. BUT, if your concern is about safety and toxic people and those who would prey on your children that's a completely different matter. For example, a little girl we were frequently bringing into our home was actively attacking my daughter and trying to get her in trouble and make her do things she shouldn't do, then lie and say they were her idea. There are many, many times this sort of thing has happened during my efforts at hospitality, and I would love for a mom whose been there to give me direction and not tell me I'm not trusting the covenant enough. Like, really, what do I do? I think I ask someone else in my church to reach out to that little girl and her family and protect my daughter but... again, I would love direction on this.

    - I wish she had given concessions to seasons of life. She put her schedule in there with no caveats or clarifications or even saying that "I haven't always operated on this level." Her youngest is 11, and several of her children are already saved and can join into this ministry with her. For me, my oldest just turned five and I have two toddler boys. None of them can help in any significant way with the hospitality and prep. In fact, after we are finished with hospitality I have to work really hard to reassure them and reconnect with them and deal with whatever difficult stuff happened while we were being hospitable that I was not able to address at the time. I wish she had given concession to people being in different places.

    - Perhaps most disturbing of all, and my only theological concern, was her take on headship. In her words, headship is a result of the fall and is needed because of sin. I HIGHLY disagree.

    - Ultimately, I think this book would have benefited from a better editor. There were spelling mistakes and a lot of organization and flow problems and a lot of saying things too narrowly or saying things too broadly and not explaining what she meant. A lot of the paragraphs left me wondering what she was saying exactly.

    I hope no one finds this review harsh. I love Mrs. Butterfield's ministry and her other books and deeply respect her. But, as someone who is very involved in hospitality I was hoping this book would motivate, challenge, encourage, and comfort. For me, it didn't do any of those things. It felt like a whole lot of "try harder, do better" and "do it like me." Since I can't and I'm not her, it was defeating. Honestly, I didn't find much of the gospel made available for me in this book. I found a lot of law.

  • Jeremy

    Read 5 myths about hospitality

    . Hospitality is a

    .

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  • Kelly Sauskojus

    This book floored me. Rosaria Butterfield casts a beautiful image of Christian home as ministry through ordinary, daily hospitality. She strikes the perfect balance between practical details and lovely well-read writing. This book will be affecting me for years to come.

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