Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Put Mission on Automatic (Day 30)

#31days of Missonal Meals
 (Thank you for your grace this week. I recently returned from a long weekend at Allume followed by a cancelled flight that left me stranded in the airport, and additionally we have some exciting things happening in our personal life, so all that combined left me exhausted with very little time or energy for writing.)

One thing that has really helped me in my missional journey over the years is putting relationships on automatic. I had been doing that for quite some time before The Nester accurately articulated it here. What I mean by "automatic" is to choose reoccurring meals and times each week, month, etc. to develop and deepen relationships with specific people.

When I was doing this best I had two reoccurring lunch dates each week, I opened our home for dinner each Wednesday, and I intentionally spent time at our third place on the weekends.  What works best for you will differ based on your season of life and demographic. Right now I'm really blessed to have a friend who opens her home and cooks us dinner each Monday night. We share food, catch up on life and keep our relationship growing each week around her table. There was a season when we were at their house almost every night and that was wonderful. But while our current season doesn't allow for that it's good to know we have a regular time to break bread and share life.

One of my ongoing themes this month is simplicity. I hope you see how setting up automatic meals can make pursuing missional living easy and accessible in whatever season of life you're in. Be sure to read The Nester's article above for other ideas on how this might work for you.

Do you already have any meals or meetups set on automatic? I'd love to hear how this is working for you in the comments below.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

More Resources for Your Journey (Day 29)

#31days of Missional Meals
I hope you liked the resources I posted Saturday. I came across a few more posts that I couldn't help passing along. I hope they're a benefit to you:

I hope these posts encourage you as you continue on your missional journey.

Monday, October 28, 2013

So Far (Day 28)

#31days of Missional Meals

It's hard to believe our missional meals journey is nearly coming to an end. I hope you've planned a meal and perhaps already enjoyed the beauty of missional meals. We've focused on simplicity in our hospitality and on having meaningful conversations that lead to deeper relationships. I hope it's been clear that you don't need to rework your entire life to live missionally but simply do what you're already doing with intention.

There are three more day in this series and I'd love to hear what you done so far to incorporate missional meals into your intentional life. Share your stories, comments, and questions in the comments below.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

For When You're Hungry (Day 27)

#31days of Missional Meals

When your door is open and you're living with intention, some days you might find yourself hungry. Starving, perhaps. For when you're giving and serving you are giving a bit of yourself. And each time you serve up a meal you offer a bit of your heart as well. And if you're not careful eventually you will find yourself empty and very, very hungry.

So today I pray you commit yourself to sabbath and rest, renewal and rejuvenation. Let someone else, be it a restaurant, or spouse, or friend, serve up the meal. May you read a good book or take a long nap or a enjoy warm bath.

Most importantly, may you connect with God in worship. And though you come to the table hungry, may you always leave full.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Resources for Your Meals (Day 26)

I highly recommend these resources as you continue to discover the power of missional meals:

This cookbook by Mary DeMuth is centered around community. Read my review here.

  • Everyday Rhythms from Redeemer Church: a great strategy for living with intention 

  This one is on my reading list. Have you read it?

 Happy reading!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Why Meals Matter (Day 25)

#31days of Missional Meals

When mission becomes routine it is often easy to forget how much of an impact we are capable of having on the lives of the people we are trying to love.  I was reminded of this truth one night at the local cigar store where I used to work.  When I worked Joy and I made a habit of cooking a homemade meal for the employees about once a month in order to love and serve them.  Most of the people I worked with were 18-24 year olds who were living on their own and didn’t eat homemade meals very often so this was kind of a big deal to them.

Over the years, we have had many opportunities to get to know these people on a personal level, hearing their stories, their fears, their hopes and dreams.  We really saw the impact that taking a few minutes and preparing a homemade meal for people could have on our ability to gain access and validity into their lives.

Even now that I have left the company we still continue to make meals for them once in a while in order to maintain those relationships and get to know the new employees.  It was during one of these times that I was reminded of just how big of an impact these meals could have on someone.

