There is nothing quite as effective in ministry as fellowship around the table.
In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, nurturing genuine covenant community is no easy task. Missional and relational rootedness requires deliberateness and intentionality. It can be hard and messy work. But the truth is, the men and women and families who need Christ in our neighborhood are far more likely to be attracted to our church plant by the vibrancy of our relationships than the incisiveness of our vision statement or the creative application of our model or the oratorical brilliance of our preaching.
That’s why you should eat. Together. Regularly. Joyously.
I love food. I love everything about food. I love eating it, of course. But, I also love talking about it, thinking about it, and reminiscing about it. I love the social traditions that surround good meals. I love the kind of fellowship that can only be shared around a dinner table or across a picnic table or beside the kitchen counter or over the stove. And, I’m not alone. Most people love food too.
But apart from its obvious sensate attractions, food is supremely spiritual.
Consider the fact that we can hardly read a single page of Scripture without running into a discussion of bread and wine, milk and honey, leeks and onions, glistening oil and plump figs, sweet grapes and delectable pomegranates, roast lamb and savory stew. Everywhere we look, there are feasts and celebrations, fatted calves and pungent herbs, loaves and fishes.
Think about how many ways the Lord uses food to preach the Gospel to our hearts and lives. Faith is defined by hungering and thirsting. Covenant is defined by hospitality and community. The pinnacle of worship is the gathering of God’s people around His table. The culmination of the history of redemption is a wedding supper.
And have you ever noticed that nearly all of Christ’s post-resurrection appearances occurred at meals? Remember, Jesus did not say, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone opens the door, I will enter in and discuss theology with him.” Oh no! Instead, Jesus said, “I will come in and sup with him.” What a difference!
It is always delightful for me to consider the fact that one of the surest indications of healthy covenant love in a church is the appearance of “saints bearing casseroles.” In times of joy, in times of sorrow, in times of celebration, in times of consternation, there is nothing quite like the power of food to facilitate a deeper and richer sense of our callings together.
So, we need to schedule regular times for the planting families to eat together, cook together, share recipes together, picnic together, barbecue together, and nosh together. We need to embrace food as a means of grace to reinforce the rhythm of the seasons, the patterns of the Gospel through the course of the year.
Our folks need to rediscover the wonder of table talk, the delights of slowing down just a bit, the refreshment of varied conversation, and the recalibration and reorientation of life and perspective that comes from iron sharpening iron. And all this may be had from the ministry of food.
“Taste and see that the Lord, He is good.”
“Amazing grace, oh how sweet the sound
There was glory in the air,
There was dinner on the ground.” Randy Travis
In 43 years of pastoral ministry, George Grant has planted five churches and has eaten untold hundreds of fellowship meals. Currently, he is the pastor of Parish Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Franklin, TN.