Over January we had a series on food. The reason we did food was that I think it is a big theme throughout the Bible and it is also something that people in Sydney spend a lot of time enjoying, thinking about and cooking.
What we were aiming to do:
Have the teaching and what we were doing interact. We didn’t just want to talk about food, but have the food in front of us. We wanted people to experience what we were talking about directly.
What we did:
We changed our format dramatically. We moved our time to a dinner schedule. We had dinner together, we had a talk and then prayer at the table. The whole thing was to be very informal. Kids were to be involved and have an activity sheet during the talk. At first I had planned to speak on the whole Bible’s view of food, but quickly realised it was going to be too large. Tim Chester, A Meal with Jesus, helped me to focus on meals in Luke, but even then there was a lot of editing to be done.
On the whole, the thing looked very good on paper.
We had a couple who were passionate about hospitality who arranged the food. The food was great. The meals were arranged around the talks – we had a picnic when we were talking about feeding the 5,000 and a passover when we were talking about the Lord’s Supper. All of this gave us a ‘feel’ of what it would have been like to experience the meals we were talking about. The new format only went for 3 weeks and any longer we would have lost too much momentum and it would have been hard to swap back.
What didn’t work:
Firstly, it became apparent that there was far too much material to deal with. While there was a lot of editing done, there needed to be more. The format didn’t really allow me to do a full 30 min talk. It needed to be a sharp 20 min talk with one precise point.
Secondly, I think people had some trouble adjusting to the different format. Number were down as we expected over January but I got the feeling that people felt they could be late or not turn up at all because ‘it wasn’t really church’.
Finally, while we had some activities for the kids, I think we needed to work harder on this. They quickly became bored and to some extent distracting.
The bottom line is that the series worked, but not as well as I had have hoped.