Photo credit: CarbonNYC (Creative Commons)
A post about food seems appropriate after the amount I've eaten over the past two days!
Food is very important in the context of seeing multiplying churches. Luke 10 is our signature passage on how to reach out to those who don't yet know the Lord. It tells us that we are to look for people of peace–those who have influence and are open to our message. We can identify them because they offer us hospitality.
Luke 10:7-8 says this about the person of peace:
Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you.
What is the importance of food? Why is it important to eat what is set before you?
Food creates relationship–in every culture of the world. If someone offers you food, they are generally offering friendship and relationship.
There are very few times when the same concept is mentioned in two consecutive verses in the New Testament. This is one of them. It's not just an optional extra.
If you reject food, you are doing far more than saying you don't want to eat. You are rejecting friendship. There have been times when I would have preferred to refuse food. (You try eating a hamburger you have just watched a cockroach walk over!) If you want to see disciples made in the harvest, swallow your squeamishness and eat what is set before you!
The third of the four things that the early disciples devoted themselves to was "breaking bread." The second half of 1 Corinthians 11, which discusses the problems caused when some people ate all the food without waiting for others to arrive or even got drunk (!), makes it plain that this was in the context of a full meal (verse 21). It isn't referring to a fragment of cracker or bread and a thimbleful of wine or grape juice taken solemnly and silently together! We know too from Acts 2:46 that the new believers shared their meals together.
Most simple/organic churches meet in the context of a meal. There is something about eating together that enables fellowship, and it's harder to be "religious" where food is involved. Eating together usually involves laughter and sharing, good-natured banter and deep heart-to-heart discussions. As one of our friends likes to say, "How do you spell fellowship? It's four letters:
Most groups that we know share a potluck meal–it is reproducible and doesn't leave too much work with the host family. A lot of fellowship goes on too over the preparation of food and the clean-up later. Some groups may even have their whole time together around the dining table.
What about communion. We often add taking the bread and wine in remembrance of Jesus' death on the cross into the context of the meal. Maybe we break into smaller groups to share together, or have each person share with someone they would like to pray for. The Lord is very creative and again, and if we avoid repetitious practices, it doesn't become a religious ritual.