I don’t remember who had the idea first, but we both were tired of the long queue of people we wanted to have come over for dinner on Wednesday nights. Not only could our dining room not accomodate more than one set of guests, but we were simply in the habit of inviting only one couple or one or two singles per week.
Around the time we decided to move, we were thinking about how to create (and become part of the) community at our new church and at the same time lamenting that we only had one night a week to entertain and so many who we wanted to invite. A light went off…
Anyone is welcome. Anyone. Friends from the church, friends from work, friends from the former church, friends from the neighborhood, etc. We haven’t gone too crazy with that yet, but I try to always invite some folks from outside my Sunday circle and am going to become more intentional within my Sunday circle to include anyone and avoid building a clique. I’m serious about the anyone thing.
Most folks are part of several different circles or communities. There’s a work one, a church one, a quilting club, the bar community, your friends from college, high school, disc golf… And while they do cross over at times, it’s very natural and typical for us to keep them apart.
I firmly believe that this should not be the case.
There is a gentleman who used to work for Willow Creek who left to plant a church in San Francisco. I’ll screw up the details here, but he views his church (which is not a four walls and roof church) as a series of connected rings. He says most churches are a rubberband and the church tries to stuff as many people in before the band breaks. So views each ring as a community that someone is a part of. While they extend one ring in to the “church” they are always extending another ring out to the rest of their lives. Connecting everyone. (Some people have a lot of hands I guess.)
Or something like that.
Point being, church is not a sermon and worship, it’s community. And sense we are not part of only that one community, but (usually) many communities, we should seek to bring them together. Not bring people from your neighborhood or work to church. Instead, I think we should seek to let them be one in our lives. We hold so many things in our lives in tension, but who hangs with who should not be one of them.
I’m still fleshing out my sense of what authentic community is I suppose, but hopefully this helps shed light on this new aspect of our lives, our new Family Dinner.