By Melissa Nugent
I still remember standing in the kitchen, surrounded by dishes, leftover food and a house that needed to be put back together again. I was exhausted, and the little voices I heard down the hallway told me that the kids were still awake. How did I end up here? Why had I said yes to hosting a leadership event in our home that evening?
As a tired mom of young children, I wanted to know I was seen, needed and valued. I still longed to participate in the hustle and bustle of ministry activities that had filled my pre-kid days and nights. And yet, it was clear that more adjustments needed to be made.
Acts 2:46 tells us that the early believers “broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” I was certainly serving more than just bread, but I wanted to be able to welcome students into our home with a glad and sincere heart. And it just wasn’t happening.
After some prayer, a conversation with Ben and an idea (I can’t remember…perhaps sparked by another Navigator mom!), we came up with a simple framework for hosting future student events in our home: the Hosting Triangle. When I envisioned hosting ministry events in our home, there were three main components that required my attention: planning and preparing the food, interacting with the students and caring for our children. I could only realistically do two of these three for any event.
For each upcoming event, Ben and I would sit down and determine what our priorities were. Was home-cooked food a priority? Then we needed to either hire a babysitter to watch the kids, or I needed to plan to focus on the kids and not the students that evening. Was my interaction with the students the highest value? Then we needed to cater the food (maybe order pizza, buy bakery desserts, or ask our church small group to make the food), so I had enough margin to help the kids as well as have a good conversation or two. I have known Navigator moms (including me!) who spend all their energy on cooking a magnificent meal, only to find they are then too tired to engage when the students actually arrive. My experience has been that students appreciate the interaction with me much more than they remember what I cooked for them.
Although my kids are now older, and we don’t host as many events in our home as we once did, this mental framework still helps us. We still talk through questions about why we want to host a particular event, what we want to focus on, and what we can let go. Over the years there have been times that we really wanted to provide home-cooked food, and times when interaction with people was the priority instead. We always want our kids to feel included and a part of events in our home, so we try to invite them into the conversation and preparation as well.
As you think ahead to ministry events in your home for the rest of the school year, I encourage you to sit down with your husband and talk through the Hosting Triangle. What would it look like for you to welcome students into your home with a glad and sincere heart like the early believers did? Which two components are the top priorities for you? And how can you creatively cover the remaining piece?
Melissa and her husband Ben have been on Navigator staff for 18 years, and married for 20. They have two children in elementary school. They love the beauty of Colorado, deepening relationships in their neighborhood, and they are passionate about raising up generations of disciplemakers!