Written by Daniel Hazard
"Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people." from Acts 2:37-47
At one congregation I served, potluck suppers at church did not attract many people, but when we started having them in people's homes, the attendance doubled. People loved seeing church members' living spaces, after all those years of only seeing one another at church. Was that the only reason attendance doubled? Well, in the interest of full disclosure, some people also liked meeting in homes because you could serve beer and wine. But they were drinking wine in the book of Acts, too. From the beginning, the church knew that worship is central, but it's also good to get people around the table, laughing, eating, having fun and praising God.
To learn about the earliest Christians, who might have known Jesus and the apostles, read the book of Acts, written by the author of Luke. Like the other gospels, Luke is about Jesus. Acts is the next chapter - what happened after Jesus ascended and left regular people to build the church.
Remember: the church has not always been a building on Main Street. Acts shows the church trying to form itself, long before newsletters, building use schedules, church basement potlucks and capital campaigns. And from the beginning, the church ate together, casually. They spent time worshipping at the temple. They also gathered in people's homes, to share a good meal and a glass of wine. And that was church, too.
Help me and my church to delight in one another's presence, whether we are in the pews or around the supper table.
Lillian Daniel, author of When "Spiritual But Not Religious" is Not Enough, has a chapter in the new anthology, What My Mother Gave Me: Thirty-one Women on the Gifts That Mattered Most. Follow her on twitter @lillianfdaniel.