As we brought a home-cooked dinner l into the store I recognized most of the guys working that night but there were a couple of new guys that I wasn’t very familiar with other than just a few casual conversations when I visited the store.  One of those new guys was a very out-going and friendly guy but very vulgar and very upfront with his views against religion.  I had never had a one-on-one conversation about his views but I had overheard a couple of conversations before and gotten the gist.

When we set out the food and invited the guys to dig in he stood back and waited to eat last, but before he went to get his food he pulled me aside and asked why we had done this.  The question caught me off guard because in all the years we had been bringing food no one had asked me this question before (I think everyone was just happy to have some good food brought to them).  My mind was racing as I attempted to formulate my thoughts into a cohesive and brilliant summary of the Gospel and Joy and I were serving these guys.

However, on that day, eloquence was not going to happen and what came out of my mouth was essentially, “My wife and I are Christians and we think that part of living out the Gospel of Jesus includes loving people.  We hope this food is a sign of that love.”  I’m sure the words were far less articulate than those sentences just conveyed, but the point got across nonetheless. 

He looked back at me with a face that expressed both doubt and bemusement, but he replied with, “I don’t f***ing get it, but thanks for doing something nice for us.”  It wasn’t the earth-shattering sermon illustration that I might have hoped for but it brought me back to the reason we were doing this in the first place.

Food was a foot in the door for us.  Meals let us have an opportunity to sit down with people and share an experience that gave us access to their lives.  It was a stepping stone to tell them about the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ.  A few dollars out of our pocket and a few minutes out of our lives gave us a chance to be the hands of Jesus to people who desperately need to know our savior.  

 Jason is married to Joy and together they live as missionaries in Downtown Orlando. Jason loves cigars, spicy food and football any night of the week. He dreams of churches that meet in unlikely place like cigar lounges and bars. Because if Jesus ate with sinners why shouldn't we?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pantry Essentials and a Recipe (Day 24)

#31days of Missional Meals

For most of my life I lived in two separate worlds: private and public. As a child, family came and went in a nearly constant slamming of screen doors, but outsiders rarely knocked.  My first years on my own were spent working like a dog and filling my spare hours with textbooks not dinner parties. Even when I finally had the perfect nuclear family I rarely threw open the shudders and invited the world in. I spent the first 25 years of my life telling myself this was normal. I was just a private person, an introvert. I didn’t need to throw open the screen door and let the world into my safe place. 

And then, after divorce and other failures blew a huge hole in my carefully constructed fortress, I started to figure out what you might already know if you’ve been following Joy’s advice all month long: a good meal with someone who cares can heal an awful lot of wounds.

The first few years after my divorce, I spent many nights sitting around the dinner tables of caring friends: A middle-aged couple whose cupboards are always stocked with nice wine and strong cheese; my best friend’s loud Italian family where at least 20 varieties of pasta could always be found in the pantry; and saddled up to a barstool with an aging bachelor buddy who could always be counted on for a drawer full of good beer and an evening of even better conversation. All these varying personalities have one thing in common: their pantries are prepared for conversation.

These days, after learning from my more open friends, my kitchen is always ready. Every Sunday evening neighbors, friends, and family wander onto our back porch and join in our culinary adventures.  Sometimes we are few and sometimes many. I rarely know which in advance. With a stocked pantry and a little imagination I can feed 12 as easily as 2.

The key to a memorable meal is planned spontaneity. This is only possible when you’re pantry is always stocked with staples. A great meal can always be made from a few of the ingredients on this Pantry Essentials Checklist. Most are probably already in your cupboards, but if not, add two or three to your grocery list each week until your pantry is full. Then throw open your screen door and whip up this simple recipe for a crowd-pleasing pasta dish. 

Tuna  Puttanesca Pasta

All of the ingredients for this pleasing pasta are kitchen staples that you should always keep on hand. Double or even triple the recipe to feed a crowd. Now you’ll never be unprepared for company again!


