Ever noticed how people tend to open up and talk when there’s food between them?
I’ve observed that, when I’m sitting in another room with a person, we might talk. But if we sit in a restaurant munching on chips and salsa, we will talk. When food is on the table, we’re generally more relaxed and casual. And conversation happens.
Food—and more importantly, sharing a meal together—is a big deal in the Bible. In a study on hospitality in Bible Studies for Life, Tony Merida pointed out the abundance of references to food and meals in Scripture:
- In the garden of Eden, God made food available for Adam and Eve (Gen. 2:15-16).
- God delivered the Israelites from bondage and brought them to a land flowing with milk and honey (Ex. 3:17).
- The Israelites shared a meal at the Passover as a way to remember God’s work on their behalf (Ex. 12:1-28).
- In the wilderness, God provided water on more than one occasion, along with quail and bread from heaven, for the Israelites (Ex. 15:23-25; 16:4-35; 17:1-7).
- Jesus was known to be a friend of sinners, because He ate with them (Luke 7:34).
- The early church shared meals together and opened their homes to others in remarkably effective and gracious ways (Acts 2:42-47).
What was true for the early church as they “broke bread together” (Acts 2:42) is just as true for your Bible study group. Food implies hospitality, and hospitality invites openness and sharing. Consider how the presence of food can enhance your group’s discussion of God’s Word.
- Keep it simple. “Everyone bring your favorite dish” might work for a special occasion (like the conclusion of a series or book study), but on a weekly basis, food should resemble more snacks and finger foods. I’ve seen recently where a spread of breakfast food was offered each week, so families were skipping breakfast at home to stuff themselves at the group meeting! Consequently, if food is overlooked one week, the group members sit there starved, hungry for a sausage biscuit rather than God’s Word.
- Keep the focus on Bible study. Food is an enhancement to the Bible study, but it is not the purpose of the meeting. I’ve had to draw people away from the food when it felt like a feast. That’s why rule #1—keep it simple—is important. They are having great conversations, but I want that to continue over Bible study.
- Keep it organized. You likely have someone in your group with the gift of hospitality. This is the person who readily sees the value of food in the setting and may be the first to offer to bring something. Ask that person to help coordinate who brings food and when. This is not to be elaborate or complicated, but it can ensure that you don’t have 10 desserts one week and nothing the next. Once again: Rule #1—keep it simple—will keep this ministry task from being a burden.
Pass this idea along to your group … and then pass around the sausage balls.
Lynn Pryor is a team leader for adult resources at Lifeway. He and his wife, Mary, lead a Bible study group for young adults and have survived raising two sons to adulthood. A graduate of Southwestern Seminary, Lynn has previously pastored and served churches in Texas. Follow him on his blog at lynnhpryor.com.