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Open Heart, Open Home: The Hospitable Way to Make Others Feel Welcome & Wanted

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  243 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Can a simple dinner party for the neighbors change the world? Karen Mains says, "Yes!" And in Open Heart, Open Home she shows how. In this classic on Christian hospitality, Karen Mains steps far beyond how-to-entertain hints to explore a biblical and spiritual approach to using your home to care for others. This approach to hospitality can literally transform the fabric of ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 5th 2002 by InterVarsity Press (first published December 1st 1980)
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May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
This modern Christian classic (written originally in 1973) was a treasure trove of wisdom for today. (Anecdotal evidence of its staying power: several friends with whom I talked about it said, "Oh, I think my mom has that book somewhere.")

My biggest takeaway was that pride stands in the way of true hospitality--we fail to invite, to welcome because our home may not be perfectly decorated or tidy, we fear what others may think of us, we must work hard to impress before we can open our doors. Main
Lesley Webster
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
love, love, love this book. it is such a beautifully written call to genuine hospitality. none of this "make sure your house is clean" crap. instead it talks about what you do when someone stops by and the house is a wreck. (throw open the door, invite them in, do not make them self-concious by apologizing, and take that opportunity for genuine loving ministry.) it talks about the difference between entertaining guests (which is focused on you and your posessions and how good you look) and servi ...more
May 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book a long time ago, but it has stayed with me.
There was a period in my life when I was given the opportunity to practice what was radical hospitality for me. One night my boss called me up a bit frantically. That evening she had treated a mutual friend and coworker to an opera. But it was very late, too late for our friend to make the two hour drive back to her home. However my boss, fraught with strange insecurities, did not feel her own home was a suitable place to entertain her
Karen L.
Jan 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: women
This book changed my view of hospitality and changed my life. Since reading it we have welcomed more people into our humble home than many with large homes! We have shown others our real lives and not shown a perfectly neat home continuously. We show them we LIVE in our home! It has been quite humbling, but hopefully fruitful.
Rebecca Lewitt
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: faith
This was surprisingly very good. I had expected sort of a nice little christian "table-setting" book. Instead it was basically a really good exposition of what it means to live the Christian life! In talking about hospitality she gives the best description I've ever read of what it means to walk in the Spirit; she makes a very good case for the home being the real place that evangelism and local church body building should take place. She adresses how to live out the Christian life of love with ...more
Aug 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
A practical and refreshing perspective on biblical hospitality.
Feb 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is the gold standard on the subject of Christian hospitality. I first read it in 1982 when I was just learning to exercise the gift of hospitality, and Karen Mains stimulated me to go beyond the basic dinner invitation. I learned to take risks, to welcome strangers to the table, to provide bed and breakfast for all kinds of interesting people. This thoroughly Biblical and beautifully written book will stimulate the desire to throw open the door of your heart and home to others, to get ...more
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book was written in 1976 - and still is fresh, speaking to the heart of Christian hospitality. "nothing is lovelier to me than filling our lives with people we love: with our children and families, with neighbors, with Christian friends. Upon making new acquaintances my first instinct is to bring them home; to flood our home and lives with humanity--its voices, its forms, its ideas, its beauty, its brokenness." Her best advice: invite freely, ask people to bring whatever they want, and don' ...more
Sep 24, 2008 is currently reading it
I'm convicted to allow others to see Christ thought me, even if it means seeing my untidy home. It reminds us that pride hinders the Spirit, even when it comes to homemaking. I'll rate it when I'm done. ...more
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I like to reread this book to remind myself that I need to share what the Lord has given me. Friends, health, shelter, and all the little things that make a home. To share is to bless others and I know God likes that.
Oct 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent book. I stumbled across it in the bibliography of Rosaria Butterfield's The Gospel Comes with a House Key . It is evident that Mains' ideas impacted Butterfield's, as there are many similar themes throughout both books. Still, I enjoyed reading Open Heart, Open Home, as Mains has a different perspective and writing style, and included many ideas (along with practicalities) that Butterfield did not reiterate in her book.

