The Open Table
As we embrace our commitment to being a community that highly values relationships, we've dedicated a significant amount of time to discussing the concept of The Open Table – a sustainable rhythm focused on cultivating hospitality, nurturing relationships, bringing friends together, and responsibly managing our networks. Today, I'd like to highlight some practical considerations for establishing and maintaining this rhythm.
Choose a Consistent Day and Time: Finding the optimal day and time might involve some trial and error. Once you've determined what works best for you and your friends, mark it on your calendar as a regular occurrence and safeguard it.
Invite Individuals Seeking Connection: Pay special attention to those who seem open to forming friendships. If someone responds positively when invited to an Open Table event, it's a positive sign. After their first visit, if they're engaged and enjoying themselves, extend subsequent invitations.
Cultivate Your Network with Care: Dedicate time to pray for the people in your circles. Seek guidance from the Holy Spirit, asking, "When is the right time to invite this person?" Approach relationship-building with thoughtful consideration, and be attuned to the Lord's guidance.
Send Gentle Reminders: This type of rhythm is unconventional in our culture. Anticipate that you'll need to issue invitations, re-invitations, and reminders. While it's important not to badger those uninterested, effective communication and welcoming reminders are effective ways at expressing hospitality.
Create an Environment Fostering Relationships: During your Open Table gatherings, appoint someone to facilitate connections and interactions. Look out for opportunities for people to connect. If this isn't your strong suit, someone else from Hope can offer support. Incorporating lawn games, board games, card games, etc., can often break down relational barriers and help individuals connect in new ways.
In starting this rhythm, the most important thing is to start and continuously improve. Every Open Table event is an opportunity to learn, grow, and get better at fostering relationships. Embrace the learning curve, celebrate the connections formed, and commit to improving with each gathering. By nurturing this rhythm of hospitality and relationship-building, we're fostering a vibrant community where bonds are deepened and friendships flourish.