buffet-tableActs 2:42-47 ESV
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Have you ever experienced an extended separation from your spouse or a loved one? The sweetness of being reunited is almost beyond description, isn’t it? For many at Basswood Church, having been separated from our faithful friend the Fellowship Meal while we prayed for adequate meeting space was like being separated from a loved one. And as we return to the practice, we anticipate the reunion to be exceedingly sweet!

But for some, there may be questions as to why church families would dedicate the time, energy, and resources required to have a weekly meal together. In answer to that, we would probably point them back to the example of the early church.

In looking at Acts 2, we see the early church earnestly devoting themselves to things of much importance. Though there may be many things that could be meant by the word “devoting”, one thing that must surely be included is that it was an intentional priority. Among the things that they devoted themselves to were prayer and teaching. We could all understand that. But more surprising to our ears may be that the early church was devoted to breaking bread and fellowship.

True, there is no direct requirement for all churches in all times given in this passage. Yet from the pattern we observe, it seems that the normal perception of the church would be that they were committed to taking time to visit with each other, talk to each other, listen to each other, and eat together.

Beyond just sharing food, as there were needs that came to the surface these early believers shared from their own homes and resources. They were even selling things that they had in order to share the resources among the church family. What a beautiful picture of Christian charity and commitment. This was a true family.

That life of sharing went even from home to home, where we see them breaking bread day by day. This is an example that we would do well to follow as well. God has given us homes and resources that we ought to use in Christian hospitality. Having families from the church in our homes ought to be a regular, not an exceptional, occurrence. The model for us from the early church was ministry happening outside of the church walls, family to family and house to house.

With that in mind, we have attempted to practice as best we can a similar pattern at Basswood Church. Every week we gather following our morning service to share a meal together, to dialogue over the word preached, and to share in the Lord’s Supper.

Here are just a handful of the evident benefits we have seen from our weekly meals:

  • Opportunity for fulfilling the “one anothers” of Scripture.
  • Getting to really know other believers.
  • Sharing with others from what you’ve been given.
  • Discerning where you and your family can provide ministry in the body.
  • Giving and receiving counsel, correction, and encouragement.
  • Giving us a sweet foretaste of the coming fellowship meal of the Lamb!

So, though there is no prescriptive command in Scripture that all believers must share Sunday meals together, the pattern seems plain and the benefits are unquestionable. And, Lord willing, Basswood families will be sharing meals together for many more Lord’s Days!

Post-Script for Parents
Here’s a quick note for parents. Addressing these things with your family will help everyone enjoy our mealtime together more:

  • We want our guests to be first to the tables (on the dessert line too!). Here is a practical opportunity for our children (and us) to learn to put others first.
  • If you’ve noticed that your 10 year old’s plate looks like the plate of a defensive lineman, it would probably be good to assist them in “portion control” (or enlisting someone to help with that). Taking only what they will actually eat will allow others to have food, too. (And there will more likely be opportunity for seconds)
  • We have said frequently, that there are no “Parenting-Free Zones” in life. That includes fellowship meal and second session. Dads here is a chance to serve your bride by keeping up with your little ones!
  • Teaching Tip: Encouraging our children to be others-aware is a key lesson for little ones from the fellowship meal. Simple things like smiles, manners, and carefulness are great ways to serve others.
  • Families with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities rely on our gluten-free table as an edible option for their meal. Let’s encourage our gluten-able-and-loving kids to pass by and leave those foods for the individuals that need them.