WHO & WHAT IS THE TABLE NETWORK?
Knowing 70% of society is uninterested in attending a church service of any kind, Russ stepped out of his pastoral role at MissioDei Chicago in 2014 to start the Table Network. Today, this network exists as a broad movement of the Church reclaiming the ancient way of the table as a means for enjoying and extending the freedom and family of Jesus with others. Seeing disciples made and simple Church families form has been the natural result.
HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN?
First, it starts with our Reclaim or Intrepid Trainings offered to anyone and everyone. In it, participants develop the understanding, language, and framework they need to start enjoying and extending the freedom and family of Jesus with others. Second, we offer everyone who has journeyed through Reclaim or Intrepid the opportunity to be a part of the network; to be a part of a movement of grace that goes beyond their local context and circle of influence. In doing so, they find free access to proven resources, Coaches they can call on, fellow practitioners they can learn from, and can receive things like ordination status, non-profit status, insurance covering, or banking needs if desired.
WHY SO MUCH EMPHASIS ON THE TABLE?
With every table we find a picture of the relationship God’s brought to us all through the work of His Son. The life we long for, and thus the world at large, flows from the freedom and family found in Jesus. With every table we also find a place to gather with others around this ever present mystery. Like Jesus, we too can use this simple, everyday space to connect with people, enjoy the good things, hear their stories, and share the One who has already met them where they are.
WHAT DO WE MEAN BY ‘FREEDOM”?
Aware of our perpetual love affair with performance we can measure, map, and manage, Jesus made a habit of employing the most shocking stories of unadulterated grace to send our personal empire of progress tumbling down, brick by brick. The Pharisee who went to the temple to pray found his tower of self-righteousness was as good as toppled, while the Publican simply knelt in the ruin of his own life. Pharisees and Publicans alike, we are all flawed, foolish, and frail in one way or another. This is why Jesus is good news. He does what no one else can—reconnecting us to God and rescuing us from ourselves. This dependence on him defines us and frees us to stop pretending we are impressive. We call it grace, an invitation out of the exhausting madness of trying to hide the junk of our lives. We are free to be nothing in Christ.
WHAT DO WE MEAN BY ‘FAMILY”?
The mystery of the kingdom of God is like a dragnet being hauled to shore, catching everything in its path. It rejects nothing, Jesus said. One day this net will arrive on the beach, and in the meantime, we are free to be what we only are: a random sampling of the broken world that God has united Himself to in Christ. Capon was right, “to be the church and paint a picture of anything else would be false advertisement.” To believe in this present mystery of us being family with God and one another, is to trust in the finished work of Jesus on the behalf of those who haven’t yet believed in Him; to value this present mystery is to see ourselves not as ushers, but as fellow guests at the table Jesus set before the world; and to live in this present mystery is to set a table for others to experience the freedom and family found in Him.