1 lb Penne Pasta
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cans tuna in olive oil, drained well
6-8 cloves garlic, chopped
½ to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
1 Tablespoon capers
½ cup white wine (or chicken stock if you don’t want to use alcohol)
1 28-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
Salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Salt the water and add pasta. Cook until al dente.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes.    
    Cook until fragrant (about a minute).
3. Add the tuna, olives, and capers. Cook two minutes more.
4. Add the wine. Stir and cook until reduced a bit.
5. Add the tomatoes and cook until heated through.
6. Add ¼ cup of the pasta water to your sauce. Drain the pasta.
7. Mix pasta with the sauce. Serve with crusty bread and a salad for a complete meal.

Serves 4-6

Cook Time 12 minutes

Renia Carsillo shares her recipes for life, love, and dinner at Renia is currently working on her 2nd book. Read all about it on Kickstarter. In all she does, Renia is working to help women find their most delicious selves. When not cooking or writing, she can be found at the park in her pink laces, running off all that olive oil and good wine!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect (Day 23)

#31days of Missional Meals
It doesn't have to be extravagant. It doesn't have to be perfectly orchestrated. It doesn't even have to involve real food. Sometimes healing takes place in the midst of an impromptu coffee date, or in the simple routine of everyday life.

I had my heart broken and restored with Starbuck's Passion Tea in my hands. I admonished a brother in Christ while my fingers froze from holding Portillo's famous Chocolate Cake Shake. I've dropped mushrooms from Lou's Malnati Salad on my carpet while continuing a weekly movie date with a friend, even in the midst of incredible relational issues. I spoke love into high school girls' broken lives while accidentally burning NestlĂ©'s Break and Bake chocolate chip cookies.

Sometimes, the best of life happens when a friend sees you in the coffee shop window and stops in to say hi. It's that moment in the grocery store when you walk by the cookie dough and buy some just in case those girls ever come over. While making food for my nephew, I was mentored incredibly by my big sister, my role model. Or in midnight McDonald's runs with my unbelieving sister, I am amazed at what truths she allowed me to speak into her life.

Real conversations, real moments, real change happens when you're together, beyond what you could have hoped or planned for.

Take life as it comes; linger in that coffee shop just a moment longer. Buy that great snack that you usually deny yourself. You never know when ministry opportunities will present themselves.  

Clohe Ludwig is a student at The Moody Bible Institute and is currently on staff with Converge Church Planting.  Frank Sinatra is her kind of man and Chicago is her kind of town.To read more of her writing visit her blog here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Memorable Meals (Day 22)

#31days of Missional Meals
"Entertainment has little to do with real hospitality. Entertaining says, I want to impress you with my beautiful home, my clever decorating, my gourmet cooking. Hospitality, however, seeks to minister." -Karen Mains
Most people can tell you little about the tablescape or centerpiece at their most memorable meals. They probably don't remember the decorations well or how clever the place-cards were presented. Often they'll remember the food. But the most important part of any meal is the people. Conversations and company are what make meals memorable.

Perhaps you'll notice a theme in a how I approach missional living? I'm into simplicity. I believe less is always more. If you're the queen of Pinterest parties that's great. But you're probbably not going to want every missional meal to be an elaborately themed event especially fi you're opening your home at least once a week.

So how can you keep your meals simple so that there's room to focus on relationships? Below are some of my ideas:
  • Keep a simple menu. Use a crock pot for a big pot of soup served with crusty bread and salad. Or a simple pork tenderloin from the crock pot will make a big impression with very little effort.
  • Set a simple table. White is always classic and showcases your delicious food. A simple short candle grouping is always a fine center piece. When I want something more specific to the season I use 12x12 pieces of scrapbook paper as place mats. They're cheap and you can simply toss out them after the meal if they get ruined. 
  • Have an after dinner plan. Will you retire to the living room for games? Will you have coffee on the back deck or cordials on the porch swing? Remember the meal is only the beginning and you want to keep the conversation going. Oftentimes a more comfortable seating area is all you need for rich conversations that last well into the night.
What are your tips for keeping hospitality simple? I'd love to hear from you. For more encouragement in this area see A home that says, "Welcome".

