A Resurgence of House Churches: Food, Faith, ​and Fellowship

lightstock_263911_medium_byrene_haneyAs I read and studied this movement, it brought back memories of my childhood.  When our church pews were most often filled it was at harvest home.  This was the season we gathered together to worship God and share a meal.  It was our time of celebration at the rich bounty of God’s abundance in our lives over the past year. We gathered to rejoice and experience community, lay aside any differences and for the sake of unity. Harvest home provided much-needed fellowship centered around, good food, Christian friends and a shared mission. And the music, oh the music, especially this communion hymn.

Some say this old spiritual song, dating back to the 18th century, was the password used by slaves to allow entrance into secret, forbidden worship meetings in Virginia. Originally, the first line was evidently, “Let us praise God together on our knees”.

Let us break bread together on our knees, (on our knees)
Let us break bread together on our knees. (on our knees)
When I fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun,
O Lord, have mercy on me.

 What has happened to that sense of community?  Our lives are cluttered, our sense of community measured, our lives too often internally focused.  I long to venture back to the Acts concept of community.  Read it and be inspired, encouraged, motivated. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47

What is it?

 Paul Nixon of The Epicenter Group has an excellent explanation of the phenomenon.

“It is one of the fastest growing formats for Christian gathering in North America. Dinner Church is multiplying by one of the most organic methods: people are copying other people. While you might find an occasional network here or there – or intentional planting of new dinner gatherings in a few places – most of the time, Dinner Church begins in a new place because a group heard about it in another place, went and visited, and decided that it would work back in their hometowns. This form of gathering is possibly as easy to replicate in our culture as Methodist class meetings were two hundred years ago. .[1]

Why Is it Working?

lightstock_466314_download_medium_byrene_haney_This movement is exploding because it is organic, easily replicated and mobile.

You have a gathering of people who meet weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.  At the heart of the ministry, attraction are some of my favorite elements, food, faith, and fellowship.  All the important things happen at the dinner table. Wasn’t that the truth for many Americans, the dinner table was the epicenter of family life.  Here there is a meal, but the group does not meet first and then eat.  Nor do they eat dinner, and then go to church. The beauty of Dinner Church is worship, fellowship, and food all happen simultaneously. The dinner table is the place where an authentic community is formed. What is most amazing about this movement is who it’s attracting: the unconnected. More on the why of that in the coming weeks.

“20 Look! I’m standing at the door and knocking. If any hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to be with them and will have dinner with them, and they will have dinner with me” Revelation 3:20.  A great reminder of the heart of Jesus.  He still likes having dinner with sinners and He invites His followers to set the table.

Stay tuned more movement studies to come!

[1]http://epicentergroup.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/WHAT-IS-DINNER-CHURCH-1.pdf

In The Service of an Awesome God!

8 Comments on “A Resurgence of House Churches: Food, Faith, ​and Fellowship

  1. Our church is doing something similar…we have what is called House Fellowships and it once a month on Sunday morning. There is one going on all the time so each Sunday there are house fellowships, but different groups meeting…so your group only meets once a month. ummm…does that sound right?? 🙂 Hard to explain when writing it out. You listen to the sermon via video, pastor sends links to the music and the worship leader takes it from there. I have not been to one yet, they are still forming and only a few are up and running. The goal is to have everyone in the church family participate. We did something similar for Palm Sunday. We went to homes for brunch for fellowship then met at a larger local church for Palm Sunday service. We normally have two services three or more on holy days. Pastor likes us all together on special days so usually finds a place of worship to fit our needs. It is a blessed experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow so it helps me understand why we get more people for our monthly Brazilian food festival than we ever do at church. We do it to raise money for the mission programs but maybe we could think with a wider horizon! Thanks for posting this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this Keith! Community is so important and fellowship with one another with Jesus in the midst of it all. Gathering around a dinner table breaks down barriers so often for the unchurched, out of church or been hurt by the church. Everyone meeting to break bread, worship and love one another wherever they each are on their walk with the Lord is a great way to become the church-body of Christ. Thank you for posting this. Blessings~

    Liked by 1 person

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