I’ve been shamelessly promoting The Table on social media and to everyone in earshot. The past five months we spent finally putting down on paper, website, and into action a dream that has been at least 7 years in the making – maybe it’s been brewing my whole life. A month has passed since we started holding official gatherings. Friends, family, and everyone I’ve been incessantly blathering to now have one question: “So…how’s that Table thing going?”
If this were a traditional church or a regular style church plant, that would be an easy question to answer. I would just tell you the attendance and giving numbers and talk about “momentum” or our next advertising push or my great sermon series or some such thing.
It’s also a hard question for ME to answer because most people don’t have the ten minutes it would take to explain all the things that are happening that are wonderful, surprising, engaging, rewarding, hopeful, and sometimes tough (I’ve been told I need to work on being more succinct).
I figured I should try to write it down…
It’s like The Matrix…
“No one can be told what The Table is…you have to experience it for yourself.” Aaaaand now I’ve decreased my street cred with a fourteen year old movie reference. And by using the phrase “street cred.” But it’s true – pictures, videos, and words only tell half the story. The Table is more of an experience than a product that can be categorized and easily referenced. If you don’t gather regularly with other believers because traditional church models just don’t make any sense to you, join us some Sunday – we might have a solution for that.
People are talking.
By that I don’t mean we are wildly famous and buzz-worthy (I’m still trying to get our website to show up in ANY Google search). I mean people are talking to each other. A unique feature of our gatherings is discussion – we take time I would normally spend teaching and cut it down to leave room for what we call “Table Talk.” It’s amazing what happens when you have to actually interact with the subject of the night. We are wrestling with the topic and encouraging each other to ask difficult questions. This is by far the riskiest thing we’ve tried – asking people to talk to each other is a tenuous proposition, and counterintuitive to all my previous church training. But it’s turned into something genuine and full of grace. It’s my favorite part of the night.
It’s more living room than cathedral.The early church met together in the temple when they could, but mostly house to house. Two millennia later, we live in a high tech, low touch society. Real connections are hard to find. For The Table to become what we dreamed of, we knew it had to be less performance or event and more like an evening with friends, talking about Jesus. We’ve really got a good start on that vibe – I think it’s part of our DNA.
There is something powerful in the act of gathering on the eve of the start of the traditional work / school week to worship Jesus and talk about His actions, attitudes, and commands. I have been profoundly moved as we discuss, worship together, and share in communion. It sets my spirit right for the week ahead, and I am finding those moments of grace spill over into my Monday mornings. It strengthens and encourages, and to me, that’s the whole point of gathering with other believers.
It’s just the beginning.
We’ve had a lot of firsts in the last month – the first offerings given to The Table, the first week with actual live worship music, the first Table Talk, the first gatherings. These are the seeds of the future. We are praying and believing for more:
- More offerings so we can materially help the poor and support those who spread the gospel (not pay to support our massive overhead costs, which do not exist).
- More exiles finding their way home to a community of faith through The Table (right now that means more people joining us for our weekly gatherings – in the future it will mean a variety of things).
- More people using their gifts to encourage, challenge, and equip us for our daily work in making disciples (which means I’d like to not be the only voice you hear online and in person soon).
- More ideas for how we can incarnate into and engage with our community. I can’t wait to see what unique expressions of grace this group comes up with!
I know this dates me, but when I was young, there was this Twila Paris song that somebody sang as a “special” at least once a month at church. Last Sunday night as I looked around the room at The Table, a few lines from it popped into my head:
How beautiful the feet that bring
The sound of good news and the love of the King
How Beautiful the hands that serve
The wine and the bread and the sons of the Earth
How Beautiful is the body of Christ
At the risk of sounding sappy, in our humble gatherings I see the beauty and simplicity of the Body of Christ. Everyone helps out to set up tables and chairs and food and then take them all down. We open up to each other about our questions and struggles, our wins and our losses. We remember the sacrifice of Jesus and connect with the Church universal as we share the elements of communion. And we encourage each other to think of ways we can be effective in our calling to make disciples.
It’s the kind of community of faith I’ve always dreamed of being a part of, and I’m grateful to all who are committing their time and talent to making it happen!