In the publishing industry’s frenetic world of impending deadlines and whirlwind speaking tours, Shauna Niequist is an anomaly: a successful writer who’s dialing down instead of scaling up. Over the past six years, she’s released a series of well-received essay and story collections whose honesty and vulnerability have made her an in-demand author and speaker on everything from faith to family to frozen pizza. But where most people in her situation would be barreling ahead full-throttle, she’s pressing the brake pedal—and she’s doing it so she can have you over to her house and feed you.
Whether writing, speaking, or serving cheese and crackers to her home’s many guests, Niequist’s work is all about hospitality—a ministry that, according to her, is centered on “creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved.” And while much of her writing focuses on how hospitality can be lived out in the home and around the table, she’s thought a lot about how it impacts churches as well:
I always watch the way churches train. When I worked at a church in Michigan for a while, I oversaw all the people who were ushers and greeters, and we talked a lot about how [church] is your living room, and you’re opening your front door, and people don’t need to know where to go as much as they need to know that you see them and you’ll help them through an experience that feels sort of scary.It’s terrible that I can’t remember what church this is . . . but they have a whole volunteer role, and it’s women who are usually kind of grandma-aged. And if your family were to put your son in the children’s ministry for the first time, ...1