When Mr. Bob and I lived in south Louisiana there were so many amazing restaurants we learned we’d cover more ground if we made a special night out like a progressive dinner. We’d stop at one restaurant for sausage gumbo, another for crawfish etouffee’, and still another for bread pudding and cafe’ au lait. The food was a delight, but it was the varied tables and settings along with the travel in-between which added so much more to the meal.

A progressive dinner is an occasion at which the different courses of a meal are eaten at different locations. A progressive dinner invited our 3rd-5th graders to enjoy some intergenerational table-life with each other and their church family for our last gathering of the school year. 

April has Easter and Spring Break. May is December-in-the-spring for our families. The end of March is the last monthly gathering of our 3rd-5th graders for the school year.  If we say we’re partnering with families, we offer them margin in April and May by finishing special, ongoing programming in March.

Progressive Dinner, Sunday March 27th, 3:45-7pm
Start with a 20 minute review at the church of the specific liturgical holidays studied over the school year and how each one reminds us of Jesus. This allows space for review and late-arrivers.
Stick-on name tags with first names let our hosts call the children by names.

Three locations were arranged as follows:
* Appetizer was nearby – various hot and cold (served by young newly weds in their first home)
* Main course was further away from the church – all things taco (served by a parent and their adult Sunday school class)
* Dessert was the furthest away from the church – homemade family recipe of pound cake, cookie bars, and ice cream (served by a couple who’ve been part of the church family for more than 30 years).

At each home we asked our hosts before we ate to tell how they’d come to be part of our church’s family and where they serve at church and in the world. Our hosts then blessed the food and gave instructions. 

Our hosts decided what to serve. I contacted them on Saturday with an attendance estimate. On Sunday I texted an estimated time of arrival and when we were headed their way.

Other details: Water was the beverage of choice. Multiple tables along with some standing space to learn to hold a plate and eat standing up. The party number grew as we progressed to the locations. Our two bus drivers serve as leaders on church committees and looked great in their McEachern Kids’ t-shirts they’d been gifted with at prior events – I didn’t even have to ask, they chose those t-shirts on their own. 

I brought games with us for down time, but we never had time as the conversations were plentiful and the laughter over-the-top. Some parents took us up on our offer to join the ride and they, too, were able to get to know new friends and enjoy some great food. Even our pickiest eaters were delighted.

Lagniappe (extra) delights? Our two bus drivers are granddads and will be talking about driving the children and their families when they gather at their next committee meetings AND our older littles spent time with the Titus 2 men and women of their home church in their homes around their tables. Sticky faith memories for everyone!

If you grew up in the local church, especially a smaller to mid-size local church, what intergenerational experiences do you recall which could be re-introduced in a fresh way with your church family?

“Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Romans 15:7