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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Table Along the Way

Wow! PTM was invited to a meeting last month in which we were encouraged to be part of a new "Mission Table." This Mission Table is part of a new way to bring missional outreach into our area of the world. I couldn't say no.

So we are sitting there trying to think of biblical and theological metaphors for using table ministry...wait for it... wait..............................there you go. After I'd referred them back to all the blogs on this site, I started to rattle off a few other things I haven't gotten around to writing yet. One of the folks stopped me, and said..."Listen, Scott, we just heard about this "table thing" five minutes ago. You've had two years!" So I went and got a coffee...

Actually I have been using table imagery for ministry pretty much ever since I started. In our tradition we have two sacraments (baptism and communion), and I always gravitated more to the communion side for its sociological and relational aspects. Communion clearly involves other people than you and God, baptism is not necessarily that way...Anyway, for whatever reason, communion has always been central to my ministry and theology...(it is no coincidence that I wrote on the Greek Orthodox theologian John Zizioulas for my dissertation...his major work is called "Being and Communion.") Since I have been so captivated by communion, I have thought about tables and how God uses them for us for a long time. Way more than 2 years!

One of my favorite metaphors was taught to me by my teacher Patrick Keifert. (If you have never met this guy, you really should. He's brilliant.) Anyhow, he suggested once that a metaphor for congregations could be a "table along the way." That is, congregations could be a resting point or theological guidepost for people on a spiritual journey. You wouldn't stay at this congregation for your whole journey with God, but the congregation would provide a place for you at a certain stage in your journey. Prairie Table is very much a "table along the way."

At PTM we do not expect everyone to be part of our conversations and ministries forever. We are built to have short-term relationships. (There is a core of us who are addicted to conversation and God, but we realize most have the sense to get out and do ministry.) So you might only be with PTM for a year or so...maybe less, maybe only 2 or 3 weeks...but that's OK. You might be a member of another congregation...that's OK, we don't have membership, so there is no conflict of interest...You might be searching for an established congregation...(we don't really work for those folks...some people just need a bit more structure)...But if you need a place to discern where you are in your journey with God, we are there for you. You need some communion with others who are struggling with their faith...we're here...You need some people who will pray with you, celebrate with you, mourn with you in a time of crisis...we are here...At PTM we are just a table along the way...Your way...God's table...and our blessing to be part of that journey.

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