Sanctuary Community Survey: Dinner Church

Sanctuary’s Leadership Team (sometimes called the “Sub-Force” since it’s a subcommittee of our larger Presbytery-connected Task Force) meets monthly to plan future gatherings, create needed policies, and set vision and strategy for the big questions of Sanctuary’s mission. This month, we met to reflect upon Dinner Church and set a course for our gatherings and events next six months. We are proposing a change that we want to hear input from the broader community before making a final decision about its implementation. We hope you’ll take the time to read below then fill out a four question, multiple choice survey

Survey Link:

Nine months ago, Sanctuary shifted from meeting two Sunday evenings per month to meeting weekly on Monday evenings. The hope in making this change was to create more consistency and to better reach the neighborhood where God has called us. We had observed that Lawrenceville was a neighborhood with many thriving small businesses, which were open on Sundays, but not on Mondays. We hoped to match the Sabbath of neighborhood restaurants, bars, and shops by meeting on Mondays.

Since then, our paid staff changed from two part-time pastors to one part-time pastor with a more active volunteer leadership team. We have bumped into our limitations as we’ve sought to continue to meet weekly on Mondays. Looking back on the past nine months, we made several observations:

-The consistency of Monday evenings has been helpful. We remember when Dinner Church is happening and can tell others about it easily.

-Sharing a meal together is central to who we are as a community. We do not want to get rid of the meal all together.

-Most of the people who come to Dinner Church work on Mondays. It is difficult to have the energy to go, especially as it is the first working day of the week. It is often impossible to help with cooking or set up.

-Meeting weekly has limited our ability to engage in the neighborhood. Our pastor and our “regulars” do not have margin to experiment with other forms of gathering community or to meet neighbors through service and other events.

-Meal rotations have been almost impossible to create, as most people are unable to contribute a main dish on a weekday evening.

There are many beautiful things happening at Sanctuary and through Dinner Church. As we seek to build on what we have already created in this community, we are committed to our mission: To create a community that is rooted in the way of Jesus for the flourishing of our neighbors and neighborhood. Dinner Church is a primary way for us to create a community that is rooted in the way of Jesus, yet in its current form, we have been hindered from turning outward for the flourishing of our neighbors and neighborhood. 

We propose a new rhythm of meeting to create the space in our community schedule for more neighborhood engagement, outreach, justice work, and gathering neighbors in ways that help everyone to flourish: Dinner Church would meet one Sunday evening per month, year-round. This change would occur in June. Pub Talks will continue as they have, one Sunday per month, September-May.

We want to hear your feedback on this proposal, as well as your observations of Dinner Church and how Sanctuary is living into our mission. Please take five minutes to fill out the survey. Our Leadership Team will take a final vote on proposed changes in the coming weeks.

Survey Link: