When author Kendall Vanderslice was pursuing a master of liberal arts in gastronomy at Boston University, she was invited to a dinner church worship service, something she had never experienced before. That evening planted the seeds for change in her life. She says, “Over the coming weeks I ruminated on the evening, seeking to understand the experience in light of my research on food and friendship.” She felt God leading her to partner with a sociologist at the university’s School of Theology to complete her food studies thesis by researching dinner churches.
We Will Feast is part memoir, part research findings as Vanderslice intersperses her own spiritual and career journey with what she learned about numerous dinner church communities. She explains, “These communities do not focus on worship first and then eating together later; they understand the meal itself as worship.”
Grounding her work in the biblical story, Vanderslice says, “The narrative arc of the gospel—from creation and its fall to Christ’s death and resurrection to the building anticipation of a restored earth—is grounded in the act of eating. Meals end in death and meals offer new life.”
Though Vanderslice asserts that the experience of dinner church, which takes many different shapes in varying locales, tears down dividing walls between Christians, she acknowledges the limitations of the model and doesn’t believe every worshiping community should become a dinner church.
We Will Feast could prove to be a valuable resource and motivator for church leaders and small group leaders, offering fresh ways to use meals to build God’s community in their settings. (Eerdmans)
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