After almost five years, Potluck Church is leaving the safe, nurturing nest of our first home and moving out on our own.
It’s an exciting time. To start out, we are going to be a pop-up church--we’ll be trying a different location for a month at a time to explore were God might be settling us next. I’m re-assured by the line from Tolkien’s poem, “Not all those who wander are lost.”
Ours will be a journey of intentional wandering. Along the way, as we spread our potluck meal on new tables around town, we hope to meet new neighbors where they are and learn about different areas and spaces in our community. Watch the Connect page of our website (http://www.potluckchurch.com/connect-with-potluck-church.html) or our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/MadisonvillePotluck/) to see where we’ll pop up each month.
Our first pop-up will be this Tuesday, July 31, at 6pm at Kentucky Innovation Station at 38 W. Arch St., Madisonville (http://www.kentuckyinnovationstation.com), and then we plan to gather there on Tuesdays throughout August. Innovation Station is a beautifully restored train depot that houses co-working entrepreneurs and also the Madisonville Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation. The historic space is designed for collaboration, creativity, and connection. What will it be like to gather for worship around their tables? What will we learn about our neighbors? Join us to see for yourself!
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?
Alan Donegan of PopUp Business School recommends asking the following questions before you consider taking out a loan to start a business, and the same questions could serve us well as we consider starting a new ministry:
Maybe you need meeting space, a website, legal services, carpentry, or furniture. Many of these seemingly insurmountable steps in your vision of what you are going to need for your ministry can actually be obtained for free.
Because of the generosity of others, Potluck Church has received free legal services, website design, graphic design software, logo design, business cards, hand sanitizer, paper products, bins, start-up grants, candle lighters, grocery gift cards, leadership training, planter coaching, table decorations, fresh table flowers, and more--all for FREE!
And, thanks to the generous people of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Madisonville, Kentucky, we’ve borrowed over four years of meeting space, dishes, utensils, glasses, Bibles, Wi-Fi, a TV, a dishwasher, tablecloths, tables, chairs, sink, refrigerator space, restrooms, and utilities. (Thanks again, FCC Madisonville! We are forever grateful.)
In the beginning of starting a new church or ministry, it’s so easy to feel like you are all alone in an impossible calling, but the truth is none of us are alone. All around us are gifted people that God is also calling forth to join in the divine work, and when their callings and yours align, God creates an amazing synergy that makes us all greater than the sum of our parts. Lead with a generous sprit willing to share your own talents with others, and start seeking and asking for what you need.
So, can you start a new church or ministry for free? YES, by the grace of God and the gifts of God’s people.
On this Good Friday, I humbly ask that you come, Lord Jesus, and remind us yet again of why you died on that cross.
Remind us of those greatest commandments of loving our God with heart, life force, intention, and might, and of loving our neighbors as ourselves.
Remind us of the ransom--your executed body on display--demanded by the powers and principalities in order to strike fear and terror among the people who sought freedom from imperial rule and oppression.
Remind us, Lord Jesus, of all that is left undone, and give us the courage to continue in "The Way," even if it may mean that we, too, have to call out the greedy powers and tyrannical leaders, systems, and corporations in our own time.
What crosses are we to carry now, Christ Jesus?
Please remind us. We seem to have lost our way.
I’ve always admired people who have read the Bible cover to cover. It’s a grand accomplishment that requires disciplined dedication. I’ve started reading the Bible in this way many times, but midway through Exodus my daily discipline turns into an occasional practice that never survives through Leviticus.
A few months ago I heard someone reference the “snowball” model of debt reduction. Basically, the model is that when someone has a list of debts, this model suggests that it’s more effective to pay off the smallest debts (by amount) first. While mathematically a strategy of paying off debts with the largest interest rates first is a solid approach, a new study from researchers at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University found that the emotional motivation gained from paying off accounts through the “snowball” method led to better results long-term. (See http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/news_articles/2012/snowball-approach.aspx.)
