From the Pastor's Desk Reflections on Dinner Church

Reflections on Dinner Church

As I discussed in last week’s email, last Sunday we had the privilege of visiting Dinner Church at First Baptist of Red Bank. If you missed that email, you can read it here, but essentially, Dinner Church is a ministry of FBC Red Bank where they put on two meals per week for anyone and everyone in town who is lacking for food and/or human connection. The hope is to form relationships with the attendees that can lead to new or growing relationships with Jesus. I heard from Jared, a pastor there, that they baptized one of the Dinner Church attendees on Easter.  Awesome stuff!
So on Sunday, a few of us from Central attended Dinner Church, got to engage with some of the attendees and leaders, and enjoyed a good meal (cooked and served by their youth group…it was pretty delicious too!).
Here’s some of my reflections on the experience…
First: I loved that they were leveraging their physical location (in the middle of Red Bank) and social location (near folks who suffer from food insecurity) for their mission (to be witnesses / make disciples). As we heard on Sunday, God has placed us in a given location – our “Judea” – and calls us to use what we have to reach out to who is around us – and be witnesses in our “Judea” (i.e., the neighbors who we don’t know – but could if we chose to!).
When we reflect on our location, what are some needs in our area? There might be some food insecurity, but that doesn’t seem as present of an issue. So what is? Maybe it’s loneliness. Maybe it’s marriage or parenting struggles. Maybe it’s too much money (and not enough meaning)! I don’t exactly know…but it caused me to ask,

How can we leverage our physical and social location for the mission we’ve been given?

A second reflection: I loved that they were utilizing the gifts of the people of the church – and extending that opportunity to others. From what I’ve gathered, FBC Red Bank majors on hospitality, eating together, and creating space for people to enjoy life with God together. With Dinner Church, they’re taking that gift and applying it to this new mission. They have a youth group that can cook and serve – and they’re using that gift (and the kids are learning how to serve like Christ!) for this mission. Not only that, but they’ve extended this service opportunity (preparing and serving meals) to groups outside of the church – which draws more people into the church, into her mission, and into serving others. Again, awesome stuff.

It caused me to ask again, what are the gifts we at Central have that we can apply to our mission? And how can we open up that opportunity to others, to cultivate their gifts and to draw them in?

A third and final reflection, and to go back to my email from two weeks ago: people are great. I had a chance to talk with and get to know (just a tiny bit) some attendees…I could tell that each had a hard story and a difficult journey that led them to where they were at. As I got to know them, however, a warmth, friendliness, and joy came out…along with an eagerness to know and be known. Wherever they’re coming from, however they got there – when you sit down at a table and eat with them and get to know them a bit – people are great. Even though we don’t have Dinner Church,

I hope that we, as Jesus followers, are creating opportunities like that to be with and get to know people.

That is a picture of what it looks like to be witnesses in our “Judea”. I hope we can do more of it as we go forward together.

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