A dominant mantra against Homeschooling is the recurring question of socialization. “Won’t your child lack the social skills necessary to incorporate into society?” No. The problem in that question is the premise. Ah, the premise: kick the beast in the teeth before he can even bite! The question is not whether or not your child will be socialized. The real questions are, “What kind?” and “Is it real or false?”

In government education, your child will grow up surrounded by peers of the same age, which results in little or no experience relating intergenerationally. Nowhere else will an individual be surrounded by twenty people of the exact same age again. Therefore, such social skills are superfluous. Even worse, they will be pressured to engage in substance abuse, sexual deviancy, violence, and debauchery. Nevertheless, let’s hone in on what is usually meant by the lack of socialization: reclusive homes.

When antagonists raise questions about socialization for Homeschooled children, they are generally implying that it creates a withdrawn environment from all aspects of life. There are some families who withdraw, but the majority does not. Either way, we do need to be deliberate about engaging with others. Besides the interacting at museums, parks, and other public places, the primary way to build a family with open arms begins in the home itself. How is that?

The more hospitable and welcoming you become, the more lives you will touch, and the more lives that will impact you as well. Though a significant part of not forsaking the gathering of yourselves (Hebrews 10:25) is the formal gathering of the Church, there is also the crucial element of house-to-house fellowship. However, this is not always easy to accomplish if you are not used to having people in your home. After all, our society in general is not very communal because we have sought after more stuff that want give us joy, and we desire to be left alone, but, as Christians, we can and must cultivate a community of fellowship.

Here are some practical tips that help in opening up the home and overcoming the logistics challenges.