Over the next few days I have some wonderful friends and loved ones that will be sharing some of their most memorable meals while I prepare for Allume. Stay tuned because I'm so excited about what they each have to share.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Welcoming Home (Day 21)

#31days of Missional Meals
"We don't want competition. We don't want 'look how beautiful.' We want 'look how honest.'" -Shauna Niequist
I once walked into a home with everything in its place and fresh vacuum lines in the carpet.  Immediately the husband began to apologize for the state of the home and lament how upset his wife would be when she came home to see guests in such a disaster of a home.  It was at that moment that I doubted we would ever have a deep and lasting relationship with this couple. I knew I couldn't live up to their standards of perfection and frankly, I didn't want to.

Missional meals are not about perfection. Your house does not and should not have to be perfect every time you practice hospitality. If you hold yourself to a standard of perfection quite quickly missional meals will become more like work and less like joyful living. This is especially true if you're opening up your home regularly and often.

However grace and authenticity are not excuses for inviting others into a chaotic and dirty home. There are seasons of life where your home may be messier than others and that is ok. But while people don't feel comfortable in an all too perfect house, they also don't feel comfortable in a house where they're afraid to sit down or go to the bathroom. In difficult seasons of life it's ok and wise even to recognize your boundaries and reorient your hospitality calendar.

Below are some simple reminders to help you cultivate a welcoming home:
  • Cleaning Basics: a living room that's picked up, a floor that's swept, and counters that are empty make a big difference. 
  • In a Pinch: always make sure the bathroom is clean for guests as this is the only room they'll spend extended time in alone. (They shouldn't have to questions what that spot on the toilet seat is.) And light a candle in the entry way as a pleasing fragrance gives the illusion of cleanliness even if the eye says otherwise. 
  • Great your guests and offer them a drink right away. It's even better if you have a drink station setup for them to help themselves (this is one I'm working on).
  • Always allow guests to contribute if they ask to or split the menu among the group. People feel more involved when they add something to the meal. If you've got everything covered have those who want to help bring an extra bottle of wine, etc. 
  • Even if the meal is not ready the host should be showered and dressed. (via Shauna Niequist).
  • Bonus: have music playing prior to people arriving (I'm working on this one too). It acts as white noise and eliminates that awkward silence that can occur with a mixed group. 
Do you have any tips for cultivating a welcoming home? I'd love to hear your advice in the comments below.

And for tips on being a great guest see this excellent post.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Prayer for You (Day 20)

#31days of Missional Meals
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." John 10:10-11
For when you fail and are failed. For when you say all the wrong things at all the wrong times. For when dinner burns. I pray you would be reminded of the great abounding love of God toward you. I pray you would recognize that God died so you are free to live. That he was perfect so you're free not to be. And recognize that each night when you lay your head down He is still sovereign. You are an instrument of His but it is He who reaches down to the lost, the rebels, the broken, and calls them to himself.

Jesus + Nothing = Everything. So each morning you can wake and live in grace and each night you can fall asleep in peace because you already have everything you need and there's nothing you must do to earn it. You are free to fail, and say the wrong things and burn dinner. Because all is not lost. You are not in control. And that is what true freedom feels like. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Life As Mission: A Visual (Day 19)

#31days of Missional Meals
Verge Network is one of my favorite places for practical missional resources. They've provided this graphic to illustrate life as mission vs. life with mission. If you'd like a more thorough explanation visit the original post here.

I hope this illustration further illustrates how simple it is to live intentionally with missional meals. How can you be more intentional in the areas pictured above? I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Where We Are (Day 18)

#31days of Missional Meals

Thank you for taking this missional meals journey with me. It's hard to believe that the month will soon be over and next week is the last full week in October.

