Resources for Teaching Civic Hospitality in a Time of Polarization

How can we affirm truth, nurture faith, and still live well in society amid deep differences? Explore free lesson plans for teaching civic engagement grounded in the practice of Christian hospitality.

"What does faith have to do with civics?"
“What should we do about
deep disagreements?”
“Is there hope for our society?”

Dive into a topic area to find resources for your classroom

Hospitality Icon


What are the biblical and theological roots of a Christian focus on hospitality? What does hospitality mean in a Christian context, and why was table fellowship so important to Jesus? How does the practice of Christian hospitality relate to tolerance?

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How is our engagement with others in civic spaces related to our basic ideas about human beings? What makes us who we are, and how does the image of God in humans relate to our diversity? How might our view of other humans affect our reactions when we disagree?

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How to we listen to stories about others, and how do we tell stories about them? How are our biases reflected in the stories about others that make the most sense to us? How can we honor others better in the stories we hear and tell?

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What if thinking and talking about hospitality is not enough? What kind of people would we need to become to be able to practice hospitality to others well? What postures and gestures might we need to practice until they become part of us?

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How do we think decisions should get made, and what does that reveal about how we are thinking about our relationship to others? How are our decisions affected by our context? How can we make decisions in ways that make space for others to be heard?

Case Study Icon

Case Study

What could we learn from interviewing a local leader? How would we go about that? What kinds of questions should we ask, what kinds of postures should we exhibit, and how could our encounter embody hospitality?

What is the Civic Hospitality Project? image

What is the Civic Hospitality Project?

The Civic Hospitality Project was created by the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics and the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning with the aim of developing an approach to civics education and civic engagement rooted in the practice of Christian hospitality.

Learn More

While it is true that many need a civics refresher, there is an even greater need for the cultivation of civic hospitality. These materials thoughtfully and creatively help students become agents who grow in neighbor love expressed by Christian generosity toward all fellow human beings. I hope this valuable resource achieves wide distribution.

Professor of Theology and Director of the
Center for Applied Christian Ethics, Wheaton College
Vincent Bacote

With biblically saturated content, foundational theological principles, and practical, real-world examples, this curriculum immerses students in a faith-filled vision of civic hospitality. Offering a needed posture for our polarized and fractured society, it provides an opportunity for robust formation in both thought and action, and drives students to enact and embody their learning in the public square.

Assistant Professor of Religion and Theology, Redeemer University
Jessica Joustra

This curriculum is well thought-out and executed. I have no doubt that students (and teachers!) will learn much from it. It provides both overarching structures for reflecting on and engaging political topics from the vantage point of civic hospitality. Further, there are practical practices for honing important skills for navigating political difference. I heartily recommend the curriculum.

Author of learning resources on faith and politics for The Colossian Forum
Rob Barrett

Frequently asked questions

Learn more about this resource, how you can use it, and how to find related resources by browsing our FAQ.

Who developed this resource?

This resource arose from a partnership between the Paul B. Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics and the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning. The mission of the Henry Institute is to promote serious reflection on the interplay between Christianity and public life. The Kuyers Institute seeks to support equally serious reflection on the ways in which Christian faith can inform teaching and learning. Both Institutes are located at Calvin University, a Christian liberal arts university located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The mission of Calvin University is to equip students to think deeply, to act justly, and to live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world. We recruited Christian educators from various parts of north America to help develop the resource. You can read more about our team here.

Who wrote the lesson plans? 

We recruited experienced Christian educators from various parts of North America to help develop the resource. They developed the lesson plans in consultation with Christian scholars specializing in education, political science, and theology. The lessons were also tested in a range of schools and reviewed by scholars from other universities and organizations. You can read more about our team here.

Will more lessons be available in the future? 

The purpose of this project was to provide teachers with a new way to think about civics teaching and to provide enough lesson plans to start implementing the approach. We hope that the lessons provided will encourage you to add your own ideas as you teach the rest of your civics curriculum. We do not anticipate adding further lesson plans here in the near future.

Can these materials replace my civics curriculum? 

There are certainly many connections between the activities in this resource and typical civics topics and curricular standards, so you should be able to integrate these lessons into your civics teaching and serve existing curricular goals. However, this website is not intended to provide a whole civics curriculum, nor were the lessons designed to cover all of the topics typically included in a civics curriculum. We recommend that these lessons be interwoven with your existing resources to add a more rigorous faith-informed dimension to your teaching about public life.

Is there a cost for using the materials? 

There is no cost for using the materials for personal teaching, study, and research. Everything is free for use with students or in professional development contexts. You can make as many copies of the provided handouts as you need for your students, and you can post the materials that students need to your class’s online platform for their use. If you’d like to share an activity with another teacher, we would love it if you would point them here to this site. If you are interested in using any of the materials in a published work, such as another website or a published curriculum, please contact us.