The first two thirds of the book is focused primarily
Denise Kettering
Mar 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: spirituality
Despite the fact that this book was written in 1976, there are still some valuable reminders about what Christian hospitality looks like in this book. In particular, Karen Mains urges readers to open up to opportunities for hospitality despite all the reasons that there are not too (a messy house, children running around, limited resources, feelings of inadequacy, etc.). She tackles each of these issues both by addressing why Christians should more fully embrace hospitality as a Christian discip ...more
Nov 28, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: adult, did-not-finish
I'm not entirely sure how this book ended up on my bookshelf. But it was in my pile of books on hospitality, so I pulled it out with the others this month. Almost from the beginning, it felt a little off, in ways I can't quite describe (and have neither the time nor the energy to go digging to pull them out point by point)... so I checked out the author, and discovered she has some shall we say questionable theology in her other works, so I feel happy to toss this one on the did-not-finish-and-w ...more
Susan Marrier
Despite pretty big differences in theology, and having to ignore gender-non-inclusive language, I still found this book inspiring and well worth re-visiting. It's all about both individuals and communities of faith learning how to be open and radically welcoming. Ms. Mains shares wisdom from her own experience, and practical as well as spiritual suggestions for building community and truly serving others. I'll probably return to it again. ...more
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book from my mum's collection that's full of gems and I've finally come back to finish. Lots of great points about the importance of transformative hospitality which is so essential to Christianity, and the sharing of our (real, complicated, messy...) lives, rather than just trying to impress guests with a dinner party. ...more
Aug 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
Less practical advice than I was expecting, more encouragement to spend time in prayer and meditation. Some of the language and concepts were appropriately sensitive and discerning when the book was written but are a bit iffy now.
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: life-enriching
Everything she writes is worth reading. She makes you think more deeply - dive in and experience life at a deeper level.
Apr 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Quite an inspiring and challenging book on the christian virtue of hospitality. I would read it again and again.
Educational Anarchist
Oct 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
The author and I have some pretty big theological differences, but there is still so much wisdom to be gleaned here. She really changed my view of what "hospitality" even means. She does encourage throwing dinners and teas and all that, but she also reminds us that just showing kindness and being welcoming to your neighbors' children, or allowing a friend's child to leave muddy footprints in your new van while you gift them with transportation, is being hospitable. There are so many ways we can ...more
Dec 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Delightful book filled with stories, tips, and hope that we too can learn to think adventurously, discover that hospitality is not what we have, but what we are!

Jesus set a beautiful example in hospitality. Bread for thousands from a few loaves, wine from water, disabilities turned into opportunities. To All who came, Jesus gave Himself, rest for the weary, food for the hungry, water for the thirsty.
Feb 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, excellent book. Am getting ready to re-read. So simple and yet not. It says in a nutshell, "have people over, enjoy them, enjoy each other. Let God's love flow." Talks well about balance doing this. Recommended by a friend, and read through with another friend (both of us greatly positively impacted)! ...more
Gerald Thomson
Jan 12, 2014 rated it liked it
A wonderful reminder that all we are given is to be used to advance God’s kingdom. Though mostly about hospitality, the book goes deeper into utilizing your spiritual gifts and resources. The hospitality sections are useful for everyone, encouraging all to show God’s love through acts of kindness and sensitivity.
Lauren Leith
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was surprisingly sharp and convicting in all the right ways. Based on the cover I thought it would be super cheesy but it is not at all. Instead it is full of gracious and beautiful stories spoken with conviction. It really helped me in growing towards being a better steward of my home and showing better hospitality.
Mystie Winckler
Aug 06, 2011 rated it really liked it

From principles such as beginning and continuing in the Spirit, to being hospitable to your own immediate family first, to opening your door to strangers and the needy, to practical ideas and encouragement, this book covers a lot of ground in a short space.
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian
I really enjoyed this book on hospitality. Karen does a great job showcasing how hospitality can look in different settings, it's not just about having fancy dinner parties. It has really helped me change my perspective from day to day, and find more opportunities to have a hospitable spirit. ...more
Mar 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Martha Stewart meets entertaining at home with Christian flair. Much more focus on the religious attitude than on the entertaining side though. Takes away some of the concerns about hosting poorly too.
Tracee Easterlin
Mar 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Very encouraging if you desire true hospitality! There is a marked difference between that and entertainment. I desire hospitality!
Apr 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book was a staple for me when I was a young wife and craved knowledge about entertaining and welcoming people into our home. It inspires the reader to love and cherish others, not impress them.
Apr 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book on hospitality, and what it means to use one's home and resources to reach out to fellow christians and nonbelievers alike. I've read this book 3 times in the last 4 years. ...more
Sep 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spiritual-growth
As a young pastor's wife, this book had a huge impact on me. It gave me permission to be myself and not pretend to be the stereotypical pastor's wife that so many seemed to expect me to be. ...more
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I'm now also in Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/karen.burton...., talk to you there... Thank you!

And I'm actively blogging at http://blog.karenmains.com


For decades, Karen Mains, a prolific writer and gifted communicator, has offered her talents, as well a

News & Interviews

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53 likes · 11 comments
“Hospitality, however, seeks to minister. It says, "This home is not mine. It is truly a gift from my Master. I am His servant and I use it as He desires." Hospitality does not try to impress, but to serve.” 12 likes
“Secular entertaining is a terrible bondage. Its source is human pride. Demanding perfection, fostering the urge to impress, it is a rigorous taskmaster which enslaves. In contrast, Scriptural hospitality is a freedom which liberates.” 6 likes
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