Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Table (reloaded)

(a detailed response to a recent anonymous comment...I needed to touch on this subject anyway)

One of my big dreams that only seems to be shelved on the back burner these days is The Table.

I still believe that this can and will happen one day in some form or fashion. But right now The Table appears to be a real pipe dream as I scramble to work odd jobs to stay just behind bills that are due. But I’ve seen the CEO use nuttier people than me to create extraordinary things. So what do I know.

The Table: a community from the poverty culture revolving around a high-end café, possibly with a night-club atmosphere (occasional live music, etc).

This is not some idealistic invention from my head. The Table actually existed once upon a time with the izzy group ministry at their former church host’s location. It wasn’t really thought of or planned out ahead of time. The Table just evolved from thin air.

There was a need: hungry poor people hanging around our facility after passing out free groceries and clothing. We met the need: fed them. Then we discovered the deeper need: loneliness. So as best we could, we met that need: sat and ate with everybody and just listened to the plight of the poor from their mouths.

We didn’t solve the world’s problems and poverty wasn’t eliminated forever. But I’m convinced that during those days I experienced the kingdom of god. The one that Jesus talks about.

At The Table, there was no “us vs. them”. Everyone was equal. Everyone owned The Table. Everyone pitched in, helped cook, serve, entertain, clean up, etc. Poor and rich alike. And really, it was no big deal.

Last year (2006) I proactively sought after bringing The Table back to life. I had no money. The izzy group (who I was still loosely associated with at the time) barely had a presence in the fair mother city. But I called and met various landlords and property owners as if there were a purse somewhere ready to make this happen. You can search the various “Table Reports”.

This has all become briefly sidetracked as I scramble to stay afloat. And maybe I’m too idealistic for anyone’s own damn good.

Such as...I refuse to pimp this ministry idea out to local churches. The Table needs no stamp of approval from the religious and elite. As my and the izzy group’s history with the former host church proved, and surprisingly reemphasized in The Second Chance: the religious often squash the kingdom.

Meet the new boss...same as the old boss.

My recent mental pondering in The Table is whether or not to use a storefront. Is there another need for a storefront type ministry? Does The Table need to jump through all the local legal hoops of man just to feed and listen to people?

The very influential book by Shane Claiborne (Irresistible Revolution) posed this scenario to me: why not have The Table in a house? A house that me and my family live in? The city couldn’t tell me how many friends I have over for dinner. I wouldn’t have to sell my soul to the government with the 501c3 mark on my head (or the lesser used 508c1a).

And the religious could shove it. The fair mother city doesn’t need yet another church or non-prof.

Then I got to thinking...maybe my family and I are ALREADY doing The Table. Sometimes neighborhood kids whose moms are at work will come eat dinner with us. Sometimes we have The Table at Obi-Wan’s. Sometimes we have it at The Sanford’s or Valdez’s back yard BBQs.

So really...I don’t know anymore. I guess we are living The Table. But if the opportunity to be in the vicinity of our long lost homeless friends again (via a storefront), I may jump on it.

(And PS - Pastor Hawking keeps trying to make The Table happen. His new church building in located next to an empty restaurant. And Hawking has no desire to stick his thumb in it, just open the door for me.)


Mark said...

Totally awesome shift in thinking - "we are living the Table" - awesome!

Homes are a way more inviting platform than a storefront anyway. Hospitality as the the original word meant was "love of strangers" and it was all about inviting people you didn't know to stay at your place. You didn't even ask them what their business was for 3 days; meanwhile you fed them, clothed them, nursed their wounds...

Tell you what man. I KNOW that there are people out there who want to help "support" the Table (either by showing up for dinner and conversation with the poor, or making regular donation to your grocery bill. Tell your story, and pray - see what God does.

Tangerinetinselbreeze said...


Anonymous said...

That was not thin air it evolved from. But it was no less mysterious.

Becareful that your language does not betray you.

Wonderful post. Wonderful endeavor. I pray for more miraculous movement of God at The Table.

It reminds me of Campolo's book, THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS A PARTY. At least the opening chapter. He talks about how Israel tithed all their money and through a party every year. Sounds wasteful to Mod American ears, but not to God.

Agent X

Jason & Nicole said...

Keeping living the Table.