Jan 25, 2023.
I have always enjoyed the story about the 12-year old Jesus left behind in Jerusalem (Luke 2). When his parents returned to search for him, they found him in the temple discussing spiritual things with the priests. I have chuckled to myself when Jesus replied to his parents, “Didn’t you know I would be about my Fathers Business?” This past week I noticed that several translations say, “Didn’t you know I would be in my Fathers House?” I fear those translations are trying to accommodate the modern version of Christianity who’s primary expression is attending church gatherings. But the older translations who depict Jesus’ answer as doing his fathers work or being about his business are more accurate. In Jesus Hebraic world, spirituality was always proven by corresponding engagement in good works; going back and forth to synagogue would never be sufficient. Our primary metric of Western Christianity is church attendance, which it is not the same as doing the Fathers work, and needs to come under a serious review. I am so thankful for the Fresh Expressions movement that is giving leadership to the established church about engaging in the lives of different people groups in their towns. This takes Christian spirituality outside of our buildings, which is an important first step toward good works.
There is another truth that emanates from this story of the misplaced boy-Jesus. Lu 2:41 states that every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for Passover. Thus, by the time he hosted the Last Supper with his disciples on the night before he went to the cross, he had celebrated the Passover remembrance dozens of times; he had a deep and practiced understanding of this annual meal event which celebrated Israels miraculous deliverance from Egypt’s slave program 700 years earlier. Jesus also knew full well that on that final night, he was altering the reason for the Passover from God’s rescue of Israel, to Jesus’ rescue of mankind. It was the New Passover they celebrated that night. And then he told them to do this and remember him going forward. He gave them a vision for doing church. It is from that inaugural event on the first Holy Week that the dinner church finds its traction. So as you gather for your next dinner church event, please pause to remember that you are practicing the same New Passover Jesus handed to his disciples…and to us…2000 years later.
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 100-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.