In an increasingly fragmented and isolated world, there is a simple yet profound practice that has the ability to bring people together and foster rich community: gathering around the table to share meals. This was a core value modeled by Jesus himself during his earthly ministry. Over shared meals, he built deep relationships with his disciples and followers. The meals were about far more than just eating food – they provided a context for connection, teaching, and transformation.

The book of Acts gives us a glimpse into how this practice carried over into the early church. After being filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, the Bible tells us the believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). This simple verse packs a powerful picture of the emerging church community – one centered around the table.

Sharing meals allowed them to devote themselves to “the apostles’ teaching,” hearing firsthand accounts of Jesus’ life and recounting his radical teachings over bread and wine. It facilitated true “fellowship,” sharing life together through laughter, storytelling, and earnest conversation in a way that simply can’t happen from rows of seats facing a stage. The “breaking of bread” is mentioned twice, likely referring both to the sacred tradition of communion as well as the daily practice of sharing meals. And all of this happened while “devoting themselves to prayer” – pausing between bites to give thanks, share praises and requests, and lift one another up.

Around the table, this fledgling community of believers lived out the gospel in 3D. Notice it doesn’t say they devoted themselves to lectures, sermons or one-way communication. True discipleship happened as they “did life” together in an interactive, participatory manner. Tertiary details of food and decor likely faded from memory long ago, but deep bonds were forged that stood the test of time.

The Acts 2 church was characterized by “awe at the many wonders and signs being done by the apostles” and a profound generosity – “they shared everything they had…selling possessions to give to anyone who had need.” This was no clean, sanitized, Instagram-worthy gathering of like-minded folks. This was a delightfully messy collection of people from all walks of life experiencing the power of the risen Christ. Diverse backgrounds, socioeconomic levels, political leanings and personalities crowded around the same tables, yet found unity in devotion to Jesus.

In those homes and common spaces, likely filled with the aromas of bread, olive oil, and roasted lamb, theirse believers discovered and experienced community in its purest, richest form: doing life together at its most fundamental level by sharing meals. This sacred practice stood in stark contrast to the world around them where meals were often exclusive affairs, marked by division across ethnic, social and economic lines. But this new community was color-blind, class-blind, gender-blind, bound only by their common commitment to follow Christ.

As the church grew by the thousands, the table became a powerful catalyst for connection, evangelism, discipleship and sheer belonging like the world had never seen. Imagine leaving behind everything you knew – job, habits, vices, relationships – to forge a new way of life. Into the inevitable loneliness and displacement, you were instantly invited to belong at someone’s table, to make yourself at home in their home. House by house, table by table, the church was built through radical hospitality and kinship.

Perhaps you’ve experienced a taste of this kind of rich community over a shared meal – the magical way in which the simple acts of tearing bread and pouring wine can bring down walls, stoke laughter, invite vulnerability, and create space for meaningful connection. Or maybe the idea feels somewhat foreign in our frenetic, screen-obsessed age where we’re more likely to grab a protein bar and eat it alone in the car or slouched over a keyboard at our desks.

Somewhere along the way, the culture of gathering intentionally around the table for meals began slipping away. Some blame the suburban shift to compartmentalized, single-family homes and the decline of urban communities oriented around courtyard living and regular street life. Others point to the frenetic pace of our McDonald’s drive-thru society. Still more fault technological distractions from smartphones to Netflix that make the idea of carving out unhurried time for a lingering meal seem like a quaint anachronism.

But at our core, we were created for connection. We long for a place to belong, to feel known and accepted, to experience authentic community. And this longing keeps drawing us back, whether consciously or subconsciously, to the primal intimacy of the shared table.

Maybe you already gather regularly in this way, cherishing mealtimes as sacred opportunities to show hospitality, forge bonds that transcend superficial differences, and experience the joy of becoming family to those who may have none. If so, be encouraged to continue embodying this powerful practice. Guard it jealously in your crowded schedule as an antidote to our hyper-isolation. Relish that feeling of lingering over the last bites and sips, eking out the moments of connection until someone has to be the first to push back from the table.

Or perhaps the idea of centering life around the table in this countercultural way resonates in your spirit as a longing for more authentic relationships and community. If that’s you, be encouraged! You’re being called back to the root, to humanity’s most ancient and universal means of fostering kinship. Start small by carving out regular meals with friends, roommates or family. Practice hospitality by opening your table to others. Allow meals to become less functional refueling stations and more like reunions where presence matters more than perfectly curated ambiance or cuisine.

As you take steps to lean into this sacred practice modeled by Jesus and embodied by the early church, something supernatural can happen. What starts as friends circled around a table can become a community formed in one another’s lives. Where evening once began with the clink of plates, it becomes a holy expectation to hear one another’s stories and burdens and rejoice in one another’s triumphs. Meals move from isolated refueling to moments of intimacy. And walls come down not just around your table, but in all areas of life. Vulnerability takes root and we find the courage to more authentically be ourselves. That’s the transformative power of the table.

While formal church services, programs and studies absolutely have their place, we must be careful not to neglect the simple yet profound way Jesus taught his followers to walk through life together. If we want to experience the kind of powerful community modeled in Acts 2, we would be wise to build our lives around the table, just as they did. The table is where true discipleship happens – in the nitty gritty, dish-passing, crumb-brushing moments of ordinary life shared together. That’s the living, breathing, make-yourself-at-home essence of the gospel in action.

So let’s clear the clutter from our tables and reclaim them for what they were always meant to be – the place where the church gathers to break bread, to raise a cup, to pass plates of nourishment, and most importantly, to forge the bonds of friendship and kinship that sustain us on this journey of faith. The table beckons, and there’s a place set just for you.

Here are 4 questions related to the blog post with relevant scripture references:

  1. The blog post highlights how Jesus modeled building relationships and community around shared meals. What example from the gospels illustrates this most vividly?

Scripture Reference: Luke 5:27-32 describes Jesus eating at Levi’s house with “a great crowd of tax collectors and others” after calling Levi to be his disciple. The Pharisees criticized Jesus for eating with sinners, to which he replied “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”

  1. What practice from the early church in Acts 2:42-47 does the blog post focus on as being vital for building authentic community?

Scripture Reference: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42)

  1. The post argues that gathering around the table can help break down barriers between people. What teaching from Jesus reinforces this idea?

Scripture Reference: In John 13, after washing his disciples’ feet, Jesus says “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

  1. The post describes the powerful sense of belonging created by the early church sharing meals together. What metaphor does Paul use to describe this reality?

Scripture Reference: “So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12:5)

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About the Author: Misha Hulett
Misha grew up in southeast Michigan, right outside of Detroit. He went to Eastern Michigan University to be an elementary special education teacher and taught for four years. In 2011, he started attending 2|42 and quickly got involved volunteering in student ministry. He had been involved in churches his entire life, but discovered a call to ministry through volunteering with high school students. In 2013, Misha joined the staff as the high school director in Brighton. As Misha says, "I just want to walk with Jesus and help other people do the same." Misha and his wife, Brittany, love coffee and adventure. They have a 2-year-old son, Wilder, who lights up their world.

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