Bouman, Stephen P. 2013. The Mission Table: Renewing Congregation and Community. (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress).
Stephen P. Bouman is the Executive Director of Congregational and Synodical Mission in the ELCA Churchwide Office.
This book provides a clear, accessible plan for how to transform the local congregation into a missional community. Bouman draws from his own vast experience in the urban context and punctuates his proposals with a compelling interplay of scriptural and personal stories. His proposal is built around the metaphor of the table around which a community shares a meal. He suggests that God’s creation is one large table at which God invites all creation to mutual fellowship. This fellowship is disrupted and the church is called to imagine three tables to which God calls it to sit: The kitchen table of intimate family; the altar table of the worshiping community; and the mission table in the neighborhood around which strangers become friends.
My biggest take-away was his model for holding listening table meetings within the congregation. These meetings are a communicative action to create spaces for change and innovation. Further, I was convicted about the church’s call to public action and advocacy for the weak, oppressed, and voiceless in society. We are continually called to speak truth to power.
The following quotes I found helpful:
From our kitchen tables, God calls us to meet Christ at the altar table. From the altar table, we are sent to gather at the tables of neighbors and set new tables with new friends. Mission is moving from table to table, seeking to join God already in the world making new space for reconciling, renewing grace. (38)
Frederick Douglass was right on target: power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will. (109)