“They Shall Know Us By Our Parties”

They Shall Know Us by Our PartiesInteresting recent article at Her.meneutics, a blog connected to Christianity Today.

I first thought that the caption was ironic or sardonic (I have trouble telling the difference). Surely the author intended to criticize the partyingfellowshipping ways of evangelical Christianity. But I was mistaken (it happens).

I was confronted with the power of party as Christian witness last Christmas, following a performance of Handel’s Messiah at Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville. Afterwards, the church served an elaborate display of homemade soups and desserts, enough to feed thousands in the crowd. I’d been to my share of church potlucks and picnics, but this was something special: a delicious, extravagant, God-reflecting act of hospitality.

This is part of the philosophy at Christ Presbyterian. The congregation hosts three large-scale parties a year, drawing in between 2,000 and 3,000 a piece, with attendance split between church members and people from their community in Nashville.

So this congregation has decided to be known for its hospitality through parties.

“Though it is not the primary goal of our larger parties—we celebrate and have fun for its own sake, because Jesus always seemed to be feasting—it becomes an entry into the life of our church,” pastor Scott Sauls told me. “It’s one of many ways to dispel the false idea that Christianity limits our fun. It’s actually the opposite.”

The church encourages its small groups and members to apply this philosophy on a smaller scale. Any occasion becomes an excuse to have 20 to 100 people over: holidays, the Grammys, the Final Four.

What do you think?

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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11 Responses to “They Shall Know Us By Our Parties”

  1. David Himes says:

    I think fellowship is why God called us to gather

  2. …but that money could have been used to care for the poor…

    Which one of the Apostles said that? Oh, yeah, that one.

  3. Becky says:

    They will be known by their fruit….I don’t see “party” in the list of the fruit of the Spirit. I find that I like to read people from 100+ years ago who knew Jesus should be central in all writing. Today, we hear so much foolishness. I have no problem with occasional events, but did an article need to be written about it? Couldn’t writing exclaim HIS excellencies? We have become the Church of the First Opinion!

  4. I’m tired of hearing Christians apologize for eating together. A huge part of Old Testament worship was built around shared meals, and this continued on to the New Testament church. Eating and drinking in the presence of God is something his people did regularly.

    Yes, we need to know how to feast and party together. Especially doing so to honor God. We often have meals honoring individuals; I think we need to recapture the spirit of feasting to show our thankfulness to God.

  5. Dwight says:

    Within the conservative coC we argue a dichotomy in this regards. We are against the concept of the “social gospel”, but only when it involves the church building and the assembly. After all I have been to gatherings where young adults will play all day and then in between have bible studies and/or prayer and/or religious singing hosted by a family at their house. And then within the church building we will have VBS (vacation bible school) for the very young where we make the class material fun as taught by the adults, but those same adults that teach would be against doing this for other adults. Either these things are wrong in all situations or they are not wrong in all situations. We will gladly open our houses for a pot luck and then have singing and bible study, but will not allow food into the building. God never made such distinctions. Jesus ate with sinners and his apostles, taught God, healed, ate, healed, ate, talked God. The gospel was social because Jesus was social.

  6. John says:

    “As a rule, it was the pleasure-haters who became unjust”.
    W. H. Auden

    Those on the other side of our church walls recognize the hypocrisy of “Pleasure is wrong except when it suites us”, as well as how it leads to injustice and oppression of those we fear who are living the open lives that we live ourselves in secret.

    The only thing that breaks down this mistrust is “sitting at table with them”. Jesus practiced the very thing that many church members today insists “weakens our witness”. The embracing of our neighbor and the letting go of our own spiritual arrogance and ego comes when we “eat from the same plate”, so to speak.

  7. Dwight says:

    Ironically, we reject eating with strangers (and often our own brethern) within the church building walls, and will eat with those who are brothers and sisters who have turned against God in deference to the scriptures, outside the church building walls.

  8. jbevans says:

    Maybe the word “party” is a bit pejorative to some but it really speaks of fellowship which is essential. Let us enjoy one another and let all the world see the love of Jesus for one another. Didn’t someone once say “by this shall all men know that your are my disciples if you have love for one another?” Obviously fellowship is a part of the body and must be balanced against other parts but there is nothing wrong with it…in the building or out!

  9. Mark says:

    If you look at the Jewish community, they still come together for dinners for the anti-defamation league and Jewish Federation and that includes all denominations. I have never seen the cofC community in a town or county come together for anything but a funeral. Obviously the cofC has to accept as brethren members of other churches of Christ down the road first before inviting others.

  10. James says:

    When a person lived too far away from Jerusalem to bring his crops & livestock for the tithe (logistical difficulty), they were commanded by God to sell the goods and bring the tithe. But an often overlooked part of this command was that they go and buy tons of food and drink (and no, not just iced tea) and have a big celebration (aka party) together at the temple grounds. As Gerald Paden pointed out, God was the host of the party and it was grand celebration of the fellowship of God and man.

    (Deuteronomy 14:22-26)

  11. Richard constant says:

    What would be nice if we remodeled All the buildings.
    Open them up brought in couches and served coffee and donuts sandwich a place where people could sit all day long 7 days a week enjoy one anothers company.
    A place where kids could come young people.
    Instead of going to Starbucks.
    Paying for a cup of coffee if we can afford it like we were in Starbucks.
    And use the proceeds on percentage wise basis to help everyone.
    Stead of having the government help everyone.
    So to speak.
    fellowship and relationship?
    possibilities are endless.
    one thing that constant about everything is change. New love is old love the question is how old and if the Scriptures are any example in the first covenant we can sure see how not to do it…

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