Last weekend I had the privilege of leading worship at The Journey North, a growing and dynamic church near Brainerd, Minnesota.

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The worship team I brought included my wife Terese (a great musician and singer), Brianna (a gifted worship leader), and Adam (a talented drummer). It was a fantastic weekend, and we were all incredibly blessed to be part of The Journey North’s worship and fellowship.

A few weeks ago I started making calls to arrange for overnight lodging for our team during our time at the Journey North. As I began, I prayed and repeatedly felt led to contact Rob, a good friend of mine who oversees a fishing retreat ministry. I remembered that Rob’s parents had a house somewhere in the area. Both of them had recently passed away, so I was hesitant to call and ask Rob about the possibility of staying there. After a couple calls about other housing options I worked up the courage to ask Rob about staying at his parents’ house.  I haltingly inquired if the house would be available for us for one night as we would be leading worship both on Saturday evening and three times on Sunday morning.  Rob immediately said yes, and later told me he would also be there to host us during our stay.

Right after the Saturday evening service Mark Bjorlo, the Lead Pastor of The Journey North and a cherished former colleague of mine, invited us out to dinner at a local restaurant.  It wasn’t just any restaurant, but a NICE one with gourmet salads and legendary prime rib. During dinner we all shared wedding and engagement stories, laughed, prayed, and ate great food together.  I soaked in each moment and cherished the hospitality that Mark and the church displayed to our entire team and two other guests who were with us.

Later that evening we followed Rob as he drove to his parents’ house, which sat in a beautifully wooded area on the banks of a gently flowing river only ten minutes from the church. Our rooms were beautiful and the setting magnificent. In addition to the carefully laid out towels and bedding, Rob had also prepared a Dutch apple pie for us.  We stayed up late, recounting both funny and poignant ministry stories.   When we arose early the next morning, Rob made coffee and breakfast for everyone.  We were all humbled and honored to spend time with our friend who allowed us to stay in this beautiful place that held so many fond memories of his family.

As we were leaving, Rob gently told me, “My parents would be so happy that you stayed here.”  

I will long remember those words.

Later I reflected on Rob’s gift of hospitality and thought, “ I’m sure God is very pleased as well.”  Rob, I hope you’re reading this because it’s true.

During the Sunday services Ryan Clair, the Journey North’s talented worship pastor, brought us a tray of banana bread, cheese, and crackers.  This was yet another act of pure love and hospitality, as none of us asked for or expected such an extravagant gift.

Our worship team went to Baxter, Minnesota to serve God and the Journey North Church in worship ministry.  In the process, we were blessed and LAVISHED with love, lodging, and food.

It occurs to me that hospitality is both an act of worship and a fruit of a life given over to God in worship.

The Apostle Peter put it this way:

“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.  Cheerfully share your home
with those who need a meal or a place to stay.”
1 Peter 4:8-9

Showing hospitality isn’t always easy. Opening our homes, providing food and lodging for others often requires time, effort, and even financial sacrifice…just like authentic worship.

But when it’s done in Jesus, to God, and for the benefit of other people, showing hospitality puts our love for God on display.

That’s exactly what worship is: putting our love for God on display. It’s an extravagant offering that never goes unnoticed, for God watches and smiles when we tell our guests…

 “I’m sure our Father is happy that you stayed here.”

God bless you!

Chris Atkins