One of the most unforgettable moments of British television so far this century has to be the Come Dine With Me episode that shudders to an electrifying, awe-inspiring halt at the reading of the results.
If you are unfamiliar with the concept of Come Dine With Me, four individuals take it in turn hosting dinner parties for the other contestants. The host is then marked on their food and general hospitality skills by each individual, and the contestant with the highest mark at the end of the week wins the cash prize.
In one 2009 episode, the results are revealed after the final dinner party by that night’s host, Peter. And, much to his chagrin, he has finished dead last. A fantastical tirade is launched in the direction of our winner, Jane, and the other two contestants are left staring into the abyss. Peter demands Jane get off his property, and in perhaps the most memorable quote of the scene, informs her she has “a sad little life”.
As you might expect, this isn’t how most dinner parties tend to conclude!
It might seem redundant in this time of Lockdown II: Revenge of the Zoom, but I want to challenge both students and student workers to embrace the dinner party right now.
With students cooped up with their housemates/flatmates, the time for deliberate, relational evangelism is now.
If students are anything like me when I was a fresh-faced undergrad, they cook most of their meals just for themselves, and eat either in front of the telly or in their room.
Let’s start a dinner table revolution in the houses and flats of students who know Jesus!
Students: can you organise a dinner party evening for you and your housemates? Can you get creative and make it themed? Can you find a way to introduce some faith questions to the discussion during the evening? (The DMC Deck might be a really good way to do this)
Student workers: can you encourage students to host dinner parties by enlisting the help of your church’s cooking team to deliver a meal for a house? Have you got an army of cooks who normally do your student lunches on standby?
The genuine and authentic community found around the dinner table is something Jesus saw the value of (Luke 5, Luke 7, Luke 9), and I believe passionately we’d see houses and flats transformed by the inhabitants sitting around the table.
Honest, real conversation that empowers and enables those students who love Jesus to share his Good News in a powerful and authentic way.
And, of course, hopefully your dinner party won’t end with someone stating that someone else has “all the grace of a reversing dump truck without any tyres on.”.
In next week's Student Mission Ideas Drawn from Channel 4 Reality Television, I explore the lessons we can learn from the symmetry of the Road to Emmaus and Coach Trip.