Is the church night supper dead?

September 10th, 2013

Maybe. If you're talking about mediocre food, boring conversation, and not much else.

Depending upon where you're located the CNS may have morphed into weeknight programs with study options for all age levels. In other areas of the country or during holy seasons, churches offer a meal with an intergenerational program.

Some things to consider:

What are you doing now and are people coming? And if they aren't coming, why not?

Maybe your schedule doesn't work for families, or maybe the night doesn't work for your community. Figure out what would work and then do it. Be willing to try some different ways of doing a meal, you might find a meal before or after an evening worship works best.

What are you offering in addition to a meal, and is it what people want and will attend?

Find out what people's interests are, plan around the interests, and then ask them if they will attend. I had a seminary professor who taught us that people need to register and pay something. It didn't have to be the full cost of the materials but that people's attendance is better in study groups if they've invested their time and money.

Never underestimate the power of fellowship.

The staff person in charge of the children's choir asked me to start something for the parents who were hanging out in the sanctuary talking during choir practice. After visiting with the parents over a couple of weeks I found they were happy to move to a room where they could have coffee and talk. They really didn't want to attend yet another study. They enjoyed visiting with other parents.

A meal can be a good reason to let people of all ages come and be together with no set agenda. It's easy to get in our age level groupings and miss out on the diversity of our congregations. Some in your congregation may be far from home and families, so your church becomes family for them. If you have more than one worship service a simple meal  before or after provides a time for people to make new friends.

Ask for help, invite people to join you in planning. And if you have leaders who tend to want to do everything themselves insist on them letting others help.

When I arrived at my first church I was given the task of working on the CNS. The one person who had been in charge of the elaborate home cooked meal told me she wanted no part of the new year because she was tired. People raved about the food but they wanted Bible study and classes. So our team got to work asking people what they specifically wanted to study and invited people to help. As a result, the meal wasn't as elaborate as before but the attendance was better and people enjoyed themselves.

We've created a Church Night Suppers bin with additional ideas and some suggested resources. Ideas shared by the congregations fit their settings and have been successful. We hope you'll be inspired to do something a little different this year, and we'd love to hear about it!

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