January 7, 2021
Yesterday was another tumultuous day in our nation. I had hoped that 2021 would somehow be more peaceful, but it looks like it’s picking up right where 2020 left off – more protests, more lockdowns, and more instability. And yet the body of Christ does walk to the cadence of culture; we take our cues from the inbreaking Kingdom of God.
#JesusStories: Mark 9: 33ff captures an all-to-human moment with the disciples. They were arguing about which of them would be the greatest. In response, Jesus’ brought a child into the midst of their talking circle and told them to become a servant to everyone, even a child. This was perhaps the equivalent of Jesus walking into a modern-day church office and demoting the Senior Pastor to a Childrens Pastor. (And no, I do not see Childrens Pastors as less important than Senior Pastors). The disciples had wandered off the path of Christian leadership, and Jesus got them back on track by reminding them of their ‘servant of all‘ calling.
We too, sometimes wander off the path of solid Christian leadership. In self-reflection, over these past months there have been numerous times when I’ve heard or seen something on the news that made a spirit of hate rise up in me. I wish I were more spiritual than that, but no. Over and again I have felt a dark desire to “set somebody straight” for their fool-headed political perspectives. I am glad I do not have a FB account or it would have been too easy to spew a diatribe of my self-righteous words. Even though I have not gone public with my disgust, I’ve still had to deal with an ugly spirit coursing through my veins; I’ve wandered off the path of Christian leadership during those hate-fests. It is interesting however, how quickly my soul has been restored once I remember the servant of all calling – even for those who had previously been the subjects of my distain. The uprising kingdom of darkness traffics in hate and division; the inbreaking Kingdom of God traffics in servanthood and unity. When our souls are filled with the latter, we know our Christian leadership is back on track!
#DinnerChurchQuotes: “The whole Bible in six sentences: OT = They tried to kill us! We survived! Let’s eat! NT = I love you! I forgive you! Let’s eat!” – Leonard Sweet
#PracticalStuff: It has been my practice to start most mornings early, sitting with Melodee, a cup of coffee in hand, and talking to Jesus. Some years ago I realized that my image of church and the prayer altar was controlling my image of prayer during these morning times. And all-to-often there was a feeling of resistance to talk with Jesus only because it was 6am and I wasn’t yet in the mood to go to church. But after we starting recovering the historic Jesus Table, my morning image began to change to a breakfast table. Interestingly, my resistance to talk with Jesus started to fade; meeting Jesus at a breakfast table always sounds better than going to church, especially at 6am. What is your devotional image? Our ‘prayer-setting-image’ matters. As you take the first steps into 2021, you might want to try meeting Jesus for breakfast.
Dr. Verlon and Melodee Fosner have led a multi-site Assemblies of God Dinner Church in Seattle, Washington since 1999 (www.CommunityDinners.com). In this decade when more churches in the U.S. are declining than thriving, and when ninety-six churches a week are closing, Verlon and Melodee sensed that a different way of doing church was needed for their 97-year old Seattle congregation. It soon became obvious that they were not the only ones in need of a different path. They joined the FX team in 2016 and founded the Dinner Church Collective. And then in 2019 founded the Dinner Church School of Leadership. There is a lot to be gained when church leaders begin to see open doors in the American landscape that they had previously overlooked. Therein lies the journey for those who will forge a new future for the American Church.