As more cities, states, and nations begin the easing of lockdown restrictions over the coming weeks, we have a fabulous opportunity for mission that is all about food, friendship, and thankfulness!
We’re calling them Gratitude Dinners – and they answer the question, “Who are you first going to have round your dinner table when lockdown ends?”
For most Christians, the natural inclination will be to focus those first gatherings purely on other believers (and perhaps your extended family)… and we’re so ready to be able to gather with our close Christian friends as well! HOWEVER, if we stop there, we’ll be missing a huge opportunity… and, candidly, behaving in a selfish manner.
Imagine this: it is a decade in the future, and one of your currently lost neighbors is asked who they first socialized with once the coronavirus lockdown ended. A light will come into their eye as they tell the story of beautiful evening spent lingering around your dinner table, sharing stories, laughing, mourning, eating and drinking, and commemorating the moment. They will then pause, and reveal that there was also a time of sharing stories of gratitude to God, each of them so personal and authentic. And that spiritually rich moment jump started them back onto their journey to faith in Jesus.
Will it not a spiritual moment to sit together, share a meal, and be grateful for God’s goodness to each one of us? In many ways it will feel sacramental – an unexpected bubble of grace in the most ordinary of activities. Because of this, your lost neighbors will remember for a long time who invited them round to eat and give thanks when the lockdown ended.
MAKING THE ASK
We discuss this more in the video, but the ask might be something like, “With lockdown ending on Monday, we wondered if you guys would like to come join us for dinner early in the week? We’d love to eat good food together, enjoy time with each other, and along the way share stories of things for which we’re especially grateful to God as we mark this meaningful moment in the pandemic.”
Don’t forget: everyone is invited to bring a contribution to the meal and to the gratitude section. There’s no age or faith restrictions!
- Be creative! Your gratitude dinner might be a brunch, cocktails on the front lawn, afternoon tea, or a pig roast! You can craft this to best invite in your neighbors.
- Be sensitive. Coronavirus is not gone, and some will be more cautious than others – often for good reasons. Some ways around this are to do a meal outdoors, or to meet up in an open space (e.g. a park). If some of those who want to come are more vulnerable, issue special instructions to the rest of the group (e.g. “Those two seats set apart are for Katie and Jeff, so that in spite of his health issues they can still join in but have social distance.”)
- Make it feel like a ‘feast’ and a time of gratitude. Ways to be spiritual include:
- Go around the meal table and each person shares something for which they are thankful to God.
- Read one or two pre-written prayers, with an appropriate Bible verse. You might want to have these printed out on card, so that your guests can take them home.
- After each person shares, they light a tea light on the table. If you darken the room to begin, gradually the individual lights will combine to make a far stronger light – comment on how our individual thanksgivings can fuel our shared journey with God.
- Invite one or two to lead you all in prayer for those who are sick, and for first responders
- Share in a simple communion/ breaking of bread.
- Make sure to include children! And adults don’t need to be Christians to join in – you only need a heart of gratitude.
- Take a group selfie to share with everyone.
1. Write down who you could invite to a lockdown dinner (or two).
2. Plan how you’d like to hold the event (time of day, meal type, location, etc)
3. Think specifically how the gratitude part will look for your group
4. Practice making the invite, so that when the time comes you say it clearly!
TWO OTHER OFFERS…
1. INVITE US TO DO A VIDEO SERMON – If your church is doing online services and teachings, why not invite one or both of us in as guest speakers? A number of churches have asked us to do just that (both regular talks and interviews). The video teaching option will give you an experienced outside speaker, at way less than the cost of having a visiting guest speaker in person! If you’re interested, send us an email and we can discuss options!
- For some churches, we’re teaching a class online for them – perhaps around Hearing the Voice of God, Healing the Sick, or being on mission at this critical time. These can be one-off to multi-week processes, to suit you and your church’s needs.
- We’re also doing some consulting calls with church elder boards and staff teams, to help them develop stronger missional and disciple-making cultures.
2. NEW NATURALLY SUPERNATURAL COHORT – We are forming a new cohort to run on Tuesdays at 2.30pm EST/ 11.30am PST, roughly every other week for 12 months, beginning on Tuesday May 12. Click here to find out more about the Cohort, and how to register!
* If you’re reading this in early May, we have 2 spots left – so don’t hang around! The next Cohort won’t begin until August 4 (and if you’re interested in that later date, shoot us a message to let us know!)