I bought this book at The Gospel Coalition back in 2011. John and I were feeling particularly passionate about community groups and home churches at the time, and this book promised to speak to the heart of home-based missions.
A Meal with Jesus describes the importance of meals as enacted grace, community, hope, mission, salvation, and promise. It identifies the importance of sharing meals throughout Scripture, focusing specifically on the book of Luke but drawing connections with other examples in the Old Testament (think of Abraham's meal for the three unnamed visitors, or the feast for the prodigal son's return).
The book also shares stories of people who've been impacted by the simple sharing of a meal: a son-in-law who finally felt welcomed into the family through marzipan cake, fresh New England lobster and clams for a tired lecturer, homemade curry in honor of a neighbor's Kurdish New Year, and many others. Simple acts of kindness that impacted entire communities.
If you are like me and slightly phobic about hosting parties, movie nights, or even coffee with a friend, this book will help gently nudge you in the right direction. It's truthful without being curt, and earnest without being pushy. I plan on pulling this one off the shelf again soon.
Favorite Quote: "Jesus didn't run projects, establish ministries, create programs, or put on events. He ate meals. If you routinely share meals and you have a passion for Jesus, then you'll be doing ministry."
Book Club Potential: While I know of community groups that have used this book as a platform for their weekly get-togethers, I think this book works best when read alone or with a spouse. Why? Because it's talking about how you'll do ministry through inviting people into your home. So if you walk this road with fear and trepidation (like me), you might feel apprehensive about sharing your concerns with a room full of people who are excited about jumping right in and hosting dinners each week.
Recommended Age: Anyone who lives in a dwelling and could (theoretically) invite people over to said dwelling for some sort of food.
Buy/Checkout: Buy. Buy two or three and give them to people who do a great job with this type of ministry. It will not only make their day to know you think so highly of them, but it will open up opportunities for some great conversation. And you'll probably be invited over for a meal...