With the sun setting and a slight breeze picking up, my wife and I look at the table spread before us with no small sense of anticipation. We are about to participate in our third Generosity Dinner. In a few hours, some needs of people we know and care about will be met.
I think of this snap shot from the early church:
They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
The evangelism strategy of the early church was food. They spent time together around a table, sharing meals and being church. As they ‘churched’ together, people were attracted to who they were as much as they were drawn to what they were doing.
Fast forward 2000 years. A group called Common Change has started something similar and is inviting everyone to attend.
The concept of a Generosity Dinner is quite simple. Host a meal–ours is in a park, yours might be in your home or at a restaurant. Each person who comes is invited to bring something. But instead of the dish that they would bring to a potluck, the guests bring cash.
We share a meal together and get to know each other. But we all put our offering into the common pot.
Then, we share some ideas around generosity.
There is enough, someone says, for everyone’s need, but not everyone’s greed.
Usually when needs come up, we start at a place of scarcity and scramble to meet the need. What if we we started with a sum of money (say, a tenth of our income) and decided together how to meet needs with it?
A lot of giving is done via a third party like a church or non-profit. What if we committed to no more than one degree of separation in giving? What if we used our resources to meet the needs of people we meet on our streets and in our cities?
After a Generosity Dinner, we share the stories of people we know who have some kind of need. We request the wisdom of the group and try figure out simple ways to help people. At the end of the evening, we take the money we have collected and direct it towards some of the different needs.
A woman in a wheelchair gets a prepaid mobile phone to help her stay connected and organize rides. An undocumented friend gets money to pay a licence fee for the motorbike he rides to work. Everyone agrees to help find a place to stay for a young man who is heading off to a distant town to study. We agree to help a new student cover the cost of his first year’s books.
These are the needs we have met after an evening of sharing with friends.
Common Change is currently hosting a series of Generosity Dinners. If this sounds like something you would like to give a try, then head over here for more information: http://dinner.commonchange.com.
Challenge the way you think about and enact your giving… and take some friends along for the ride.
Who knows who this might bring to your table? Maybe the Lord could even use this to add daily to those who are being saved.