Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 84

FOOD AS A SYMBOL OF GRACE - Harper Man 11: One of the things that I think about is church community and food. Some of the church contexts I grew up in had a lot of food around them. We had an evening service and a morning service. After the evening service, you would go downstairs and there were all these snacks. They were always having potlucks. People were bringing things. There was a lot of relationship building in community around food, because people would come with their food. In the last number of years in all the churches I’ve attended, that’s been very minor. They don’t do that very much. I think that’s one reason it’s harder to build some of those connections with other people in your faith community. BH: And if we talk about church growth in America over the past thirty or forty years, what kind of church is it going to be hardest to have a meal in? A mega church. Real tough to have a meal in a church with ten thousand people. It’s really easy to have a meal at a church with a hundred and fifty people. In the church where I grew up, we ate together all the time. I grew up in this church called the Evangelical Free Church and short for that was the E-Free Church. And because we had so much eating in our church, people came to know it as the Eat-Free Church. There was space at the table; there was food for you. It’s much easier to do in a small church than in a mega church. So here we are in a country where our own principles of church growth have mitigated against community, at least in the area of eating. We have to look at that and say, is that the way we ought to be going? Is the mega church the church of the future? I kind of hope not. Woman 6: It’s very similar to the food system that has grown and industrialized to be bigger. We’re eating from this industrialized huge system, but we aren’t eating together. BH: It’s the industrial revolution of church growth, the mega church. I go to a mega church. I don’t like mega churches. There’s almost nothing I like about mega churches, but the reason I’m there is the relationships. Man 12: So for me, in our culture in Hawaii, it’s almost forbidden to eat alone. If you see someone eating alone, you go and ask, can I sit here? Sometimes you don’t even ask; you just go and sit next to them and bring your plate. I’ve noticed that it’s the complete opposite here. In restaurants in Hawaii, you find the empty booth. You don’t want to be rude, but you end up talking across the room. I think being communal is how Christians should be. For instance, you look in the cafeteria and you see someone alone, unless 81