" 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.