I wanted to let you know what the rest of the month will look like. I'll continue to offer practical tips for missional meals including a few recipes, pantry essentials, and some guests posts that I'm really excited about. Be sure to subscribe via email using the button to the right so you don't miss a thing.

How has your missional journey been thus far? Are you excited about the possibility and simplicity of deepening your relationships around the table? How are your plans coming for your first missional meal? Or have you had one already? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

For Your Gospel Centered Conversations (Day 17)

#31days of Missional Meals Day 17

As you continue on your missional journey consider the concept of Ought-Is-Can-will. The video above shares this pattern in life perfectly and is well worth your time.  Throughout our lives and daily situations we see a common code. In most situations we recognize the world as it Ought to be and feel the tension with how the world clearly Is. We respond to this tension with what we Can do and look forward to the world or our current situation as it one day Will be.

How can understanding this code help you intersect your faith and life as you seek to connect around missional meals? I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Theology of Food (Day 16)

#31days of Missional Meals: Day 16
"Lynne Rosetto Kasper, the host of The Splendid Table, says there are two kinds of people in the world: people who wake up thinking about what to have for supper and people who don't. I am in the first camp, certainly. But it took me about twenty years to say that out loud." -Shauna Niequist
I think it would be impossible to talk about missional meals without discussing our view of food. My thinking on this issue continues to develop but there are a few things I'm sure of:
  • Gluttony is a sin. It puts the created thing in place of the creator.
  • Food is to be enjoyed. (See Genesis 1:11-12, 29)
  • Balance is key. But this will look different for each person based on individual health needs, body type and any dietary restrictions.
  • Food like most things is better when shared. Nothing increases the joy of your favorite wine, a delicious salad or really good chocolate like sharing it with others. 
Clearly if you're looking for an astute analysis of a theology of food this isn't it. But below are some resources that have helped me as I work toward my own clear perspective on food:
So do you struggle with keeping food in right perspective? What are your tips for finding balance? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

There is Grace (Day 15)

Original Image

For when you don't listen well and feel anything but authentic...For when you say all the wrong things...On days when life suprises you and dinner burns...There is grace.

This missional living is imperfect just like us. You will have days when you get it all wrong or life throws you a curve ball. There will be seasons of life that are less than ideal. You will fail and be failed. And for all those times and every situation that arises, there is grace.

We're in this together.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Stories Matter (Day 14)

Original Image

 "The Pharisees hadn't experienced grace or recognized their own need. As a result they had no grace for the needy. They had nothing to offer and nothing so say. " -Tim Chester
One of the greatest ways to find a bridge for sharing the Gospel is to share stories. Previously we talked about the importance of listening well. Oftentimes people who you've formed relationships will voluntarily share their story with you. Perhaps they've begun to share parts of their story with you already.  Another thing you can do to form a bridge to the Gospel is to ask good questions when people are sharing their stories with you. Many times we have found that people will bring up God, the church, or Jesus all by  themselves. This is especially true when you're talking about the problems of pain and suffering or if they have been hurt by the church. If someone brings up one of those topics you have an easy bridge to the Gospel. Be sure to gauge their attention to what you're saying and ask if it's OK to share more.

Another great way to build a bridge to the Gospel is to share your own story. I'm not just talking about how you came to know Christ but specifically the hard things you've experienced in your life. Stories of abuses, depression, addictions, and the loss of loved ones provide the kind of vulnerability and validity that will cause people to give you a measure of trust and desire to know how you've survived your own pain and struggles. A former pastor of mine was sexually abused for ten years. His openness about that pain in his life has been a platform for sharing the Gospel on numerous occasions.

