Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Pop-In

A long time ago, in a Seinfeld episode far, far from recent memory, Jerry had a discourse on "the pop in," the description for an unplanned visit by a friend or family member. Jerry said he hated the pop in, but George and Elaine both loved it. In reality, the pop in was what made the show; if it weren't for Jerry's friends constantly being at his place, the show would have been limited to establishing the character's rapport through their shared meals at Mort's Diner, and it would have quickly devolved from a show about nothing to a show about waitress and food jokes.

I personally love the pop in. One of my favorite parts about living in the dorms in college for all four years was that people would constantly drop by and hang out. Nobody needed an excuse to come over, or had to call first before stopping in - they just walked through the doorway, plopped down on the couch, and sometimes said "What's happening?" As a result, our dorm had a very close community of which I have many fond memories.

I welcome that level of hospitality today - I want people to treat my house like theirs, and feel free to stop by for a visit no matter the hour or occasion, with no need to call first. I love it when people want to come over. Similarly, I love people who treat their houses the same way, who I know I could visit if I had a free afternoon or evening and they'd be happy I dropped by.

Unfortunately, that's not our culture, or at least it's not most people's culture. Why is that, I wonder? Some people just don't like visitors, feeling that their home is their fortress of solitude, the one place they're free from other people. Some people take pride in having the reputation of a completely organized person whose house is always spotless, so they only have visitors when they've had a chance to clean the house from top to bottom, which ends up being seldom if ever, and then only for "special" guests. Other people take pride in having a house that provides an appearance of wealth, and until they finish redoing that kitchen or can buy that new living room set, they don't want people to see their current standard of living. Still others take pride in being a doting host, who waits on their guest's every need, which can be a physically or emotionally draining task.

Christians are called to hospitality, and I think that means not only being open to visitors at any hour, but also encouraging them to come. There's no better way to show love to your brothers and sisters and to enjoy their fellowship than by bringing them into your house. The same goes for unbelievers - there are few better ways to show someone you care about them and are interested than to invite them to your place. Granted, there are limits - you shouldn't have to give up your every waking moment of privacy, and you shouldn't become a permanent fixture at the home of someone either, showing up right when the oven timer dings. Take the initiative today - invite people over to your house. Don't feel the need to have things be perfect, or to wait on their every wish, just take a step of faith and see how God can use it to bless you and draw you closer to your Christian siblings.


  1. Great blog from a single man!

    I love the pop-in! We found when we moved to the PNW people here don't practice hospitality, especially the pop-in. When we were getting close to a family, we asked how they felt about pop-in company, because it's common in the midwest. They looked very uncomfortable and said, "No, we prefer you call first." If I dropped off something at their house, I'd never be invited in. It took several years before we were invited to their home. Sad to say, our friendship never grew, and neither did our fellowship.

    A life-changing line I read, "Hopsitality before pride."

  2. I crave a friend like that in this area. Our families will occasionally drop in but we see them all at meeting 3 times a week anyway so the need for visiting isn't as needed. I've had two girlfriends that I tried my hardest to open my home up to and encourage visits but it was in both situations a one-way invite... and as Mindy said, the friendships never grew.

    I love close friends but it seems that my close friends feel they need to live in MN, IA & WA! :)

    I feel a little hurt by friends who don't let me see their unfinished homes or a home they are ashamed of because it's small or old. I didn't come to judge you or your home, I came to visit you! Good grief, John, you've seen all my homes, apartments that were...yeah... and now this little house. It's not the house that makes the memories though, it's the people in it! Some people are just not comfortable letting people that close into their lives.
    I am a friend who wants to be open with my life and my home is where I am the most me.

    Hospitality before it!

    PLEASE COME VISIT US! We'd do our best to give you the best time. :)

  3. Thanks for sharing both of your thoughts! I like that phrase, Mindy - it really encompasses the idea in a nutshell. Tan, I also liked your remark "my home is where I am the most me" - that's so true for a lot of people, and it's probably why hospitality brings so many benefits (and why some people are very uncomfortable with it, too).