Part memoir, part spiritual re-evaluation, John Pavlovitz’s book, A Bigger Table, examines the type of invitation the world desperately needs. Recent political and religious events are creating more exclusive, more isolated communities, even within the church. While this may seem a reasonable fear reaction from the world, the church is called to a higher purpose: to invite any one and every one to the table, and a different way of living and loving.
Like me, John has undergone his own faith deconstruction and reconstruction. He has been both welcomed into and excommunicated from the church. I related to his questions and his search. I understand the discomfort of hearing dissonance between the pulpit and the gospel. I know how hard it is to not become so jaded and cynical you simply walk away from organized religion altogether.
But Mr. Pavlovitz doesn’t merely provide a grocery list of problems he finds within church walls, he also shares communities and ministries that are choosing inclusion over exclusion. He examines different and possibly new ways to approach individuals of different faith, sexuality and lifestyle based on our sameness more than our differences. He argues that the table Christ offers is more than large enough to accommodate all who seek to know God and each other better.
From the publisher:
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.