No one likes to eat alone; to approach a table filled with people, only to be told that despite the open chairs there isn’t room for you. The rejection stings. It leaves a mark. Yet this is exactly what the church has been saying to far too many people for far too long: “You’re not welcome here. Find someplace else to sit.” How can we extend unconditional welcome and acceptance in a world increasingly marked by bigotry, fear, and exclusion?
Pastor John Pavlovitz invites readers to join him on the journey to find—or build—a church that is big enough for everyone. He speaks clearly into the heart of the issues the Christian community has been earnestly wrestling with: LGBT inclusion, gender equality, racial tensions, and global concerns. A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, Hopeful Spiritual Community asks if organized Christianity can find a new way of faithfully continuing the work Jesus began two thousand years ago, where everyone gets a seat.
Pavlovitz shares moving personal stories and his careful observations as a pastor to set the table for a new, more loving conversation on these and other important matters of faith. He invites us to build the bigger table Jesus imagined, practicing radical hospitality, total authenticity, messy diversity, and agenda-free community.
Pavlovitz, blogger and pastor from Wake Forest, N.C., opens his welcoming text with his view that the shock election of Donald Trump ushered in a movement of grief that has morphed into a larger movement against injustice. He then details his gradual move from conservative Christianity to a more inclusive stance, which caused him much personal pain and internal angst as friends and congregation members shunned his ideas. Conservative readers may not agree with Pavlovitz's positions on issues such as homosexuality and gender equality, but they will appreciate the wisdom and good sense he imparts regarding loving service, humble civility, and selflessness in a largely self-involved society. Addressing a conservative audience, Pavlovitz takes pains to ground his arguments in scriptural references and writes with an eloquence and deep sense of care toward the church as an institution. Regardless of what theological stance readers live by, Pavlovitz will inspire reflection with valid points on the importance of going directly to God's word for marching orders.