The table is a gift of God. It has special power to unite people and break down barriers! It can be simply reconnecting as a nuclear family at the dinner table, since life is busy and we’ve been running around in different directions all day. Or it could be an extended family gathering; the joy of seeing family that geography has separated us from but for a few days we get to eat together and play together. The unusually large gatherings around the table are always fun, exciting, and loud! Or perhaps it’s solidifying friendships or acquaintances (neighbours?) by inviting them to join you for a meal. We see the power of the table in Scripture too. It’s not unusual to find Jesus in somebody’s home, sitting around a table and sharing a meal (i.e. Matthew 9:10). He used that familiar place (dinner table) as a non-threatening way to build relationship and bring the Kingdom of God to people. We see that the early church followed in the footsteps of Jesus and used the home and table as a primary base for ministry as well (i.e. Acts 2:46; Acts 20:7).
Two weeks ago in our Sunday gathering I preached on how we as the Family of God are called to live according to our Father’s mission and purpose. As He sent Jesus, so Jesus sends us to continue his ministry and mission (John 20:21). How do we think we will best accomplish our commission to make disciples and be His witnesses?
I’m guessing your go-to answer (because it’s my natural default) is what we’ve been taught and inherited: #1) Events. We’ll plan an event at the church building and invite people to it. Hopefully they’ll ask a question, or want to come when they see how nice we are. Strategy #2) Invite a friend to “church”; by that we mean Sunday service. Come gather with a bunch of strangers in a big room, singing songs you don’t know, and hearing weird lingo. Now I’m somewhat exaggerating, and it’s okay to invite friends to church in hopes they’ll hear the gospel from the pastor (who is a stranger to them), and maybe they’ll like our music; God has, and can use that to bring people into the church. But that sounds like a crazy game plan when I put it that way, eh? Instead I would suggest we need to unlearn those ideas of mission. I think, looking at the way Jesus did it and the practice the early church had of meeting in homes, that our go-to for mission should be inviting others to join us as we gather as Family of God in the home.
The table is an effective “door” into the church because it is a common experience for all humanity. Whether you are a person of faith or not you regularly eat around a table. As such it is a comfortable, familiar place to introduce people of no faith to people of faith. This is a safe and unimposing place to expose them to the DNA of the family of God. Here they will witness our interaction, treating one another according to God’s ways, and hear about what it “looks like” to include God in the everyday of life.
Yesterday was the first official, full day of summer. Summer means fine weather and more leisure time for most. Let me encourage us to make the most of every opportunity because the days are evil (Eph.5:16). Don’t waste the summer away by spending it on yourself, but maximize the opportunities to invite people over for a bbq or a wiener roast. Be in the driver’s seat and look for opportunities to testify to the difference God has made in your life. And don’t be surprised when the Holy Spirit has sent you people who are open and hungry for the abundant life that can only be found in Christ.