If you don't have a lot of experience sharing your story one good discipline is to right it down and share it with some one who already knows you well.  Begin praying that God will give you courage and the right words to share your story with unbelievers. Pray also that He will give you wisdom to follow the Holy Spirit's leading when the time is right to share your story, listen to another's story, and ultimately share the Gospel.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Finding Jesus in Your Meals (Day 13)

"He was a party animal. His mission strategy was a long meal, stretching into the evening. He did evangelism and discipleship round a table with some grilled fish, a loaf of bread, and a pitcher of wine...His 'excess' of food and 'exces' of grace are linked. In the ministry of Jesus, meals were enacted grace, community, and mission." -Tim Chester
Today is Sunday and perhaps you have some special meals planned. In Orlando the norm would be brunch at the the Farmer's Market and perhaps evening snacking while watching the big game at your favorite hang-out. Today as you gather, break bread, and eat, may you remember the creator of our food, His modeling of missional meals, and look for the sacred in the ordinary. And may your conversations be rich and your relationships be deep as you find life for both body and soul around the table.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

For Your Weekend Reading (Day 12)

FREE Chapter
You may have noticed that I quote Tim Chester a lot. His book A Meal with Jesus helped inspire this series when I first picked it up at the beginning of 2012. He discusses a theology of food as well as Jesus' intentionality around the table. I highly recommend it as  a resource for your own missional journey.

Click the link above for to download a chapter foe free. Happy reading!

Friday, October 11, 2013

On Listening Well (Day 11)

Original Image
 "If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full." -John Piper
Perhaps by now you're beginning to feel more confident about this missional meals thing. You have a date on your calendar to host a meal with a diverse group of people. But maybe you're feeling nervous about what to talk about. Are you wanting to engage in conversations that go beyond the surface? Let me teach you a trick; just listen.

Before we moved to Downtown Orlando we had  friends who did open-air preaching on Downtown street corners. Watching them interact with people was one of the most educational times for my own missional journey. I learned that for the most part people want to talk to you but you will miss what they are really communicating  if you're not listening. Oftentimes we found that the people least receptive to the Gospel had been hurt by the church. We found that out by listening.

People usually will tell you anything you want to know if you are willing listen because they want to know and be known. Perhaps their family is in shambles. Perhaps they've been abused and have made some decisions about the opposite sex because of that. Maybe they grew up in a really strict home and have either become really strict or exceedingly relaxed because of it. Before you can share the Gospel with people in a way they'll connect with, you must begin to hear their story. The best way to do that is to listen because usually they are already sharing it.

I challenge you today to choose at least one person to really listen to. Only talk to ask clarifying questions or if they ask for your advice. You'll be surprised by what you learn.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Authenticity is Key (Day 10)

Original Image
"God's people ought not to be looking for a place to hide, but a place to give themselves as an offering to God." -A.W. Tozer
As the month goes on I'll continue to offer some practical advice for meals but lets transition for a bit to the the missional side of things.I want you to be able to talk about your faith freely and help others on their faith journey. Meals without weaving in the Gospel aren't missional. They're just meals.

 I thought I'd share a few points on authenticity as we make this transitions:
  • People are not projects. You are not trying to check them off of your to-do list. God loves them, wants whats best for them, and made them in His image. They can tell if you're not being authentic and treating them as a project. 
  • People should not be blindsided by your faith. If you invite someone into your home and they see scriptures on the walls and a Bible on your coffee table and this surprises them, there is a problem. If you are not honest about who you are and what you believe than why would someone want to learn more about the God you serve?
  • You can be honest and full of grace. People don't not want to be "beat over the head with the Bible." But most people are curious about what you believe and will be willing to share their own beliefs if you are gracious and loving in the way you share yours. You don't have to compromise the truth of the Gospel to share authentically.
Going forward we'll talk about listening well and sharing stories but for now consider the points above and ask God if there are any areas of your life He can help you to be more authentic in. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Eating at the Public Table (Day 9)

Original Image
" If exiles are looking for where God is already working, they might be surprised by what they find. They might find God in the bar or the biker gang, in the strip club or the casino...No one in Jesus' time would have though to find God eating with tax collectors or playing with children." -Michael Frost
(You may have noticed that most of the posts in this series have focused on the practical elements of meals. Perhaps you're wondering if I've forgotten the spiritual elements? I haven't and we're getting there. But I've noticed that more often than not it is the practicalities of missional living that get in the way of relationships and deep conversations. We're on our way to discussions on the deep matters of faith but for now I want you to be prepared to gather with people around the table. With that preparation I pray you'll feel more freedom to cultivate deep relationships and conversations with eternal value.)

