When Paula and I think back over the years, the most precious times of spiritual progress for others and us was in the most casual settings – and often in our home. I have Jesus as a model – and I also have Margie Andrews, my mother.
Mom created a world of two kinds of people. Those who would walk into our house, go straight to the refrigerator to see what was in it, and those who didn’t know they could! The only people who thought the fridge was off limits were first timers. Second timers knew differently. I can hardly remember a single evening dinner meal that happened without friends and guests. In high school we would host student body parties when kids were running for school offices. Gallons of poster paint, glitter, spills and mess was a regular part of the Andrews’ home. It was a glorious place of community.
Paula’s dad, the father of four daughters, decided that if he wanted to know the boys that were hanging around his daughters, he had to keep the refrigerator full. It worked, so we carried the tradition forward with our children. The grocery bills stayed high, and so did the amount of conversation and friendship. Paula’s mom used to say, “If your house isn’t clean, just put more food out and no one will notice!”
I recently saw an article written by a pastor named Chad Ashby. He reminds us that it was Christ’s plan to advance his kingdom through dinner tables, recounting the places in Acts where it said that the early believers were always eating together. And modern people forget that in so many cultures, the idea of some people being “not allowed” to dine with others was (and is) terribly divisive and not the spirit of Jesus. The spirit of darkness gets pushed back when we can say to anyone, anytime, any gender, any ethnicity, “just go to the fridge – whatever you can find is yours!” My favorite phrase from Chad’s writing is that “God has made forks and spoons, pans, pots, and plates weapons of war against the darkness.” The use of “koinonia” in scripture had a few meanings, including “communion.” So for thousands of years, the communion table (both formal and informal) has represented the new way of living – not to separate people but bring them together. Is it possible that when we open our refrigerator, we are serving communion? In a world where people are continually more connected and more alone than ever, I need to remember that Jesus’ way of spreading the good news of love, forgiveness, and togetherness in God’s kingdom was very simple. And pretty much anyone can copy his strategy. No graduate degree in theology needed. Walk with people. Eat with people. Chat with people. Let them in. Open the fridge. They can resist a lot of church programs, but the simplicity of your generous presence as a Jesus follower is more powerful that you can even imagine. Modeling Jesus’ very simple system of devoting time and presence to people can have a huge ripple effect to advance his Kingdom. The message of Jesus has the power to spread from one individual to another in a beautiful domino effect of transformation. One person helps another person who helps another person. It’s simple and relational and has exponential impact.
Our fall Leadership Gathering, on September 21 at Troy campus, is focused on Kensington’s value of Reproduce-ability. Leaders of all kinds across all of our campuses are invited to gather together for inspiration and practical teachings related to how we speak into the lives of those in our circle of influence. We’ll consider how to “reproduce” faith in others, and how to disciple and develop other leaders. Register at kensingtonchurch.org/lead