Dinner Church, Anyone?

CHURCH WITHOUT WALLS, MILTON KEYNES

Church Without Walls is in Milton Keynes, about 50 miles north of London. They host a number of different services, but on the fourth Sunday of every month, they hold dinner church in a local school hall.

They share a simple meal together (jacket potatoes, pasta dish, pizza, etc.) over which they hear a short reflection on a Bible passage, some discussion, and prayer. They supply high chairs for little kids and some toys for them to play with, and the whole vibe is very informal and family-friendly.

Like they say, “From the very, very earliest time when the Church first began Christians have always gathered to share meals…so why not come and join us!”

 

BELLS DINNER CHURCH, CALOUNDRA

Bells Dinner Church meets every Sunday, at 5.00 pm at a local school in Caloundra on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast.

I first heard about them when a friend mentioned them to me. She’d seen that they use the acrostic BELLS and wondered if I’d had anything to do with them. It wasn’t a crazy assumption because I’d written a book, Surprise the World, which presented five habits for missional people, using BELLS as an acrostic (Bless other; Eat with others; Listen to the Spirit; Learn Christ; be Sent into the world).

Turns out, Bells Dinner Church might not have stolen my acrostic, but maybe they modified it. Theirs stands for Belong, Eat, Listen, Learn, Serve, which I think sounds great.

Bells Dinner Church meets, eats, learns together, and encourages each other to serve the world (or neighborhood) around them.

 

THRIVE, BELFAST

In Ireland there’s a really interesting dinner church called Thrive that’s designed as a “story and table gathering” for women. They meet monthly around food and storytelling in a safe environment where women can share freely and openly.

Thrive is part of Redeemer Central, a new church that meets in a beautiful and historic church building right in the heart of the city. While their regular services aren’t dinner churches, they do meet around tables in a cafe-style gathering.

 

DINNER CHURCH COLLECTIVE

In Seattle, they’ve taken dinner church next level, by launching a collective of ten gatherings around the city.

Started by Verlon and Melodee Foster, the Dinner Church Collective is a network for resourcing and supporting new forms of church across Seattle, and now around the world. Here’s how they describe dinner church:

“It is a practice that piqued the interest of non-Christians and Christians alike.

It is simple and affordable.

It was a practice Jesus used with his disciples.

It was a practice that the Church Fathers developed to reach and disciple believers across the ancient world.

A meal, music and message.”

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I’m not proposing dinner church as the only way to do church, nor necessarily as the best way. It’s one of the ways Christians around the world are finding to do church in a fresh, new way.

You’ll need a table (or a few tables), some food, a basic liturgy, a welcoming spirit, lots of prayer and patience and grace, and a willingness to do life with a group of neighbors as you orient your lives around Jesus together.

Maybe God’s calling you to launch a dinner church too?

This article originally appeared here.

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I’m a 20-year veteran of the academy, but I still don’t call myself an academic. On my immigration forms I write “teacher” in the occupation box. I’ve taught at Morling College in Sydney that whole time and am currently the head of the missiology department there.