Here is a new Dinner Church site. Information about it was left on the DCM page by Jennifer Palin, who has previously pointed me toward other sites. Jennifer is a minister in Ontario, Canada. Among other things, she manages a page on Facebook of the United Church of Canada. Would you please follow the example of Jennifer and let us know of other Dinner Church experiments out there? Where it’s worked and where it hasn’t. We can learn from both.
The church is Bethel Pentecostal Church, Assembly of God in Bay Roberts, Newfoundland.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BethelBR/
Church website: http://bethelbr.com/
Pastor Andrew Holm’s blog: http://andrewholm.com/eating-together-sunday-morning
Article in Christian Week (reprint of pastor’s blog): http://www.christianweek.org/6-lessons-eating-together/
We’ve had enough examples of Dinner Church that this new one allows me to compare a couple of them. You might recall that there was another Assembly of God site I listed earlier: Community Meals in Seattle: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/community-dinners-church-nourishes-bodies-souls/
Though the two share a denomination, they are different in a number of regards. Geographically they are almost farther apart in North America than any of the other sites we’ve listed, one on the west coast of the U. S., the other on the far east coast in Canada. One is in the midst of a large urban city; the other is in a much less populated area: Seattle 66 times the population of Bay Roberts. The first is unique in providing meals outside a normal church setting, the second is set in a more typical church congregation. So the first is more a reaching out to new people, the second is dealing with the ongoing life of a congregation. Most of the dinner church settings we have gathered on this page so far have been of ‘mainline denominations’. These two examples show us that dinner church can be an effective ministry across the sweep of denominational types, from Pentecostal to High Anglican. These examples today are two different forms of dinner church and deal with answering the fundamental question: Is dinner church best done within or beyond an established congregation? That’s worth a serious discussion.
The Seattle minister, Verlon Fosner, felt he needed to begin anew, like St Paul. In preparation for his Community Dinners, Fosner did demographic studies of the city and of his denomination’s ‘effectiveness’ in urban church ministry. It is a sober assessment. He looked at the recent Biblical studies of the Greco Roman Meals. He sold the buildings of a dwindling urban A/G church and used the monies to establish the new ministry, Out of this he wrote a manual of over 100 pages to explain what he was doing and why.
The Newfoundland pastor, Andrew Holm, used his church’s evening service slot and his blog to explain the idea of dinner church. He was disappointed that not all his congregation approved of the ‘communion worship in a full meal setting’ idea. He felt that more would have been convinced if he had done more study and discussion. We always hope for that, don’t we? Even if it doesn’t finally persuade all. That’s the dilemma of trying to do dinner church in an established setting. He pulled it off; it might not happen in every established setting. Just know it may be hard work and it may not happen in your setting.
Yet, the power of the Dinner Church idea is so strong that it can work in many different settings. I think it is evidence of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit working in the church today.