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Dinner Church

2nd & 4th Sundays, 12:00pm 

Potluck Style - bring something to share if you can (NOT REQUIRED - Bringing yourself is more important).

What is a "Dinner Church"?

The following is adapted from the book "Weird Church", by Paul Nixon & Beth Estock

It is a gathering of people of good will, where all the most important things happen at the table. There is a meal. But the group does not meet first and then eat. Or eat dinner, and then have church. And you would likely not take the main worship activities into a room away from the eating area. It all happens simultaneously. Think of a good dinner party with a spiritual twist – and then just add  Scripture, art (music, poetry), robust conversation and prayerful moments (which may embrace silence, simple liturgy or a single person who vocalizes the prayer on behalf of the group).

Did I mention robust conversation?

One of the many reasons that modern people tend to really dislike church is because it is boring. One of the reasons church is boring is because it encourages a passive role for 90 percent of those gathered.

  • We talk. You listen. (You daydream… you doze off).

  • We control the agenda. You are held hostage, without even being able to ask a question or push back in the gentlest of ways.

  • We sing (which is fine), but then we make you stand and sing – which is fine if you are into that – but most Americans don’t sing even when they are standing for the National Anthem at the nearby ballpark. Group singing is more common at a karaoke bar, but otherwise, it’s a little off-­‐putting, especially for men and for people uninitiated into church-­‐world.

  • We tell you when to stand, sit, bow your head, raise your hand, scratch your nose.  We even tell you how to think.  What is this: kindergarten?

 

No it’s church, the way many Americans perceive church...and by the millions, they are walking away.  The "outsiders" or "uninitiated" feel unwelcome and unwanted...needs both spiritual and physical are not met.  BUT, this is NOT how "Church" was done in the first century!

 

So what if church was like a good dinner party, much as it would have been in the first century? What if there was fresh, hot, baked bread and a there was a plethora food and drinks out for the guests?  What if fifteen or twenty people sat at tables and enjoyed a meal together, along with lightly guided conversation focused on a life issue of obvious relevance?  What if the sermon were not a long monologue but instead a 5-10 minute story and invitation to conversation around a vital topic, followed by intermittent conversation, Q/A, consideration of Scriptural passages relevant to the conversation and then, perhaps the ability to change tables and to decide …

  • Do I want to be a part of a group that will talk about simple actions that we could take as a group?

  • Would I rather just hold the conversation in my heart: and then be quiet and still in a contemplative space (with or without candles, beanbags, yoga mats and soft evocative music)?

  • Or would I like to join a small conversation circle at one table for 15 minutes where they are going to dig deeper into understanding one of the Bible passages, with a person who has done some homework on the text?

  • Or do I just need more time to finish the organic conversation that has emerged with two or three people at my table?

  • Or perhaps, what I have experienced so far was deep enough for me, and I’d like to help with the dishes – or go see what the kids are up to in the next room.

  • Or would I just like to grab a cup of coffee and to go sit with a friend on the front porch swing or backyard if the weather is nice and talk about life in any way we please?

 

After 15-­‐20 minutes, they call us all back into the main room, back to the tables.  There is closing story, either from the leader or from the lives of one or two of the friends gathered.

 

Holy Communion is held – in some cases with very traditional liturgy and in other cases, with almost no words other than the subtlety of symbolic act.  The symbols are so powerful, that once we are in on the meanings, how necessary are words?

 

"I attended a Dinner Church once where dinner started with the breaking of loaves of bread at each table, and the pastor said something like this: “As we begin our meal, we break bread, and we remember that though we are many, we are all connected – we are one body, one human family – all of us: friends of Jesus, who gave himself fully to human beings.”  At the end, we poured a little more wine, and we toasted, “To Jesus, who is alive, in us… luring us to take the way less travelled and to love our neighbors this week.”  And, naturally, other toasts arose in the room.  With these simple rituals of bread and wine, book-­‐ending the dinner and all that happened at the dinner, we had church that night.  My, did we have church!"

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