It was a long and exhausting day. The spiritual food served was full of nutrients. Everyone worked hard to achieve a great program and all went smoothly. The speaker was fantastic; the number of the participants beyond everyone’s expectations. And then something happened. Late in the day, the invitation went out – everyone is invited to dinner! Maybe the disciples didn’t fully understand why Jesus decided to keep the five thousand behind and feed them. We are told Jesus “had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” They needed spiritual food but the physical food was important too. How do you imagine them… quietly eating in small sedate groups, or enthusiastically talking, discussing what Jesus had said, making new friends and consolidating the old ones over a miraculous meal?
What a great opportunity a plate of food can offer! What a privilege to be invited by Jesus to a dinner! Dinner with Jesus…
What if we could do something similar today…?
Your church may already be doing many things that reach out to your community. Pathfinders, Recipe Clubs, Adventurers, CHIP and Depression and Anxiety Recovery programs (DARP). You may have contacts as you meet and greet at the footpath on Sabbath morning, or from the holiday Kids Club you run. With a bit of creativity, it is not hard to come up with more… invite non churched friends to your small group, get involved in community projects as a church group, host a concert or a Christmas program, hire a bus to take people to Road to Bethlehem…
Or host a Dinners With…
You may remember a few years back the Conference invited Geoff Youlden and Gary Kent to Victoria, and some of our churches hosted a Dinner with Geoff, or a Dinner with Gary, inviting Beyond and It is Written contacts to come meet the presenter they have seen on TV and listen to a presentation over dinner. Guests were then invited to attend further evangelistic programs and they were more likely to accept, as they had been building a relationship of sorts with the presenter while watching their programs, and had been watching the programs in the first place because they were searching for something.
But “Dinners With…” this time could be a little different. It could simply involve inviting people to hear an engaging speaker over a meal. The concept is a great way of getting to know people in your community and deepening your relationships with those you are already reaching. How would your church go, hosting a dinner with Incredible Journey presenter, Gary Kent? Or something on Creation or Archaeology. Hope Channel’s Wayne Boehm may be interested in getting involved, or some of It is Written’s presenters like Eric Flickinger. Or perhaps your church could see itself hosting more local Aussie evangelists like David Asscherick or the Aussie Preacher, Lloyd Grolimund. Another great idea for people interested in health (which is just about everyone) is Dinner with a Doctor! Maybe your youth group has ideas.
Casey Church has just hosted a Dinner with Doctor Neil Nedley event at Fountain Gate Hotel in the South-Eastern suburbs. Dr Nedley has been helping people who suffer with depression and anxiety for many years now and is the founder of the DARP.
“This dinner was not a stand-alone event,” says Pr Michael Mohanu, Casey’s pastor. “As well as consolidating existing community friendships and starting new ones, it was a springboard for future events we will be running. We invited guests to participate in a DARP, CHIP or one of the other community programs we have been running for some time now. This is part of our commitment to the Great Commission, endeavouring to reach our community in new and creative ways.”
And while Dr Nedley was in Melbourne last weekend, Gateway Church took advantage of his presence, with two community lectures held at Monash University. Attendees were invited to attend community talks over the next three weekends, where church members will meet and mingle with the attendees, and from there invite them to join a Care Group, where they can socialise, support each other and study God’s word together.
The possibilities are endless, and as you can see collaboration between churches is possible, so give it some thought – could your church do it? Who would you like to see as your guest presenter or what theme would you like to explore? Talk it over with your pastor or contact the Harvest Victoria team and see where this could go. We can help with collaboration and may even be able to help with some of the funding. Give us a call at the office, 03 9264 7715, or visit us at vic.adventist.org.au/harvest-victoria for more details.