One of the things a pastor and his family should regularly do is exercise hospitality. Each year my wife and I would go through our church’s directory and make a rough plan that outlined when we would invite various families over to the house. But the reality of church life is, as the pastor, you need to show kindness and hospitality to everyone in the church. You don’t have the freedom to play favorites. If you invite only certain people over to your home, you’ll inevitably create an “in crowd” that will leave the rest of the church wondering why they’re second-class citizens.
But truth be told, it’s not easy inviting everyone over to your home, and I’m not just talking about numbers, i.e., the logistics of inviting large numbers of people. I’m talking about the various reasons why it’s not fun to have certain people over. For example, some people are obnoxious and only talk about themselves, or they constantly dominate the conversation. Others are so shy, getting them to talk is like trying to mine diamonds—you constantly have to ask questions to which you only get the smallest of one-word answers followed by awkward silence. Let’s face it, there are many reasons why it’s difficult to interact with some people in your congregation. So what are you to do?
My wife and identified the challenging people (this was something that we definitely kept to ourselves) and then invited a “bounce couple” or two in addition to the tough people. What’s a bounce couple? “Bounce couple,” is the term that I used when we needed to identify a couple that was mature, good with people, and were good conversationalists. I called them “bounce couples” (you can also have a “bounce person,” for the one who’s single) because you could bounce ideas, conversation, and people off of them. When we invited the shy person over, for example, the presence of another couple would create a livelier atmosphere, provide someone else to contribute to the conversation, and help draw the person in.
All of this is to say, you need to show hospitality to everyone in your church, but you can do so with the help of others. And you need not tell your bounce couple that they are serving the “bounce” role. Simply invite them over and enjoy the fellowship. Having a number of bounce couples on your “roster” can make showing hospitality a whole lot easier and enjoyable, and it takes a lot of the pressure off you and your family. You can even ask your bounce couple to bring a salad or desert! This principle also works for non-pastor types!