The Blessings of an Open Door Policy

The knocking stops me in my tracks as I hear a friendly, “Hey there!” coming from the front patio. As I reach the screen door I see two smiling faces. I open the door to my dear friends and greet them as they begin to apologize, “Sorry for stopping by unannounced… we were just out on a walk…”

open door policyThere seems to be some unwritten rule in our culture these days that makes “just stopping by” such a faux pas. Why is that?

We can’t control who knocks on our front door, but we can assess our own hearts on the matter.

Are we so consumed with our own daily tasks that we assume others are as well? Are we uncomfortable with the thought of being caught with a messy house so we don’t want to do the same to a neighbor? Are we afraid of visiting without a formal invitation because we expect the same of others?

I’m here to today to challenge this mindset.

It’s time to re-create our homes with a new policy, an intentional one of loving others with the love of Jesus through our open front door. Because having this mentality begs for authentic community with those whom we have around us– friends, neighbors, family members.

An open door policy isn’t a burden; it’s a blessing.

How can this lifestyle bless us you ask? Here are a few of the ways I can think of.

  • spontaneous opportunities for ministry and discipleship
  • getting to know neighbors better
  • offering a safe, welcoming place for those who need it
  • creating a home environment to which our kids want to bring their friends
  • short moments of encouragement to lift each other’s spirits (even just a “hello, I was thinking of you while out on my walk!” can really bless someone)
  • a chance to model authentic living to others and to invite openness in our friendships

Now I don’t literally mean we have to leave the door wide open on a daily basis (inviting in all the flies and june bugs), but rather we can simply change the intentions of our heart and the culture of our home a bit– here are a few suggestions on how.

Crafting an open-door mindset in our hearts and in our homes

1. The first place to start is with our own homes. Let’s begin by letting others know that our door is indeed always open for whatever they might need, whether that’s a smiling face, a bit of advice or encouragement, or even a spontaneous playdate or walk.

2. Let’s stop worrying about what people think of us. So what if there are school books piled all over the table and matchbox cars spread out on the rug? This is real life, and authenticity breeds vulnerability.  Isn’t that what we want in our relationships? Don’t miss out on a meaningful conversation because you were afraid to let someone in and see your dirty dishes.

3. But let’s also be aware of our space. Maybe creating this mindset in our hearts will encourage us to clean-as-we-go. And let’s use this opportunity to train our kids in putting things away as we finish using them and doing a quick speed-clean-up every now and then for a reset.

4. Be prepared. Figure out what your priorities are for being hospitable and then plan accordingly. Maybe you want to simply make sure you have some coffee and tea hanging around in case a neighbor drops by and ends up staying to chat. Or maybe you want to have a special basket of toys you only pull out when guests are around to occupy the kids while you engage in adult conversation.

It all starts in the heart. God calls us to be missional (Matt. 28: 19-20) and also to be hospitable (1 Peter 4:9)  and what better place to start than right on our own front porch.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Matthew 28:19-20

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  I Peter 4:9

If this strikes a chord with you, come visit my blog Gidget Goes Home where my series this month is 31 Days of Intentional Community.

Does the open door policy come natural to you or is it a challenge? What are some other blessings you see from this heart attitude or suggestions on implementing it? 

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Nicole can be found blogging at her lifestyle blog Gidget Goes Home, which usually reflects the things that make her happy: things like spending time with her Savior in the early morning, reading, sewing, making ice cream, taking pictures, watching baseball and going for walks with her hubby and three little kiddos (the eldest of which is homeschooled). She loves the beach and anything handmade and is affectionately known as a bit of a hippie among family and friends.

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Comments

  1. We have an open door policy, and I tell people to please stop by any time. So far, in a year and a half, nobody has ever taken me up on that. It’s kinda depressing.
    Alena@TheHomemadeCreative recently posted..A Temporary Farwell, and a StoryMy Profile

    • Well, you’ve at least got your heart in the right place by telling people that they are welcome! Have you tried dropping by on your friends or neighbors to say hi or encourage them? Maybe take some of your neighbors some cookies or something and then remind them that your door is always open if they need something. <3
      Nicole Bennett recently posted..Day 29: The blessings of an open-door policyMy Profile

      • Mmm, cookies is a good idea. Thanks! I’ve done that with a couple of friends, and it goes well on their end (though one friend asked what she owed me for the mini-muffins I brought, lol – um, nothing?). Just doesn’t come back the other way. I grew up in Montana, and now live in Illinois, and I’m wondering if the famous “midwestern reserve” is responsible?
        Alena@TheHomemadeCreative recently posted..A Temporary Farwell, and a StoryMy Profile

  2. Just this week I was brave and packed cupcakes up to take to a friend for her birthday, we dropped in and surprised her with them and ending up staying most of the day. It was the most rewarding thing I’ve done in a long time and also, it was hard. It took me out of my comfort zone but I want to do that more. As well as be okay with people dropping in here, it is the raw realness of life that makes relationships beautiful amidst the blocks and floors that need sweeping.
    Thanks for this encouragement, Nicole. I really appreciated/needed it. =)
    Breanne recently posted..Day 29 and 30:: Be WiseMy Profile

  3. It made me happy to read this and think of my neighborhood. We are so lucky to live with many like minded families who also enjoy spontaneous play dates and afternoon tea. Great reminders to open our hearts to community.
    Emily @ Random Recycling recently posted..Monday Meal Plan Oct 28thMy Profile

  4. I used to be open-door, but now have frequent migraines. So, please, people, leave me alone!

    I guess, I think it’s key to be aware of where the other person is at. I also have “give me five minutes’ warning” friends, where they enjoy a call-ahead to make sure everyone in the house is dressed and not, say, throwing up.

  5. I like this. We have an “open door” policy in our house too and people do stop by. It is a blessing. I just be sure to let people know, what you see is what you get. It may be a hot mess in my house when you stop over, but if you’re ok with it, I am too.
    ~FringeGirl
    Tricia @ The Domestic Fringe recently posted..Instagram: Life in PhotosMy Profile

  6. I could not agree with you more, Nicole! We often leave our front door open in the mild weathered months and have neighbors that pop in all the time. Yes, it’s messy around here with 2 kids but it’s real. And because I crave the real in people, I have to be real, too.

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