Yesterday we talked about the importance of inviting people in to your home to share meals around your table. Whether it is right away or eventually that is an important part of both missional living as well as forming relationships. However there are certain instances when eating in a public place may be more appropriate. Lets talk about those today.

In some parts of our country people don't traditionally invite people into their homes. For example, Shauna Niequist mentions that in Chicago people are more likely to gather in restaurants or pubs unless they have an opulent house. On the other hand her experience in Michigan was that everyone had open doors no matter the state or size of the home. In addition to the culture of your area you'll also want to consider your demographic. A lot of times older adults will be more receptive to an at-home dinner invitation while a twenty-something may feel awkward or even intrusive coming to your home initially.

Finally consider what places you have in common with those whom you're hoping to deepen your relationship with. Do you hang out at a certain coffee shop, sports bar, or cafe? Did you meet them there because they're employees or regulars? Oftentimes those are indicators that meeting first at a public table is best.

Additionally eating in public is a great way to model Biblical community to both Christians and non-Christians alike. Seeing you gather with people from different walks of life, who have different opinions than you, and enjoying a meal in peace can be a sign of God's presence to almost anyone especially in the current divisive state of our country.

As you consider pursuing missional meals keep your public options open and seek God about the best environment for each group of people you hope to break bread with.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Eating Around Your Table (Day 8)

  There are some meals with some people that are best shared in a public place. We'll talk more about that tomorrow. But today I want to focus on the importance of inviting people into your home. To share meals around your table.

Most people want a home cooked meal. Oftentimes they'll feel more at ease in your kitchen, around your dining table. Perhaps you've never hosted people in your own home before (especially people you don't know well). If that's the case this may seem a bit intimidating. But welcoming people into your home breaks down walls and instantly adds a level of authenticity. Inviting someone into your home for a meal is inviting them in to your life to share all the imperfections and beauty of your space.

Later we'll discuss how to practice Biblical hospitality whether or not you have a lot of time to prepare, whether your house is perfectly spacious or a small rental and how to prepare simple meals no matter your skill level. But for now take a deep breath. You already have a date, a guest list, and a place.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Eating with the Lost and Found (Day 7)

Original Image
"Every soul has its own unique nuances. Each of us is uniquely formed in our mother's wombs...However there is one thing we all share - the need to connect. To dine with someone is to connect with that person. The table experience with your spouse, family, friends, an colleagues - and even your enemies - has the potential to begin bonding human hearts in a new way, a deep way that brings spiritual connection, a bonding that life's circumstances should not break. During meals hurting hearts heal, sad hearts are made glad, depressed hearts get new vision, and divided hearts come to peace." -Devi Titus
You need to eat with people who are like you (other Christians). You need to eat with people who are different than you (non-Christians). And you need to eat with them both. At the same table.

Your friends who don't know Jesus need to hear a perspective different than yours. Your Christian friends need to be challenged by diverse beliefs. You all can be made better by one another and have more rich conversations by sharing meals together.

Last week you should have a set a date for a dinner and started thinking about guests to invite. Today finalize that list. Make sure you're inviting a mixed group of both Christians and non-Christians. We'll begin to discuss the practical elements of missional meals. But today pray over your list and ask God to prepare your heart for a night to remember. Pray that this one dinner would lead to a lifestyle of intentionally gathering the lost and found in community around the table.

Are you excited? I'd love to hear about your plans for missional meals in the comments below.