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Table Life

Updated: Jul 18, 2022

Table life: Getting to the roots of the church and its beginning requires seeing many things in the gospel, including the time Jesus spent around tables. I cannot read the Gospels and avoid finding Jesus sitting at tables (or random places) with food and with people… teaching, discipling, loving, and growing together. To not see this in The Story is to miss something beautiful. The table is a wonderful place full of good food, good people, and good conversations. Some of the best stories about Jesus happened around tables. (see references from The Book of Luke at the end of this post)

My friend and mentor Leonard Sweet writes in his book From Tablet to Table;

“The story of Christianity did not take shape behind pulpits or on alters or in books. No, the story of Christianity takes shape around tables, as people face one another as equals, telling stories, sharing memories, and enjoying food with one another.” (pg.4-5)

Len goes on to expound on Jesus and the table as one of the key gathering places for he and his followers. Even the most sacred of Christian rituals, communion, happened at a table. Jesus and his disciples broke bread and shared drink as a symbol of his sacrifice and he followed it by saying, “do this in remembrance of me”. I hear Jesus saying, gather at a table, break bread and share a cup of wine, eat and drink it together, and remember me.

The table has become such an important part of my missional community ministry that in my own house, I rebuilt our family table, adding four feet to its length so that 12 people can gather around. (We can squeeze a few more in when we need to.) Most recently, I have been expanding the tables on our back porch where we gather in the warmer months. Whether we are around a dining room table, coffee table, picnic table, or even a campfire; When we sit together like this for food and conversation we encounter togetherness, discipleship, story telling, praying, good food, great joys, heartaches, tears, and so much more. At a table, we do not just feed each other, but we also feed our friendship and create memories.

Len writes, “Our culture is hungry for table time.” I must say that I agree with him… deep down in side, people are longing for this kind of connectedness with other people. People are longing for life-share-living. People are longing for the deep conversations and growing that happens around tables of food and discipleship. The traditional “church” we see today has lost that quality as it continues to become evermore consumer-driven. In an odd way, this pandemic we have been experiencing is an answer to prayer as the church is forced outside its man-made-buildings. As this occurs more and more, the church is rediscovering the art of neighborhood table gatherings.

The church was built around Jesus Christ, and so often at tables of food and conversation. Even when Jesus was traveling through the lands teaching, eating together was a central theme of what he did with his followers. Today, more than ever before, we need to return to the table. The spiritual nourishment is unparalleled, the relationships are paramount, and the food is delicious. Come to the table, my friends.

A few passages from Luke where Jesus met with people around tables. Outdoor spaces, and food:

Luke 5:27-32

Luke 7:36-50

Luke 9:10-17

Luke 10:38-42

Luke 11:37-53

Luke 14:1-24

Luke 19:1-10

Luke 14:22-38

Luke 24:28-32

Luke 24:36-43


From Tablet to Table, by Dr. Leonard Sweet. 2014, NavPress.

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