The ministry of hospitality

The family table is not just a place for food, it’s a place for spending quality time with the ones we love in the presence of Jesus. When was the last time you slowed down to enjoy a meal together as a family, without any mobile devices? 

Pastor Ted Cunningham describes how the fast-food restaurant, Chick-fil-A, introduced an incentive for families called “Cell Phone Coops.”

“They actually started creating a tech-free box. When you came into the store it looked like one of those old “Happy Meal” boxes. They encourage all of the family to put their devices in the box, and if you could go through the whole meal leaving your devices in the box, you got a free ice cream cone after dinner.”

As parents, we need to set the example for our kids and eliminate distractions around the dinner table.

“That type of stuff is habit now for us now; I don’t think about checking text messages or e-mails while sitting at the table. With teenagers, it’s something they have just accepted as part of the natural flow of our family.”

We are encouraged to use the table as a ministry platform in our own families, but also to reach people in our communities who may be blessed by a meal and fellowship. Pastor Ted shares how his family table has brought healing and restoration to those in need.

“We just found that the table, for us as husband and wife ministering to others, works the best. As a pastor of twenty years, I am now a firm believer that the table is a far more effective tool of ministry than my office.”

He relates it to his pastoral counseling experience,

“Around a table, it’s not on the clock so people aren’t just white knuckling through the session and trying to just make it through. The walls come down and the fences aren’t there; you’re sharing a meal together and there is something intimate about that.”

When we spend time together around the dinner table, pastor Ted says we open the door for restoration and healing to take place.

“I love how Max Lucado puts it, when you invite someone into your home you may think you’re saying, ‘Come over for a meal.’ But if you’ve cleaned your home and you’ve prepared a meal, what you’re really saying is, ‘You matter to God and you matter to us – we’re glad that you’re here.’”


Ted Cunningham is the founding pastor of Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, MO. He is the author of Fun Loving You, Trophy Child, Young and In Love, and the co-author of Come to the Family Table with his wife, Amy.

Come to the Family Table

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