Monday, March 24, 2014

Food, Church Life, & Discipleship

“The Lord richly gives us all good things to enjoy” (I Timothy 6:17).

Dinner on the grounds.  Sunday pot luck.  Wednesday night dinner before service.  Sunday morning continental breakfast.  Notice a pattern here?

Food is (has become) an ingrained part of church life… and many of us enjoy it that way.

Not everyone agrees.  Many preachers will jump all over this with comments like:

“This is why revival tarries.”  “Their belly is their god.”  “Carnal people go to church for the food.” 

That over-the-top spirituality.

Let’s talk about FOOD and the KINGDOM of God.  Shall we?

 At PCC we serve food regularly.  There’s a continental breakfast on Sunday mornings.  On Wednesday nights an evening dinner is served to the teenagers and the adults who serve in that ministry.  On Friday mornings we serve breakfast to our clean-team (the group of volunteers who clean the building each Friday in preparation for Sunday services).   During the holidays we change things up and have holiday meals together.  Then there are the Sunday pot-lucks we do from time to time (i.e., had one a few weeks ago, and have another one coming up next Sunday).  During the warmer months we have church-wide picnics on the grounds on Wednesdays.  Chili cookoffs, Boston Butt BBQs, etc.  You get the idea.

Some might say, “They’re just coming for the food.”

Maybe so, but let me tell you what I observe during these times:
  • I see people hugging each other, having great conversations, and a few will be praying together
  • For some of these people, it is the only time of the week that they will be sharing a meal with Christian people
  • I see community taking place, and I see friends hanging out together.

So yea, it’s worth the effort of gathering together over a meal.  It represents ministry.

Let me offer some Biblical precedent…

The early church had a problem.  One morning the membership was 120 people.  By that evening it had exploded to over 3000 people!  This small group of believers had a problem on their hands and needed to find a way to disciple the larger group in a hurry.

What did they do?

“They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, and to fellowship, to the BREAKING OF BREAD, and to prayer”  (Acts 2:42).

And then we read…

“Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple and BREAKING BREAD FROM HOUSE TO HOUSE, they were taking their MEALS together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people” (Acts 2:46-47).

Don’t miss this…

A huge aspect of the discipleship of the thousands of people saved on the Day of Pentecost was to share meals together!

Eating together can be a holy experience.  The disciples shared a last supper together with Christ, and in Luke 24 they shared a meal with Him after His resurrection and were forever changed.

It’s a false spirituality that disparages God’s people for coming together (in His house or in His presence) to share a meal.

A TRUE STORY.  In my last pastorate we had a once-a-month men’s breakfast on Saturday mornings.  One or two of the guys thought we needed to do something more – something worthwhile – to justify getting together.  So we took on a project to build a basket ball court.  Here’s how the morning would unfold: We would have breakfast, then the chairman would call the meeting to order.  We would then “conduct business” (having discussion, making motions, taking votes, calling for ‘points of order’, and other parliamentary procedure nonsense).  All of this just to build a basketball court!

I hated it. 

It was a waste of time, not to mention it killed the fellowship.  It felt like another day of work.

I happen to believe if men gather to just have a meal together, (with no agenda – no speaker – no business – no nothing), and sit around the table swapping stories over thick bacon, sausage, scramble eggs, coffee, and biscuits, it’s AS GOOD AS IT GETS.

It’s a false spirituality that insists fellowship has to produce something more.

A relaxed meal with godly friends can accomplish more than we realize.

To sum it up…

Food is good.

And I seem to remember something in Scripture about a marriage feast thrown in Heaven for believers.  (See Revelation 19:9, among other places).

Bottom line:  “Whether then you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31).

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