By Ashley Creek*
Last Fall, the Cornerstone Youth Program celebrated what happens when you gather people around a table together and share a meal. The feeling and community that occurs when sitting around the table is significant, so significant, in fact, that Luke mentions it multiple times in his writings in Luke and Acts. Acts 2:42 says:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
This is something we found to be central and true at our recent “FriendsGiving” Dinner for youth ages 5th-12th grade.
The vision was this: youth would invite friends from school and from their community to come have a Thanksgiving dinner together. This dinner, with tons of food, great conversations, and some games for their participation, would lead to an evening that closed with a Gospel message.
When I recall this event, I remember the abundance of food; the warmth that can only come from cramming a room full of people; the outpouring of love, service, and donations from our church family; the laughter, great conversations, and the overflowing amount of thankfulness. Yet, what I remember most is that the youth invited their friends, and that there were potentially youth who got to hear that they are loved and pursued by their Maker for the first time that Sunday night.
For more than a month prior, we handed out invites, encouraged youth with creative ways to invite their friends, and prayed a lot! On the day of, we transformed our sanctuary into a formal dining room, with lots of round tables, a photo booth, and a couple buffet lines. We had been soliciting donations from members of the church who would bring their own thanksgiving dishes to be served at the meal.
We opened up the doors, and to our joy and surprise, close to 85 kids poured in to celebrate together! I sat in awe, not because of how many were there, but because of the boldness of our youth to really reach out and invite their friends.
At the end of the evening, I had the amazing opportunity to challenge each person in the room (both churched and unchurched youth) to consider to Whom they are thankful. It was an affirming invitation to consider the blessings in their life. My soul is so filled with joy that I want to get up and dance when I think about it. This is what we’re called to: to go and make disciples of all nations!
I desire our youth to understand that purpose and this was such a beautiful opportunity to help them succeed in inviting someone to church! I love offering our youth opportunities to share Christ’s love with their friends and offering that through the fellowship that happens when we break bread and share a meal together.
*Ashley Creek serves as the Youth Director for Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Covington, Washington.