It’s one thing to have a meal, quite another to share the table with Christian friends in the community wearing church t-shirts identifying where you come from. When I began hearing the Lenten sermon series for 2023 was ‘Journey to the Cross’, I raised an eyebrow. Now I’m the first one to share the account of our salvation by the sacrifice, death, and resurrection of our Jesus with little people in a developmentally appropriate way, but how do I make that journey relative to little people for a season? It got me thinking.

One of the major parts of planning for a trip or journey is to answer the all-important-question “What’s for dinner?” 

Wanting to bring our Lent celebration outside the church, we decided to offer Lent Dine-outs each Thursday during Lent at a local restaurant. We are inviting everyone and anyone to stop by a local restaurant we’ve already made arrangements with anytime between 6-7:30pm to enjoy a meal with other Christians.

We chose and called restaurants near the church where ‘kids’ teams’ celebrate after games because the staff would be accustomed to handling a large group and navigating multiple tickets since everyone will be paying for their own meals. We also called on restaurants we knew were owned by or the employers of church members.

Each week we’re promoting over social media and the Sunday bulletin where we’ll be. Last week we came in second on that location’s trivia night with the youngest being a 2 year old alongside littles, middles, youth, adults, including senior saints. We set the table for intergenerational and multigenerational table-life at its best.  Even though the first Thursday was Winter Break, the turnout and experience was fantastic.

We’ve designated a host/hostess for each dine-out to arrive about 15 minutes early to place laminated cards on a couple of tables and remind the staff who we are and what we’ll be doing. We’ll be sure to love the staff well and our folks will practice a bit of Christian testimony-tipping and generosity. 

I’m even covering the times Jesus had a meal or tasty beverage along his journeys in the weekly Children’s Moments. This week we’re heading to Moe’s. I started the children’s moment with, “I wonder if every time someone walked into our church we greeted them with, ‘Welcome to McEachern!’” with the same enthusiasm. This week we chatted about how a long conversation between Jesus and a gal at a well over a drink of water at lunchtime (John 4) set the table for a whole region to come to know Jesus.

If you are on our side of town, we invite you to come to the table where we’ll eat, where we’ll enjoy some tasty beverages, where we’ll tell some stories, learn a few things, and play some games. We’re headed outside the church walls and being a good neighbor.

Lenten dine-outs…it’s what’s for dinner on Thursday nights!

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:11-13