(You can download a PDF of this page’s contents here, if you like.)
The Times They Are A-Changin’
In our honest moments, most of us recognize that the church in America is in a bit of a tailspin. For several generations now, our attendance and influence have been falling dramatically.
We have less influence, and we’re making less of an impact.
Typically, we try to combat the feeling of LESS by doing MORE!
- We pump more money into our ministry budgets… but get less and less return on the investment.
- We create more content: books, sermons, curricula, conferences… but it’s having less and less of an impact.
- We try to get more relevant, using current trends and modern marketing techniques to get people interested, but fewer and fewer people are coming.
It’s as if the culture around us looks at the our attempts at MORE and says,
We’ve been trying MORE for awhile now, and the results are in:
MORE doesn’t work.
We need to take a step back and rethink our approach.
The Future is In the Past
To understand our current situation, and walk faithfully into the future, we need to look to the past.
Why? Because our problems aren’t new. Jesus and the early church had the same kinds of issues we see today.
In fact, they found themselves in a similar cultural climate to the one the church is beginning to experience:
- In the minority, on the margins
- Without power or status
- Viewed with suspicion
In other words, North America is quickly becoming a mission field.
That might feel like a daunting reality, here’s the remarkable fact:
The early church thrived in that challenging culture.
There were only a few hundred believers at the beginning of the church, and 300 years later the movement had grown to approximately 33 million people! (over half the Roman empire!)
Exponential growth! In the same kind of environment we have today!
How did they do it?
A Movement Born at the Table
The early church had the same problems as we have, and yet they managed to grow exponentially!
What was their secret?
It started with Jesus. Specifically, what Jesus did at meals. His table practices.
In fact, Jesus said that “eating and drinking” was the methodology of his ministry (Luke 7:34).
A lot of his ministry happened around a table. In the Gospels, Jesus seems to be:
- On his way to a meal
- Sitting down at a meal, or
- Coming from a meal.
Instead of trying to win people over with political maneuvering or military conquest, he invited people to sit down at a table to share a meal.
During his last dinner with his disciples, Jesus didn’t give them a list of rules to obey or a system of doctrine to believe, he gave them a meal to share.
Why was the table so significant for Jesus?
The Church Gathered at the Table
At the table, Jesus:
- Created space for people to encounter God and one another.
- Trained his disciples to embody the love of God for one another as a spiritual family.
- Made room to extend the love of God to the outcast and the stranger.
Following Jesus, “the table” became a key practice for the early church. It was how they made disciples and created Jesus-shaped communities that crossed racial and socioeconomic lines.
The table was the place from which they proclaimed the good news of Jesus, loved one another sacrificially, and served the cities in which they found themselves.
Disciples made disciples, communities gave birth to new communities, and the Holy Spirit birthed a movement that turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6).
How? They just kept making space for people to come to the table.
Re-learning the Table
We believe that recovering the practice of the table is one of the most important keys to effective mission today.
Rather than MORE resources, reach, and relevance, we need a MEAL.
We need to re-learn the table. The gospel is a meal. Jesus gospeled at a table and we must relearn how to do the same.
This is the guiding metaphor for our church plant, and…
it’s why we’re calling our church The Table.
Not because we’ve got it figured out, but because we want to learn to practice table in the 21st century.
We want to learn how to encounter, embody, and extend the reconciling love of God into our neighborhoods and networks.
As it grows, we envision The Table becoming a multiplying movement of Jesus communities throughout Indianapolis and beyond.
We’d also love to see YOU learn what it looks like to to practice the table in your context.
Blaze a Trail for the Church
We’ve planted a seed here, and God has done some amazing things in people’s lives already (including ours!)
But here’s the thing: this isn’t a “fast food/microwave” kind of thing. It’s more like a pot roast: if you hurry it, you ruin it.
Lots of churches go as fast as possible in an effort to become quickly self-sustaining, but we’re convinced that would be a mistake in our case.
So, to see The Table take root, grow, and multiply, we need people like you to partner with us in this work.
More than that, the church needs people like you who will blaze a trail so we can all thrive in the coming future.
Do you want to help the church re-learn the table?
Invest in the Future of the Church
Do you want to see discipleship and mission take root in your local context?
We are trusting God to raise up a team of individuals, families, and churches who share our vision and will partner with us to ignite the vision into reality.
Since The Table is a kind of “R&D lab” for the Church, we are actively looking for ways we can share what we are learning with those who partner with us.
In other words, we envision partnership with you as a two-way street. As you invest in our church plant, we invest in you by sharing what we are learning as we go.
This can take all kinds of different forms, but our heart is to cultivate a mutually beneficial partnership in the gospel with you that bears fruit both for us and for you.
We’re confident that in the economy of God’s kingdom, Jesus can take the little we offer him and multiply it to feed multitudes.
Will You Join Our Team as a Partner?
We are especially look for:
- 4-7 Partner Churches ($500-2000 / month)
- 10-25 Partner Families ($100-500 / month)
You can easily set up giving on our giving page.
Let’s start a conversation about what a mutually edifying gospel partnership could look like! Fill out the form below to get in touch!