ARTICLE 1 - PARTYING FOR JESUS, AN INTRODUCTION ‘You have studied fasting. Now’s the time to study feasting!

’ Purpose My goal here is to open up an aspect of Jesus’ ministry that has been much neglected. His first miracle took place at a party. He was regularly invited to parties. Many of the words in the New Testament that you and I treasure were first spoken at parties. Jesus was accused of being a “winebibber, friend of sinners” because he was so often round for dinner with tax collectors and other dodgy types. Such accusations had to have some basis in fact. People only make accusations they think might stick. The modern church clearly lacks the winsomeness of Jesus. (‘Winsomeness’ - an old fashioned word meaning naturally attractive and attractively natural Sweeting Dictionary definition) Many find the Christian scene off-putting, unnatural, unpleasant even. I am not talking about really evil people who do commonly react against what is wholesome. I am talking about ordinary folk, your neighbour or colleague, my neighbour or colleague. I am also talking about the millions of Christians worldwide who don’t ‘do church’ anymore. It is very noticeable that few reacted to Jesus himself in such a way during His time on earth. The only real reaction against him came from hypocrites and Pharisees. The possessed man called Legion (because he had a legion’s worth of 5,000 demons in him) ran towards Christ, not away from him; the ‘winebibbers’ and the tax collectors must have found Jesus equally appealing. Jesus got a lot of party invites, it would seem. He also turned up. His purity did not cause people to back off. Modern Christians seem to get few invites, and don’t go anyway. So this article is not really about parties at all. It is about bringing the winsomeness of Christ into the secular environment. If you have a shaky walk with God this is not really for you. You will just be taking your half heartedness and disobedience into an environment that is already perfectly familiar with both

Parties are usually good news statements. True Christianity does not really fit this. Muslims have the Five Pillars. Sadly they also class evangelical Protestantism as world denying too – on the basis that they observe it to be rule driven and excluding. through membership etc. Or more wisely. then it cannot be the Gospel. They have a good news subtext – . Thus. New ways of thinking about the Gospel story result not so much in embracing new practices as in taking hold of the core truths and applying them to the current situation. it is meant to be GOOD NEWS. If we are to get out of the ‘rule-driven. But what the anthropologists see are groups defined by shared behaviour. After all. True Christianity is classed as a ‘sect’. ergo we are a sect. The act of baptism defines us. We have got the ‘world-denying’ bit perfect! Now is the time to work on the ‘world-affirming’ aspects of the Gospel. We change. Good new practices bring good change. It rejected the Saviour some of the time.these things. To them a sect is simply a belief group who define themselves. Christ loves it and it can be reached. The world is fickle and unreliable. yuk’ category. get down on your knees right now and repent. so it is ‘something else’. we need to change both our thought patterns and our practices. therefore they are a sect. Read a different book if getting right with God is your need. It works both ways. They therefore class monastic orders as world-denying. excluding. Problems Anthropologists make a very simple categorisation of religion into no more than 4 parts. There is a strong case for arguing that if our message is not good news. if it is BAD news it certainly is not the Gospel. WE are both deniers of the world and affirmers. but not unremittingly anti God. Some anthropologists make a second division between ‘world-denying’ and ‘world affirming’ beliefs. The world welcomed the Saviour a lot of the time. New practices challenge old patterns of thought and behaviour. They then make their personal judgements about which group are which. even if bad things happen during the change. Hinduism is indefinite.

We do not just want people to have a better. meet and follow the Head of the Church. I have written this because I feel there is something deeply Biblical that we have neglected. dude’. as a consequence. However. She is both beautiful and healthy.. It is not the heart of our faith.‘We’re delighted. as a context for expressing Christ’s heart. They are also just as good.‘Isn’t it great? We’ve been married 50 years’ . Yes. a faith which says “Rejoice with those who rejoice. We want people to.” . more accurate perception of the Church. The Biblical approach to work has been studied. The Biblical approach to time management has been studied. You like the idea of Christianity as a constant round of fun events. Now it is time to study a Biblical approach to partying on down! Scripture For some of you conformity to Scripture may not be very important. not a party. Parties are as much part of the human condition as going to work and not having enough time. parties are culture not theology. Obedience Jesus did not order us to ‘Party or die. Our little girl has been born. You want stuff that works. Most people do. Weep with those who weep. Every society that has ever existed has had parties.’ Because parties are inherently ‘good news’ events I will be seeking to show that they have great role to play not just in pre-evangelism. our faith is built round the Cross. but as a direct means of introducing people to Christ. or perhaps even better. I’m afraid that is not where I am coming from. His commands are somewhat more profound. but they are also universal. I do personally prefer fun events to gloomy religious observations. However. Partying for Jesus is only an expression of our faith. parties are just as good a context today for obeying His commands as they were when He so obviously chose to attend them during his time on earth.

