Dinner Church- An Invitation to the Gospel16 Then Jesus[a] said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. 17 At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ 20 Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ 23 Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. Luke 14:16-23
The concept of welcoming people from differing backgrounds and economic realities through an open table is not new to our generation. The theology of “divine hospitality” is found throughout both the Old and New Testaments. It was from a table that Moses and the Elders were called to Mount Sinai to ratify God’s covenant with them. In the New Testament, we find gathering around a table to be at the very heart of the Gospel. Twenty percent of the Jesus’ teachings were about the Kingdom of God, including the scripture above found in Luke, Chapter 14. When we come together with people from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities, education levels, socio economic and we truly welcome the stranger, we are living witnesses of the Kingdom of God.
During the Evangelism Summit, Dr. Jon Davis from Fresh Expressions provided us with a passionate presentation on the importance of starting a Dinner Church within your congregation. He reminded us, “We do potlucks well… this isn’t a stretch for church people.” Jon told the of how his local congregation of 40 had started a Dinner Church, where they sent out invitations to their community and they had 65 people show up the very first night. I encourage you to go and to watch Jon’s video to learn more about Dinner Church. Evangelism Summit Videos
To understand the theology and the practical applications of Dinner Church, please check out the book “Dinner Church, Building Bridges by Breaking Bread,” by Verlon Fosner. The book can be purchased through Cokesbury here https://www.cokesbury.com/9781628244205-Welcome-to-Dinner-Church
The Smith Center for Evangelism is here to help you dream and plan for the launch of Dinner Church in your community. We even have grants to help you get the new faith community up and off the ground. No matter the size of your congregation, please feel free to reach out to us for information on how we might be able to provide assistance. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A special thank you to everyone who came out on Saturday for the Summit and for our hosts. May Christ be Magnified in all that we do.
Dr. Leah Hidde-Gregory