We’ve been receiving more great questions lately, so I thought I’d share a few of them here in another FAQ round-up:
Where do you gather for worship?
In July of 2018 we started living into a pop-up model of gathering, changing our location from time to time. To find out where we are gathering this week, check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MadisonvillePotluck/.
What should I wear to a Potluck worship?
Most of us seem to come to worship in comfortable, casual clothes. Some of us come directly from our workplaces, so we come in our work clothes, whatever they may be. This week I wore my church camp t-shirt and jeans. Someone else wore a plaid shirt and khakis because he had come directly from a meeting. Another wore her work attire of a dressy shirt and dress pants. Others wore t-shirts and jeans.
Where else can I read more about Potluck Church?
We are so excited and honored to be a part of an important new book that will be coming out May 14, We Will Feast: Rethinking Dinner, Worship, and the Community of God. The author, Kendall Vanderslice, visited nine dinner church communities across the country and chapter by chapter highlighted about each one. Potluck Church is chapter 7, “On Membership.”
We Will Feastchronicles Potluck’s journey into becoming church. It shows our gratitude to First Christian Church of Madisonville, who nested and nurtured us in for those early years. It describes what we have discerned of God’s vision for this community thus far. And, it tells of the answers we have yet to discern.
It’s a beautifully written book. For instance, check out this sentence from Page 101:
Week after week they see community deepen between men and women from
many backgrounds, between folks who come because they so deeply love Jesus
they want to spend all the time they can at his table and folks who come because
they ache so deeply that they need a fistful of bread as a reminder that Jesus
exists at all.
It’s so true; God continues to gather such a diverse group of people around our worship table, and yet we come with an attitude of respect and humility. No topics or questions or vulnerabilities seem to be off limits. We respect faith, and we respect doubt. Two of the lines on Page 99 of We Will Feast that really capture a unique aspect of Potluck Church read:
In this space, the diverse needs are not only heard and lifted up to God together,
but methods for responding to those needs are offered as well. And on those
weeks when some members choose to keep concerns to themselves, their potluck
offering can still provide unspoken insight into what’s going on.
What a gift to be described through the eyes of another--in a published book no less! And, what an honor to have our story told alongside these other eight creative dinner church communities. We are deeply grateful to Kendall for making the trek out to western Kentucky and for sacrificing her time to give her gifts in service to God in this way.
If you would like to learn more about Kendall’s work, download her free group discussion guide and pastor/church leader resource kit, or pre-order a copy of We Will Feast, please visithttp://kendallvanderslice.com/we-will-feast. And, to read a sample chapter, please click the menu tab on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MadisonvillePotluck/.
(Vanderslice, Kendall. We Will Feast: Rethinking Dinner, Worship, and the Community of God. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2019)
I’ve found that at the end of a stressful day, or when I’m struggling with a problem that seems too big to handle, or if I’ve gotten crosswise with someone, if I can just step into the kitchen and take a moment to cook a dish—any dish really—I come out in a better place in the end.
The kitchen is one of my happy places. It is the closest thing I have to an artist studio. Chopping and whisking and stirring put me in a mentally restful zone of creativity. Cooking is one of those activities that produces something tangible in short order. Unlike much of my work, cooking has a finish line, an end point, a result. However the dish turns out, I can look at it and say, “I made this.”
As God’s creatures maybe we all need spaces in our lives to be creators. But what elevates this experience to the next level is having the opportunity and privilege of sharing my dish with another person who is eager to eat. What joy!
Last year our family took a vacation to Washington, D.C. In the weeks before we left several folks recommended that we MUST put the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History on our things-to-do list. I confess that the name instantly turned me off. Cavernous halls of large displays of dinosaur bones instantly came to mind. Not my thing! (Sorry, dino lovers.) Well, we went—mostly to say that we did to all of those who were determined that we go. It was AMAZING!
The best part was the interactive education area for tweens and teens called Q?rius (pronounced curious). Part of this area is the Collection Zone--a giant room of hundreds of drawers with thousands of specimens to be taken out of storage, touch, put under a microscope and explore. Our minds were blown. Instead of walking through halls of reported information about displays, the museum has turned itself inside out and given the visitor the ability to tap into one’s own curiosity and do hands-on exploration. (See more at https://qrius.si.edu/what-qrius-experience.)
As a parent, I’m a big believer in stoking a child’s curiosity and keeping a child’s zeal for learning alive. We do this by reading books together to do deep-dives on topics of interest, asking open-ended questions, and googling things together that we don’t know. In our parenting we confess the limits of our understanding and knowledge. But Q?rius was a place where my husband and I could step out of the role of broker or facilitator and just let our child explore with abandon.
It made me wonder…is there a way to turn the church inside out in such a way that those who encounter it might explore and seek out answers to their own questions and curiosities about the Christian life and scriptures? What would that look like?
[After reading the poem “The Plastic Angel” by Ann Weems, extend the invitation by saying. . .]
Sometimes we come to this table feeling sort of plastic, as if our own annunciations are feeble—filled with doubt. But from the beginning, this table has always been a place that made room for those who doubt, those who misunderstand, those who talk a good game, those who miss the messages, those who loose hope, and those who lack glory. And, yet, Jesus welcomed them around the table.
There is a place for us here.
[See Ann Weems, “The Plastic Angel,” in Kneeling in Bethlehem (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1987), 43. Currently available to be viewed via Google Books.]
Our recent conversations at worship have focused on the Protestant Reformation as we celebrate its 500th anniversary. It’s amazing to consider the legacies of the reformers—scripture in the vernacular, the priesthood of all believers, and the elevation of hymn singing, to name a few. Where would simple models of church be today if not for the reformers who sometimes gave their lives for a simpler, more accessible church that felt more true to their beliefs?
Yet, 500 years later, it seems like the reformation remains incomplete. If we are each invited into the ministry of all believers, and God is available to us and worthy of our worship at any time and place, then surely there is more reform to be received in God’s reign. God is not finished with us yet.
If you were to write 95 theses to the church today, what conversations might they spark? Are there reforms or protests that you are feeling called to articulate or help enact?
One of the many benefits of attending the Leadership Academy hosted by the Disciples of Christ’s Hope Partnership for Missional Transformation is that they assign you a coach that will journey with you for a while. Potluck Church’s behind-the-scenes coach is Dr. Preston Adams—a man who has known the joys, challenges and pitfalls of starting new efforts, including new churches. The role of the coach is to ask questions, to listen and to return us back to our vision and mission when we find ourselves overwhelmed or adrift. The coach holds us accountable, without being paternalistic. Nurturing questions drive the conversation forward.
If you are starting a new congregation or ministry, let me encourage you to seek out a formal coaching relationship that will journey with you over the challenges and through the transitions and doubt-filled wilderness times. Find a coach that will pray for you and your ministry, celebrate with you at the smallest of victories and help you to see and keep watch. Because it is through sustained attention and focus that you will see God building your ministry.
Thank you, Dr. Adams and Hope Partnership.
written by Rachel
Set a table, invite Christ and others, leave an empty chair, serve up some powerful questions, and break bread.