which is not. town or city just like yours. . Even then. Having said that. I can take this attitude with me to someone else’s party. I have my perspective. or dancing. village. What is acceptable in some cultures will be unappreciated in others. One guy has fallen away. but that does not turn it into a Jesus party. Old people have parties as well as young people. What do I mean? To me a Jesus party is a party which the people throwing the party go into it with the specific goal of glorifying Christ. that the church which parties is a healthy place to be. but both can be celebrations. or food. or music. I am never surprised when people ask to become Christians at our Jesus party. Jesus turned up at parties. or embarrassing games. and write about a ‘Jesus party’. an absolute guarantee of accuracy! Where possible or practical I have checked with the person involved. or lots of people. even if that was not the focus. and has a very jaundiced view of what he did ‘for Christ’.I am not recommending the next ‘quick fix’ for churches or groups. Jesus still turns up at parties. However a party with none of these things might just be a bit sterile. and they have theirs. They have already been introduced to Him at my house. It’s a party where Jesus is invited and Jesus is welcome. I will say. A tea party is not a disco. What some may call boring. however. all actually happened to an actual person in an ordinary home. or booze. Type casting Every ‘party’ does not have to have balloons. What is a Jesus party? A number of times I will use a term I have coined. etc. and both can be celebrations of Christ. Modern Christians might be quite shocked at what really took place at the wedding at Cana of Galilee! Anecdotes All my anecdotes are as accurate as I can remember. a party where I expect Him to turn up. others may find really appealing. I am never surprised when a person who has been to our Jesus party eventually does find the Lord. therefore. for instance. Children’s parties can also have the aroma of Christ.

“Rejoice with me” says the woman who finds the lost coin. Each parable ends in shared rejoicing. For some. I can see myself alienating the evangelical over things like drinking and turning off liberals with my constant appeals to Scripture. These times of shared celebration are also really what we would call parties. I heartily approve of healing and speaking in tongues etc. and of course.In the New Testament Zaccheus was in a good position to throw a Jesus party as soon as he got down from his tree. I am roused by anything to do with Kingdom with a capital K. He gave a parable about a Marriage Feast. attended a very famous one in Galilee. coins. Jesus had His feet washed at such a party. but only as long as Jesus is glorified. The other major pointer to ‘party moments’ is exemplified in the various parables Jesus told about lost things – sheep. In His time on earth. a party. When you apply this mindset to the gospel narrative you will start to notice literally scores of ‘party moments’. For me. (Oh no. For others it is being socially relevant or more welcome or more popular. and made sure that Lazarus didn’t miss one! Biblical terminology and parties Your translation of the Bible will not call everything I call a party. effectiveness has always meant more people converted to Christ. Jesus and His family celebrated the Feast of the Passover. enjoying Him and obeying Him. This is probably the first one you have read about feasting. Food is always a factor! We will one day attend the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. I can see myself as seeming too ‘trendy’ for conservatives and too ‘conservative’ for radicals. You may have read an article about fasting before. I’ve alienated the anti-Charismatics . Effectiveness As I have written this I have become only too aware of the potential for falling between two stools. but have had enough of blathering about that Kingdom to last several lifetimes. sons. Even definitions of effectiveness show what camp each of us is in. effectiveness is ‘incarnation’ of our theology or something equally high sounding. It will refer a lot to ‘feasts’. Luke the tax collector threw a Jesus party to introduce the Lord to his pals.

On the other hand two members of my last small group were first contacted through parties we held. formed around 4 sets of people and locations – the foody group. ‘It must be good. the pub quiz group. We treated then as if they were believers and even went away together on house parties – ‘just like a real church’! This level of relationship was fed by the parties.’ Most of those I shared with that night were actively hostile to religion.years later. my wife and I consciously treated them as 4 ‘cell groups’. I have stayed in touch with all fourteen of those people. the wife’s work group. Another table asked me over to share with them. None are saved yet. In fact.) I welcome social engagement and feeding the poor. all with sad tales of ill-treatment at the hands of the religious. so there is some ‘glue’ for the future. One lady asked me to pray with her at the table. Think how difficult it would be to get all those folk along to church! Many of them now know each other. . I can remember sitting on a table of eight at a black tie dinner being grilled by six curious ‘pre-Christians’.and the Charismaniacs as well now. I have personally led to Christ around twenty people at parties. Do these ‘Jesus parties’ lead to conversions? The simple answer is yes. Several were Freemasons. some quite fun. Some of those stories will be mentioned in other articles. My secret desire for every party. None had heard the real Gospel before. ‘Tell us about Jesus too. I do not want to put much of my time and money into things that are not converting. if the other lot are so involved. Around a hundred and fifty different people went through our home over a twelve month period a few years ago. We started talking about death (as you do) and I testified to several deliverances from imminent death in my own life. the outdoor pursuits group. All became more open than you would expect.’ they said. But when all is said and done. Such parties do not replace formal or informal evangelism. some amazing. but they are certainly a good environment for the latter. dinner or event I have ever hosted is that someone find Christ through it. A few were very bitter due to tragic family circumstances. The anger turned to laughter. All are investigating the claims of Christ .

particularly in the local church family. there is that manifestation of real Bible life. Do you? Copyright: Dr Mike Sweeting 07/04/2011 . Ask yourself these questions? Does my church activity leave me time to party with those I serve with? Do I only socialise within my church and my ‘religious comfort zone?’ Am I wanted and welcome at the rejoicing of others? Do I give priority to being with people at their celebrations? Jesus had time to ‘waste’ with the local business people. Summary Many commentators on church life have noticed that where people want to be together. I know from letters. Do you? Jesus had time to ‘waste’ with his wider family.Another measure of effectiveness would be how much good fellowship or joy is engendered. You will also find me often putting a stress on the importance of honouring others through events. phone calls and conversations that many have been very touched and blessed. I cannot quantify this for you. This is where we all get stuck. I feel that ‘Jesus parties’ can be a great way of increasing the amount of this much neglected virtue. I cannot even give you an adequate impression of quality. do you? Jesus had time to ‘waste’ with the local pub crowd.