Over the next few weeks I am going to be posting portions of a pamphlet I wrote sometime ago entitled "Kitchen Table Evangelists - Be One: The Gospel Impact of Eating." Yeah, I know - it's not exactly the catchiest title ever dreamed up... but what it lacks in zip it makes up for in length. It is my prayer that these posts will be helpful to each of you and that the Lord will encourage you to use your kitchen table as a tool in the great work of evangelism.
Green Camp, Ohio
May 1, 2015
Kitchen Table Evangelists - Be One
The Gospel Impact of Eating
by Rev. R.A. Crabtree
Don’t start with a big program.... Start personally and start in your home. I dare you. I dare you in the name of Jesus Christ. Do what I am going to suggest. Begin by opening your home for community … You don’t need a big program. You don’t have to convince your session or board. All you have to do is open your home and begin.
Ah-ha! Here's the real reason we're reluctant to accept Schaeffer's dare.
Go ahead and admit it! We are too program oriented for our own good. If there is a hiccup in the financial market we look for our government to implement some new program to resolve it. If there is a bullying epidemic in our schools we want our school systems to implement a strategic initiative to fix it. If there are too many concussions in football we expect the game to be changed to protect player’s brains. And on and on the list goes. Unfortunately, this tendency of ours to implement programs to address perceived problems is not limited to the realms of finance, education, or sports – this is also a mentality that we sometimes bring into the work of evangelism and community building. For example, if a church perceives that people aren’t attending because they don’t like neckties that church might implement a billboard campaign featuring ripped jeans and sandals. If another congregation thinks that the music of the church is perceived as dull and out-of-date they might implement a hipper, trendier, pop-culturally-acceptable genre. And on and on it goes.
Of course programs, initiatives, and strategies are not bad in and of themselves (in so far as they enhance Christian fellowship, encourage Christian growth and promote evangelism) but programs are not necessarily... well... necessary. There is a great deal that Christians can do to advance the Kingdom apart from the “official" programs, ministries, agendas, and/or gimmicks of any given local church.
I contend that all you really need is the example of Jesus, love for others, a kitchen table, and something to eat.
Let's start with the example of Jesus...
the messiah's meal ministry
Go ahead... what would your answer be?
You might say that He came preaching, or healing, or teaching, and of course you would be correct. But what was His modus operandi? That's another question entirely.
In Luke 7:34 we find Jesus, Himself providing an answer to this question; ‘the Son of Man came eating and drinking.’ Eating and drinking quite a lot actually! New Testament scholar Robert Karris says: ‘In Luke’s Gospel Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal.’ In fact, Jesus does this so much that His opponents accused Him of being a ‘a glutton and a drunkard’ – someone who eats too much and drinks too much.... hmmm.... these are interesting thoughts about Jesus wouldn't you say? So let's try to sort through them a little bit.
To begin with, whenever we see Jesus referring to Himself as ‘The Son of Man,’ we need to carefully note what He is saying. He is borrowing this title from the Old Testament prophet Daniel who foresaw the coming of a figure called the Son of Man. According to Daniel, this figure would be a representative of both God and God's people. He would come in glory and would receive from God authority over all nations (see Daniel 7). During His earthly ministry the Lord Jesus openly applied this title to Himself, indicating that He was - in fact - the person who Daniel foresaw... none other than the long awaited Son of Man.
Now that this is clear, let's again think through our question very carefully; when the Son of Man came to earth what did He do? The Jews expected him to come with a bang, defeating God’s enemies and vindicating His people. But this is not what He did... He will do these things when He comes the second time, of course.... But when He came the first time, according to Luke.... He came to share a meal. Because He did so there are many applications for His followers today.