This study got me thinking. What if I aimed to read the Bible as a snowball? I googled “Bible reading checklist” and printed off a checklist that has a check box for every single chapter in every book of the Bible. Then I started with the book that had the smallest number of chapters—Jude! In one sitting, I read a whole book of the Bible. Yay! And, instantly, I was hooked. The Bible Reading Snowball is working!
So here is a challenge to you. If you’ve been longing to be a regular scripture reader, consider joining me in the Bible Reading Snowball as we roll from Jude all the way through Psalms. No snow required.
It’s a joy sharing our experience with others. In recent weeks we’ve received several how-to questions about Potluck Church, and it got us wondering if those who read this blog might also have similar questions. So, here are three quick questions and answers:
How do you arrange the tables?
At present we place four 96” x 30”, plastic, heavy-duty folding tables together into a large rectangle and set up to 18 chairs around the large rectangle. Then we cover it with two barely overlapping king-sized white sheets to give us the look of a unified tablecloth. This allows us to all sit together and have one conversation around what feels like one table. In the center with the Christ candle we will have some sort of simple table decoration that will set our theme or enhance our worship time together in some way.
Do you have music in worship?
Other than times when we listen together to a piece of music that relates to our theme or scripture, or the annual Christmas caroling trip, we typically do not have music. The simple reason for this is that no one around the table currently has expressed an interest in sharing their gifts of music with us. Our worship is an authentic expression of the spiritual gifts present around the table when we gather. Music would be a wonderful way to worship in Potluck Church. This question reminds me that Matthew 26:30 tells us after Jesus and the disciples celebrated the Last Supper, they sang a hymn before they went out to the Mount of Olives. What a meaningful way to end such a meal!
How do we decide who prays?
We typically have an opening prayer and another dedicated time of prayer as we end our conversation and turn toward the bread and cup. Both of these are often spoken extemporaneously. Sometimes a topic or liturgical season will lead us toward a printed prayer that is recited. Whatever the style, type or method of prayer, we simply ask for volunteers in the moment. “Who would like to pray for our meal tonight?” Or, “Who would like to say a prayer for these prayers that we’ve shared?” Most nights someone will quickly speak up. If no one feels called to pray aloud, we will have a time of silence to say our own prayers from our hearts. By inviting everyone around the table into opportunities for leadership, we make the worship together.
What questions do you have about Potluck Church? Send me a message and we'll try to answer them as best we can.
Typically when I read Luke 2:8-14, it’s Linus’s voice that I hear in my head, telling us “what Christmas is all about.”* But, as I read the words this year, the phrase ἐφοβήθησαν φόβον μέγαν struck me. The NRSV translates it as “terrified,” but the phrase connotes some appropriately fearful reverence—the stuff of awe-inspired worship. Today, we so rarely use the phrase God-fearing, but many biblical encounters describe this sort of reverent fear of the divine.
At the turn of the year I often see the question,”What would you do if you were not afraid?” It’s an evocative question that can help uncover assumed obstacles and stir up possibilities within us. Fears can stop us in our tracks, and being able to articulate our fears can help us acknowledge them and move through the fear toward responsive action. It makes me wonder how the shepherds living on the hillside moved past their initial response (ἐφοβήθησαν φόβον μέγαν) and started walking to Bethlehem. The message for them is, in part, to not be afraid.
Then again, maybe fearful awe is an important accompaniment to faithful action. Maybe the question we should be asking isn’t “What would you do if you were not afraid?” Maybe instead we should be asking ourselves, “What might you do if you responded to the awestruck fear and allowed it to guide you into action?”
*Mendelson, Lee, Charles M. Schultz, Bill Melendez, Vince Guaraldi, Robert T. Gillis, David Benoit, Chuck McCann, et al. 2008. A Charlie Brown Christmas. Burbank, Calif: Warner Home Video).
written by Rachel
Set a table, invite Christ and others, leave an empty chair, serve up some powerful questions, and break bread.