Journey Church on the Common was founded in 1847 to make Jesus more accessible to residents of Chelmsford living in the town center. (You can learn more about the church at www.journeychurchonthecommon.org.) Dinner on the Common is a service provided by the Journey Church on the Common to make Jesus more accessible to even more people.
A New Direction
Having conversations about Jesus was a much easier task in those earlier years and in the mid 1900’s when people believed it was a good thing to be part of a faith community and the church cared for families and taught about Jesus faithfully. But beginning in the 1960’s our world began to change dramatically, and church attendance began to decline across all Christian communities. Younger generations of Americans were now growing up with no exposure to Jesus and the Christian faith. A few years ago the people at Central Baptist began to realize that they were not connecting people to Jesus. That began a journey to discover how Jesus would live and connect with people in our world today. And in May 2016 the church made an historic decision to commit to figuring out how to connect people to Jesus in our current culture. That is when we changed our name recognizing that life and faith is a journey.
A New Vision
In the years since 2016 we have been faithfully seeking God’s leading on how to connect people to Jesus. We got involved in many different projects to serve people in the surrounding communities. We initiated a program around the dinner table to help people learn about Jesus and to ask any questions they may have about God, life and the bible. We created opportunities for our people to learn more about Jesus. We were building a new foundation. During the winter of 2019 we also realized that we needed to take bolder steps if we were to really help connect people to Jesus.
That led to Dinner on the Common. We made a commitment of finances, time and people to create a different kind of venue. It became clear to us that Jesus met people around the dinner table. Eating a meal together with other people is a wonderful way to get to relax and enjoy a measure of community which is so lacking in our world today. So Dinner on the Common is about gathering around a table to enjoy a meal with no charge. Over the years we had become involved with Living Waters in downtown Lowell. Living Waters is a community center bringing help and hope to the people of Lowell beginning in 1998. Everyone is welcome at the center. Our involvement began when the men of our church started serving a hot breakfast once a month on Saturday mornings at this community center. With the Covid pandemic many services stopped providing food, so we began providing 50 bag lunches every Saturday which we continue to do. Over time we realized that Living Waters was the perfect location for the Dinner on the Common. Many homeless, working poor and others lived in neighborhoods near Living Waters. It is the perfect location for people to enjoy a delicious meal in a warm, safe environment. It is a place to come and be served, relaxing for an hour or so in a peaceful setting. Each week we will offer an uplifting story about Jesus of no more than five to ten minutes. No one has to stay for that conversation, but all are welcome. Afterwards there is time for questions and continued friendly conversation. This is not about church or a particular brand of Christianity. Jesus is the one who brings life and purpose in this world. So we only talk about Jesus. Anyone who wants to come is welcome. But it’s also a place to get to know people, to relax and to laugh with other people also seeking to figure out life and the peace God wants to bring us.