The next qualification for ministry is that an elder should be “given to hospitality”. The Greek word is xenophile which means a lover of foreigners. Elders should be able to show hospitality, welcome and kindness to people no matter their background.
In the Tree of Life Network, all our elders have to open their houses once a week and show kindness to people – worship with them, pray with them, encourage them, challenge them, inspire them, disciple them. Why? Because that is part of being a leader. If you are not taking people with you on the journey, you are not a leader – you are just someone going for a walk.
So all elders have to be able to show hospitality. But the word goes deeper than that – it means given to hospitality for foreigners – people from different backgrounds, ages, cultures, nationalities. Some churches divide their small groups up on cultural lines or national lines – but how are people going to learn wisdom if they only hang around people just like them? It’s crazy! It’s like getting a splinter in your foot and trying to get it out with your other foot! You need a body part that is different to solve the problems you cannot solve. You need people who are older, younger, from different backgrounds, genders and cultures in the church so that we can learn from each other! So we can develop.
The problem is that which is different can scare us, and in our arrogance we can think anything different has to be worse – because of course we are doing it right, and everyone else is doing it wrong. We need to be free from fear and prideful prejudice to be an elder in the church – because the church is so so so much bigger than people just like us!