Sept 16, 2021.
In our youth things seemed simple; each of us could grab one perspective on any topic and hold onto it as though it was ‘the only way to see it’. But now that we are older, such simplicity no longer suffices. Most adults have fully learned that there are always a couple incongruent perspectives pulling at us on almost every topic. Maybe this is why Paul said he “looked through a glass darkly”, i.e. “looked through a fogged-up window.” When opposing views are present, things do get foggy.
#JesusStories: As the book of Matthew draws to an end, we witness a frustrating conclusion. After the resurrection, some of the religious leaders bribed the soldiers who were guarding the tomb to report that some of the disciples came and stole Jesus’ body in the night (28:13). Though there was no explanation as to how a couple fishermen could have overpowered trained and weaponized soldiers with their bare hands, the story became widely circulated among the Jewish people (vs.15). I hate this paragraph; like so many other divine happenings, even this pentacle event was blunted by an alternate version of history. In fact, the enemy of the kingdom has seen to it that there are alternate and more-logical explanations to every divine occurrence in the Gospel story. What this means for Christian leaders is we must lead people to accept the mysterious story-line by faith, even though a more-earthly explanation exists. And yet, that is our leadership task. Jesus was born of a virgin! Jesus did heal the sick and raise the dead! Jesus did remove the strangle-hold of sin for the whole world when he died on the cross! Jesus did raise from the dead so he could take his place at the right hand of the Father, be available to our prayers 24-7, and direct the greatest Rescue Project the world has ever seen. The false narratives, however logical they sound, must never be allowed to stand. We must boldly tear them down by telling, retelling, and re-retelling the stories of Jesus over and over again.
#DinnerChurchQuote: “Early Christians, interestingly, began not with creedal speculation, but with stories about Jesus, about those whose lives got caught up in his life.” (Stanley Hauerwas)
#PracticalStuff: Are the Jesus Stories being told in your dinner gatherings? If they are, then you have the full capacity to grow your people in the likeness of Christ. If not, how soon can you start? Even covid should not hold back the retelling of the Jesus Stories. In the wake of the pandemic some groups who are serving drive-by meals are printing up a Jesus-story-of-the-day and pasting it to the lid of their to-go containers. Others are telling a 30-second Jesus Story through the window and offering a prayer before their guests drive off. Other outside dinner churches are having their people stand or sit in ‘eating-circles’ throughout the park while the pastor circulates through each group, tells a Jesus Story, and prays over them before moving on to the next. And these are just a few of the ways dinner church leaders are keeping the Jesus Story thriving. This is a case of ‘where there is a will there is a way’. What is your way?
Blessings & Boldness,
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.