In the early months of worshiping together as Potluck Church, we intentionally took our time to slowly establish a culture of trust. We each led by example in opening up our lives to one another and daring to share our doubts. But very quickly we came to realize that building trust was not hard around the table. Something about the table and the meal and the sharing of food opened us up to one another—even newcomers and strangers—in a deep way.
In a research article, “A recipe for friendship: Similar food consumption promotes trust and cooperation,” Kaitlin Woolley and Ayelet Fishbach write about how their study found that people who eat similar foods are more trusting of one another. Even though our meals are potluck, and our plates are somewhat varied based on self-selection, just the act of eating from a common table together, in itself, builds significant, deep, and seemingly lasting trust.
[See article: http://home.uchicago.edu/~kwoolley/Woolley&FishbachJCP.pdf. Hear more on NPR’s Morning Edition (Feb. 2, 2017): “Why Eating the Same Food Increases People’s Trust and Cooperation” http://www.npr.org/2017/02/02/512998465/why-eating-the-same-food-increases-peoples-trust-and-cooperation]
More than a recipe book, Maggie Stuckey’s, Soup Night: Recipes for Creating Community Around a Pot of Soup documents some of the many locations where neighbors and friends are gathering together regularly for a meal and connection. It’s a beautifully written and compiled collection—a how-to book that encourages the reader to cook up two seasonal pots of soup and invite some folks to sit together and eat. It warms my heart to read of how lives are connected and communities are built by these events, and yet we envision more.
Potluck Church is not just about eating together regularly; it’s about living out our faith in community. The questions that we ask one another give us a rhythm of accountability to ourselves and one another. We stop weekly to ask ourselves how we’ve experienced God and to honestly reflect on how we’ve lived out our commitments to follow Christ.
We don’t all have the same beliefs or the same hopes, but the common meal (made of various dishes and flavors) and the communion are symbols of the oneness that we find.
(See Maggie Stuckey. Soup Night: Recipes for Creating Community Around a Pot of Soup Storey Publishing, LLC, 2013.)
John Mark Hicks posed this very question to a gathering at Pleasant Valley Church of Christ. It’s an important question—especially for those of us who claim to follow Jesus.
Think about the meals you typically eat. Do you eat with strangers? Do you often find yourself at the table with those who think or act differently than you? With those who have different backgrounds than you? When you break bread, whom do you share that bread with? Do you dine with outcasts? Would the righteous and self-righteous judge you for the company you keep at the table?
Maybe it would be an interesting exercise to keep a list of the people around the tables where we sit and eat for a few weeks. What might we learn from such a list?
(See Pleasant Valley Church of Christ, ”Come to the Table: What is God Doing in the Lord’s Supper” with John Mark Hicks. YouTube video, 44:04. Posted Mar. 5, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwEm8b2Mpsw)
written by Rachel
Set a table, invite Christ and others, leave an empty chair, serve up some powerful questions, and break bread.