As 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. .
Why Is it Working?
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!
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