The Thing About Preaching
Mar. 1, 2023.
One day John’s disciples came to Jesus and asked if he was really the Messiah. Jesus told them to go back and tell John, who was in prison at the time, about all the miracles occurring and how the gospel is being preached to the poor. (Matt. 11:5; Lu 7:22) Is it possible we are routinely developing our preaching around scriptural themes, while forgetting that the first focus might have less to do with content and more to do with who we are preaching too? According to Jesus, preaching to the poor is in itself a telltale sign that the Messianic age is upon us.
In 2004, Paul Engel and Gary McIntosh researched the Characteristics of renewal movements in church history, and found the following commonalities: 1)A rediscovery of the heart of the gospel, 2)A tension with institutional forms, 3)Catalytic leaders, 4)Rediscovering a sense of community, 5)Active discipleship as the norm for all members, 6)Ordinary Christians are released to ministry, and 7)Preaching the gospel to the poor. Whether it was the four Great Awakenings between 1730 – 1890, the American Pentecostal Revival of 1900, or the Welsh Revival of 1904, there was a consistent return to preaching the gospel to the poor.
This research thrills me, especially when I consider what the Spirit is raising up with the Dinner Church movement. All of the characteristics listed above are increasingly becoming commonplace among our many Jesus Tables. I am not saying the Dinner Church wave will reach to the heights of the Great Awakening or the Pentecostal Revival, but I do feel a deep kinship with the highpoint’s of church history and the work of our Founder as we preach the stories of Jesus to the poor at tables hundreds of dinner tables every night across the land. There is a holy alignment that occurs when we focus our preaching on the poor. And that is worth some deep meditation.
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.
By: Steven Curry
Good word today. I’ve used the Mark and Luke verses before at our dinner church (The Table @ Westport). It is so easy to share with others when you have Jesus as the focal point. I am a recipient of a physical miracle by Christ. With my testimony, the testimony of others and God’s word, people respond.
With the research shared here it will enable us to visibly see the path Christ takes when moving in a community.
There are two dinner churches I know of in Grays Harbor. Us and our sister church The Table @ Ocean Shores. It has been awesome to see God move in our neighborhoods pretty dang close to what Verlon has shared here today.
Steven Curry, The Table @ Westport
By: David Bennett
The 7 Characteristics of Renewal Movements by Paul Engel and Gary McIntosh are incredibly helpful in opening the way for us to understand the impact we are having and reproduce what is working in very practical ways. Once we can see where we are at in the process of development we can begin to prepare for what is next maximizing our efforts and keeping us from stopping short of the type of fruitfulness Jesus desires. In essence, we could say preaching to the poor, isolated, and marginalized people who are hurting is the true nature of what it means to be followers in the way of Jesus. The research simply confirms what the Spirit has been telling all along. It is time for us to move from accidentally being fruitful in our efforts to aiming to be fruitful in the labors we put forward.
By: Sandy Johnson
That list of commonalities between the renewal movements in Church history is thrilling! Just as Steven Curry commented on this blog, we share with each other often about the miracles we see at our dinner churches. We saw several this week at The Table @ Ocean Shores. One I will mention is a man named Jeremy who was with us for the first time. Jeremy was incarcerated and has been dealing with a lot of depression and oppression since he was released. He sat down and started flipping through the Jesus Stories Bible on his table. A story caught his attention and he began to read the story while exclaiming, “Wow! I love this” repeatedly. I invited him to take it home as our gift. He later shared with us about the depression and oppression he had been experiencing. And how when he began to read the Bible, it all just left him. This was just one of several miracles this week among a room of 101 people. We were overwhelmed by the enormity of the needs we sensed coming into the room. But we were also overcome by a sense of celebration because of the powerful presence of Jesus in the room. Our team now expects miracles on Tuesday nights. I believe we, all dinner church teams, will experience as many miracles as we are expecting!
By: Josh Gering
I believe that we will see our dinner churches across the country packed with people wanting to hear about Jesus, be healed, and find a family to be a part of. It’s so simple, preaching the stories of Jesus, praying for healing, and opening our arms to people. Thank you for this timely information! Praying blessings on our dinner churches.