Return to the Table

As I work with churches who are struggling I have discovered a common theme. Many have forgotten about the power of the table. Most often they are not eating together. Potlucks, breakfasts, small group table fellowship….nothing, or so sporadically it is easy to forget. We spend vast amounts of time and energy trying to creatively engage in our communities, yet have forgotten about the basics of table fellowship, and simply engaging one another. We need to rediscover the power of food to draw us together in love and prayer.

Breaking bread and eating together is something the early church was good at. Nowadays we have convinced ourselves that Communion on Sunday morning is “breaking bread and eating together”. It is not. It is a good start, but it is not what was meant in Acts 2 when it says they¬†“devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Breaking bread meant having a full meal, and that included breaking bread and communion.

Many of you know I am an Elk. But did you know that the Elks nationally have been a growing organization for the last two years? Actually 3 of the last 4 years have seen net growth. My local lodge has also been growing, with young members with children joining every month. This is at the same time my churches have struggled for relevance. What’s the difference? While there are a number of things going on I’m sure, let’s talk about the food. There is an amazing amount of “church” that I see happening when the kitchen is simply open and table fellowship emerges between brothers and sisters.

What would it look like if every other Sunday was a potluck, and we met in the evening? What would our churches look like if once a month we ditched Sunday morning altogether, and had Sunday brunches from our homes – building from the family that is there, inviting all the neighbors and extended family too? What would it look like if we committed to the church kitchen just being OPEN and serving meals from 11am-2pm every Sunday and 5pm-8pm every Friday? Community would emerge. Relationships would develop. The groaning of hearts would be heard.

There is another piece of this table fellowship that is essential: INVITATION. Hebrews 13 reminds us not to forget the hospitality of strangers. Remember to invite someone. Be in a habit and a culture of hospitality. Often we do – we forget. But the power of the Table is here – to continually invite those who are far from God to follow you to the table, just as Jesus called you to follow him: “Come and sit with me.” This is how strangers become friends and how friends become family.

My prayer is that we reconnect with our spirits and we do that by reconnecting with our bodies – and feeding our bodies. Let the Holy Spirit move in and through you, your churches and communities, and let food open your hearts and reveal secrets.

-Matt