June 5

Several months ago a group of church leaders I’m a part of were organizing a lunch meeting. The text messages were whizzing back and forth with days and times when everyone was available. After a few exchanges the day was set, and then the time to meet was set. Only one detail needed to be addressed, in which restaurant should we meet? A friend threw out a suggestion that soon everyone acquiesced to… Applebees. I have found memories of Applebees. When Cherie and I were first married we had many “date nights” at the Applebees in Yuma, AZ. But, when this meeting was set it had been, maybe, years since I had been to an Applebees restaurant.

Just by happenstance, I read an article around that same time about the growing division among Americans. We live in a time and place where we no longer sit on front porches, we drive home from work and press a button, pull the car into the garage and then press a button again to barricade ourselves in our homes. We build privacy fences, screen calls and have doorbells with cameras so we can decide whether or not we’ll open the door. We have less and less contact with anyone, and this only contributes to the growing divide among people. The article I read was about a study conducted by Maxim Massenkoff and Nathan Wilmers. This study analyzed a ton of geolocation data trying to determine where Americans come into contact with other folks from different income classes than themselves. Do you want to know the most common place this occurs? Chain restaurants.  

“These days, Americans seem divided by almost everything. But you know what has proved successful at bringing Americans of different backgrounds together? Unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks. Also, riblets, onion rings, chicken crispers, and other crowd-pleasers from affordable chain restaurants such as Olive Garden and Applebee’s.”

The truth is, that even in these chain restaurants where people from different neighborhoods, backgrounds and income classes might dine adjacent to one another there isn’t any true interaction between them. The church should be a community where we simply aren’t living adjacent lives. In the New Testament the greek word most often translated as “fellowship” is “koinonia.” It is a word that doesn’t have a strong English equivalent. It is more than socializing or chatting with someone between worship services, it means “holding our lives in common.” I can’t think of a place that symbolizes “holding our lives in common” more than the dinner table. I bet if you think about some of the most meaningful conversations you’ve had with people you care about that they happened around a meal.

This summer we want to up our fellowship game at Wallula Christian Church. We are organizing groups of six people to share a meal a few times together this summer. We are calling these groups, Summer Suppers for Six. We want you to meet some folks you haven’t met, or at least haven’t had the opportunity to get to know too well before. You can register to be a part of one of these groups on our website. 

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

- Acts 2:46-47