How To Host A Missional Progressive Dinner

You know that feeling when you walk into church and see a ton of semi-familiar faces, but you don’t know the names of any of them? Or maybe you recognize a person’s name from your Homeowner Association’s Facebook Group, and you know they only live a street away, but you’ve never met face-to-face? I find myself a year and a half into a new town, so people are familiar but still unknown.

It’s the same within our campus ministry. It’s so easy for adults and students alike to mingle with the friends they know and never venture out to make new connections. Because we’ve been praying for deeper community for our students and because this translates just as easily into our church and neighborhood, I wanted to share “How To Host a Missional Progressive Dinner”.

The staff women on our team had a great time planning this simple and affordable event that helped many girls connect more authentically. 

First, we chose a home and hostess for each course of the meal. We did some simple publicity, handed out invitations at our weekly outreach meeting, made a grocery run, and that was that!
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Everyone arrived at my friend Amy’s house at 6 and we served appetizers and salad. She made a delicious Bruschetta, Caprese and Caesar Salad that got the evening started off deliciously!

We knew we wanted to be intentional with conversation throughout the evening and since deeper community is what we’ve been praying for our women’s ministry, we centered our questions around that topic.

We had the girls turn to discuss these questions at Amy’s house:

  1. Describe your best friend in 3rd grade.
  2. In your opinion, what stands in the way of authentic community?
Then we loaded up into cars and headed to my house for lasagna (thank you, Stouffer’s) and a balsamic bread dipping bar. (More on that Wednesday…I am in love.)
At my house we asked the girls to pair up with people they didn’t know and discuss the following questions:
  1. In what setting do you feel most comfortable talking about deep things? (On a run, on the phone, online, over a good meal, over coffee?)
  2. With what type of person are you most likely to open up?
  3. Share a time when someone else’s honesty gave you permission to be honest too. What made them feel safe?
Our grand finale was decadently drool-worthy desserts at my friend Meg’s house. We asked the following questions to the group at large this time (instead of them turning to the people around them to discuss):
  1. What are some signs or markers that a community is reaching a healthy level of vulnerability?
  2. How do you feel the women of Cru are doing at this?
  3. How could you help increase honest, transparent community in your sphere of influence? In Cru?
As the discussion naturally progressed, I shared a few devotional thoughts from 1 Peter 2:9-10.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

We printed out 1 Peter 2:9-10 in the NIV and walked word-by-word through the verse discussing our observations, interpretations and applications. Then I read to them from The Message, which added another layer to our discussion.

1 Peter 2:9-10 The Message (MSG)

9-10 But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

We talked about Western Christianity being very personal, individualistic and disjointed but how God has called us together as a people and a priesthood.
We discussed the perfect unity and community that existed within the Godhead, how that was broken by sin, how the story of the world is a story of redemption (using God’s Big Picture principles CAN’T RECOMMEND THIS HIGHLY ENOUGH) that rights all the wrong and heals all the brokenness.
We talked about the Church Age which is the community in which God’s rule and blessing are known and are on display so that in the Perfected Kingdom every tongue, tribe, and nation will be God’s people in God’s presence, enjoying God’s rule and blessing. The day is HERE and the day is COMING.
Why did we tell them the story of the world?

Because it’s too easy to live for the dot instead of for the line.

It’s too easy to be consumed with OUR schedules, OUR comforts, OUR egos, OUR images and OUR stuff and not live in light of what God’s been building up to all this time!
By our love for one another (community) they will know we are His.
By our investment in each other we will be spurred on toward love and good deeds and will be pumped up to reach the lost.
By being honest about ourselves and our sin in community we can leave the darkness and walk out into the His marvelous light.
But it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens in community.
We challenged the girls with a call to action knowing that He chose us “that we may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
For our intent and purposes our challenge was as follows, but you could tweak it according to your needs:
  • If every student leader is leading others we will reach the campus. (Sr–>Jr–>Soph–>Fresh)
  • If you’re pouring out, we want you to be present for us to pour into you through monthly womens’ discipleship times, leadership meetings, conferences, retreats and small groups.
  • If you come to Cru and wonder if it matters, make it matter for someone around you.

It was a really encouraging night and it was much more simple than I originally thought it would be. Sure you need paper products and drinks at each house, but when all you’ve got to do is one portion of a meal and 2-3 discussion questions?! Easy peasy. You can do it! I want to encourage you and your friends to give this a try! Let me know if you try this. I’d love to know any other ways you’ve seen success creating missional community in your home! 103

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