Category Archives: Dinner Church

Coloring, Mindfulness and Moms

God likes to speak to me as I pull into the driveway. A couple of weeks ago God said (very matter-of-factly), “Nicole, go back to hosting a dinner church.” This was not the first time God has spoken to me about ministry, about church and about what I needed to do (and, don’t worry, it’s not audible but rather its like a bold inner, intuitive voice). And while I do listen, I also find that when God speaks to me is as much about the conversation as the proclamation.

Ah, dinner church! We did a dinner church last summer during the month of July. I enjoyed it and thought about doing it again but could not make it work with my schedule. Also (and this is the bigger issue), we were not gathering many new people but rather people who already were connected to a church. Church people don’t need another church thing to do and honestly, neither do I – even though, I love to eat dinner outside in the garden at a long table under twinkle lights!  What I started wondering after the summer was if the place to have spiritual/life/insightful conversations with new people isn’t dinner church after all.

So, this was what my conversation with God was about. And the more I prayed about it, the more I turned the idea all around, I began to realize that the call was about meeting new people and engaging with them where they were. It was a call to build friendships and understanding and not about designing a program. It was a call to relationship. It was a call to create space for life.

A week later, I heard God speak again as I pulled into the driveway, this time God said, “Nicole, what about starting a coloring group?” Now, this caught me off guard. I had never thought about this before, but the idea was so good I immediately got excited about it. Later that week, I set up a Meet Up for “Empty Nester Women Who Color, Practice Mindfulness and Drink Wine.” I mean, why not? I am an empty nester so it’s a great connection and mindfulness meditation and coloring are both so awesome. So far I have 12 women confirmed, none of whom I know.

I feel both excited and a bit scared – like, what am I doing???? What if I “do it wrong”? You know, the usually voices who have nothing helpful to say when you step out and do something new.

But that’s OK – I am focusing on the possibilities. And, I do know what I want to come out of this – some new friendships, some new conversations and an opportunity to grow and learn. Happy New Year!

Simple Summer Dinner Church (1)

The dinner was simple, just three homemade salads –a green salad, a pasta salad, and a watermelon/bacon salad. The tables were set outdoors in the garden with simple lights strung overhead. Those who gathered were a mix of folks from churches, the neighborhood and Facebook connections.  This is Simple Summer Dinner Church.

Simple Summer Dinner Church is a five-week experiment. As I write this, we just completed week four.  The experiment grows out of my curiosity – could church happen around a table in a garden? Would people come? Would they share? Would they be willing to pray and break bread? Would they find it brought them closer to God? Would it be life-giving to the hosts (me and my husband, Jeff) and not just “one more thing to do.”

I am interested in new forms of church. Not because I don’t value old forms but more because it seems possible that the new forms might reach new people.

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I am also curious if this kind of church (around a table with food, conversation, prayer and communion) might be a faithful expression for those who are feeling a tug toward something different in their spiritual lives.

The “something different” might be…

  • A space to be fed. Its natural to link food and conversation and it is part of the ancient church. It feels right to do church around a table while we eat and drink together.
  • A place where there is more community and less hierarchy. While a great sermon and amazing music matter on Sunday mornings, what matters at dinner church is everyone has a place to eat and share.
  • A gathering that is more relational, slower, more able to just be. I love having time just to listen to people – there is no rush to “get to what is next,”  – instead there is time to hear one another, the sounds around us, and God speaking into our lives.

I am enjoying this. It feels real, healthy, doable, & life-giving. I am glad my friends who serve at churches on Sunday have come for their own spiritual life.  I am hopeful we will grow and come into our own identity

IMG_1096Here is what I am learning:

  • Getting the word out is a challenge. Because it is a new idea, it takes people hearing it several times till they become open to trying it out.
  • Figuring out the format was more stressful the first week but has become really natural as we have lived into it.
  • Making the food is part of my gift to the community. While I make the food, I think about the church and what sitting around a table means. Like preparing a sermon, preparing the food is getting ready for who will come.
  • Having people help get things ready (or taking the lead in cleaning up) makes for a better gathering – it moves people from spectators to participants and lets the gathering be lightweight and low maintenance for me and my husband.
  • Sitting around the table together is important – it builds community and real conversation. It is better not to get up and move for discussion but to stay together around the table.
  • Having time for silent prayer is meaningful. After we share our prayer requests we invite people to spend a couple minutes praying and then I offer a communal prayer. That silence lets us listen to the sounds of the night as we lift up what we have heard shared around the circle.

More to come –

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