When Jesus walked the dusty roads of Palestine, he was loved by many and criticized by more than a few. His critics said he spent too much time with the wrong people and not enough time with the right ones. They were convinced his scandalous association with all these “sinners” made him eat and drink too much.
Jesus said all he wanted to do was to show God’s love to people who desperately needed it.
There is a message here for those who want to follow Jesus today. Fewer and fewer people are making church as we know it a priority in their lives. The idea of gathering with others on a Sunday morning to sing, pray and listen to a lengthy sermon holds little interest for increasing numbers of people. Countless others have been deeply involved in church at some point in their lives, but left because of the hypocrisy, judgmentalism or lack of love they found there.
The Jesus Dinner Party is an alternative. It’s church for those who don’t have one, and outreach for those who do. It’s an opportunity to spend time with people you enjoy, celebrate God’s presence in your life and become the kind of loving person God created you to be. It may encourage some to give Sunday morning church another try; for others it may be the only church they’ll ever know.
How It Works
Having a Jesus Dinner Party starts with inviting a group of people to your home for dinner. Your guests may be people you already know, or people you would like to get to know. Let them know it will be “a party with a purpose;” share the information in this sheet with them if they want to know more about it.
The ideal number for your dinner party is six to eight people. Families with children should be encouraged to bring them; children may create some distractions, but they will also add much to the interaction. Something special happens when generations come together.
Everything you need to host your party (except the food!) will be provided online at no cost. At the end of the meal, there will be two questions to ask: 1) Would you like to do this again? and 2) Would someone else like to host the next dinner? The group can meet weekly, biweekly, monthly or on any other convenient schedule. If people choose to continue meeting, there will be an initial series of four dinners. There is no time-frame for the series to be concluded; in fact, it is hoped the parties will continue after the series ends.
Here are the themes for the initial series of meetings:
· Love God: Love begins with God. Like a rose with thorns, life is a beautiful gift from a loving God, with pain and suffering somewhat maddeningly included. How do we give thanks for the roses and manage the thorns of life?
· Love Yourself: God’s love flows to us. Nothing can stop God’s love, but when we make self-destructive choices, our experience of God’s love is blocked. How do we practice self-care in an unhealthy world with so many bad choices confronting us every day?
· Love Your Neighbor: God’s love in us overflows to those around us. How do we show our love for family, friends, co-workers and neighbors in tangible, helpful ways?
· Love Your Enemy: God’s love in us is intended to reach far beyond us. We generally avoid those whose lifestyles and worldviews are radically different from our own because we see them as a threat. What would it mean for us to love them instead?These topics will be the focus of discussion throughout the dinner. When the discussion wraps up, the dinner party ends with A Meal to Remember. Reflecting on Jesus’ last supper with his disciples reminds us of God’s extravagant love for us in spite of our flaws and failings.