  • So you don’t have the ‘gift of hospitality.’  This is used in America all the time as a means to be reclusive and even selfish. It is true that God has gifted specific saints with this, but he has called all of us to serve and be hospitable. Meggan was not originally in my boat with hosting, so I gently nudged her and explained to her that everything doesn’t have to perfect to host. Besides, if your house is not perfect, it makes others more likely to host because their house is not immaculate either. We live in a very closed society, and we must break out of this unBiblical mold.
  • Have one family over at a time when possible. What we mean by that is this. When individual mothers can sit and talk with each other one on one, an environment of openness is much more likely to be created, and the same goes with fathers. This can also keep a conversation focused while also fostering depth. We are not limited to hosting one family at a time, and we enjoy having several families over together when we are able. However, when you host one family at a time, it helps you get to know people at a deeper level. This requires more time and energy because you have to open up your house on a regular basis, but it is worth it, and, remember, our goal is to pour our lives into one another in an effort to weave the body of Christ into the glorious Bride that She is. This cannot and will not happen if we keep our doors closed.
  • Foster meaningful conversation that goes deeper than mere small talk.  Engage each other spiritually by talking about how the Lord has impacted your life through prayer, providential acts, Bible reading, and extra Biblical literature.
  • Don’t gossip about your last guest or anyone for that matter. Truly, the same way and measure that we judge others, the same way and measure we will be judged (Matthew 7:1-5). We are all guilty of this, so use this time as a means of sanctification to change the subject by killing the deeds of the flesh. This is a time to exhort each other and not have roast pastor. It may seem tasty at the time, but it will turn into bitterness and judgment.
  • Start out small. If you’ve never hosted much, begin with maybe one family every two weeks or even a month. Changing a lifestyle is much like maintaining your weight. If you implement meaningful adjustments, then difficult things become easy. We try to have folks over two-three times a week, but it did not start out that way.
  • Nail down a date and time. When inviting someone over, don’t just ask, “Hey, we’d like to have you over some time,” because they usually respond with, “Yeah, we’d like to do that one day also.” It typically ends there, so try this instead. Know what your calendar is like for two or even three weeks ahead of time. Then say, “We would love to have you over next Friday or Saturday night around 7:00PM. Is that good? If not, when might you be available?” They may need to check their schedule and get back. If so, take the initiative and ask when they will know. This will make it easier to firm up a date with a quick phone call, text, or e-mail.
  • Maintain contact with your guest in a way that best suits them. What we mean by this is that some people are better by phone, some by e-mail, or some by texting. Whatever that is, then do that. We are not all the same, so we may need to communicate in ways that we normally do not. Put them first because it’s about selfless Christ-like service and not about our personal preferences.
  • Call a couple of hours beforehand just to make sure everything is squared away. In other words, this is your opportunity to drop a friendly reminder should someone forget amidst a busy day, and this may provide a means for you or your guests to modify the scheduled fellowship time if need be.
  • Get you children involved. Our kids love to set the table, stir big pots, and get things ready. They can’t do much now, but they are learning to make hospitality a lifestyle from the early stages of life.
  • Be gracious with children. After all, yours aren’t little angels either. Don’t feel embarrassed to discipline yours, for this will encourage others to keep theirs in line as well.
  • Create an ‘environment of obedience.’ A close friend of mine speaks of this often, and it generally means that we ought not create more temptations for children than they already have. Therefore, keep breakables and electrical devices above three feet when possible.
  • Put gates up near stairs for small children. This will make families of small children more likely to return when you invite them over again.
  • If your family is involved in too many extracurricular activities, then cut back. Not only will this open up more time to host, but it will also save money and prevent burnout.
  • Minimize clutter. This speeds up the cleaning process and reduces time needed to maintain a safe environment. Furthermore, this lifestyle keeps a house tidy and presentable, which prevents the mad dash that sometimes happens when folks drop by.  How our house is today is how it almost always looks when people come over.
  • My house or apartment is too little. In this case, it is especially important to minimize clutter and get rid of unnecessary tables, lamps, and a host of other objects that can crowd an otherwise hospitable room. Nevertheless, just host whom you can; God looks at the heart, and it is not a contest. Our home is not that large, so we usually have one family over at a time and sometimes two. Occasionally we have more than that, but that is only for key events.
  • Dad needs to step up, help prepare, and clean up. Don’t expect your wife to do EVERYTHING. This is especially important if you, like us, do not have older children who can contribute to the major chores that need to be done. Needless to say, if Dad doesn’t help out, then hosting will be minimized.
  • Share the meal cost. Politely ask your guest to bring a side or dessert. I have never had anyone get upset about this, especially if it is a large family coming over. Most just ask anyway.
  • Ask about food allergies. Some guests may have serious food allergies or a significant distaste for something. Be kind and ask; they are often very thankful that you took the time to find out.
  • Prepare inexpensive meals like spaghetti, chili, casseroles, soups, and salads. Leave out the more costly ingredients to diminish any large financial burden. Buy wholesale and chop up items yourself; this normally reduces costs significantly. We often freeze these types of large meals when possible and then thaw them out when people come over.
  • Don’t feel compelled to cook a full meal every time you have fellowship. Many times we simply have vegetables with dip, chips and salsa, or a light dessert. Remember, it’s about the fellowship, so don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • Prepare meals that stay warm should guests arrive late. Getting a family out the door is not always easy, and the last minute dirty diaper or spit up all over your clothes seems inevitable at times. Therefore, don’t badger your guests if they are a little late; they already know they are. After all, most breads like rolls, biscuits, and bread loaves bake quickly, so just pop them in the oven when everyone arrives. By the time you chit chat a little and give people time to take a breather, those delicious baked goods will be piping hot and ready to serve.
  • Take a week to take a break. If you’re like us, you have people over frequently. Fellowship becomes contagious, and many families that once hosted very little, do it all the time now. Like them, we always look forward to having people over, but sometimes you need a breather, so rest when you need it.

We love to host, and everyone has something to do before guests arrive and after they leave. A legacy of home fellowship is an extension of our Homeschool because Homeschooling isn’t just teaching algebra at home; rather, we are working to cultivate an environment of community and brotherhood. For this reason, hosting nudges both parents and children to become true servants of Christ by deliberately setting aside time for others ahead of ourselves.

For more insights into cultivating a Biblical Homeschool, check out Take ‘Em Out & Stay Out by Jeramy and Meggan Anderson.