Last night I went out for a fantastic Chinese Buffet with the good folks from Living Rock Church who live in Nuneaton, Bedworth and Bulkington. We meet together regularly to seek God, hear his word and encourage one another in the practical aspects of outworking our faith. However, recently I have been stirred again with the importance, not just of meeting together - but eating together.
Meal times are very significant in scripture. When we eat together we are sharing life. God expresses covenant over the meal table, and it is over his meal that we express that covenant with one another. Jesus was always eating with people.
Even in secular thinking the importance of eating together is understood. Sociologists agree that much dysfunctionality within the family unit can be traced to meal times. Families that eat together regularly and talk to each other over the table, are more stable and healthy than those that don't.
I believe this is one area of church life that we need to guard. If we are not careful the business-like aspects of running the church can overtake the family-like aspects of sharing life together. Presentations, memos, brainstorming sessions, feedback-forms and such, are all well and good in their proper place, but these all have their origin in the boardroom; they should never take precedence over the personal contact and sharing life that is the pattern that comes from the throne room.
Admin is essential (I know that, my wife is an Administrator), but admin always flows out of life - life never flows out of admin. The sad thing we learn from the church history of denominations is that the pattern of admin can remain long after the life has departed. If we don't want to become a cold business venture, a dysfunctional family, or a lifeless pattern of admin, we must keep the "eating together" in "meeting together."
I thank God that in Living Rock Church this is something we are good at. On Sunday we had a wonderful time of breaking bread and sharing life together. But I know there is more for me, and for us, to press into in this area.