The Orchard Community is going deeper and wider by creating hyper-local micro-communities and linking them together with the magic of technology. People becoming who they were created to be. Right where they are planted.



Scott Hodge sharing the vision of Orchard Table Gatherings


About Table Gatherings


How we worship now

Table gatherings are a response to a changing landscape for the spiritually hungry. 

The pandemic accelerated the rate at which people are leaving traditional church, but declining religiosity is nothing new. Let’s be honest. Churches are failing to connect with people in meaningful, lifegiving ways. The number of people who call themselves spiritual but not religious is growing, and not just among millennials – even older generations are more religiously unaffiliated than ever before. 

And yet. 

If there’s anything that the past couple years have taught us, it’s that we need meaning, purpose, and connection now more than ever. We created Table Gatherings because we believe that spiritual growth is best found through authentic relationship, and just a few minutes of awkward handshakes in a Sunday morning service leaves us all wanting. Our Table Gatherings are designed to go deeper into our own spiritual lives and practices within communities of people hungry for deep meaning and purpose. 

Real human contact + digital connection 

We believe connection is a basic human need. Humans were made to be in relationship with each other in real life, and our Table Gatherings are designed to spark authentic connection in worship and around the table. In addition to our in-person gatherings, we’re building community spaces online where you can connect with our content and other members of The Orchard’s wider community throughout the week. 

Be the change in the community where you live. 

Orchard Tables meet right in your neighborhood. Worship alongside your neighbors, with kids at the same school. Our neighborhoods can be more than just waving at each other as you pull into the garage – they can be places of transformation. 

Did we mention there’s food? 

Jesus loved to gather around a table for a good meal and some wine, and so do we. Each week, we work with chefs to craft menus and bring something new to the table, where you can connect further with your community. Love to explore new flavors in your cooking? Just love to eat and converse? There’s room for you. 

Monthly gatherings at Society 57

Once a month, instead of Tables, we bring the entire community together for worship and connection. The Orchard gathers at our meeting place at Society 57 in downtown Aurora. If you’re local, come join us at 11 a.m. on the second Sunday of each month.

A community that holds space for your spiritual journey. 

The Orchard is a community of Christ-followers who aren’t afraid to wander. Around your Table, you’ll find people in different places on their spiritual journeys, people who may think about Christ in ways that are radically different from each other, but who hold our community’s shared values in common. We believe this diversity in faith creates fertile ground for growing each of us into everything God has created us to be. 

A worldwide vision. 

The Orchard’s Table Gatherings are popping up in cities across the country. Our vision is a community of spiritual seekers with the tools and guidance to go deep in their faith and transform their lives and their neighborhoods, whether that’s in Aurora, Illinois, or Aurora, Colorado. 

Even better, you’ll have a community of people across the country who share your values and are engaging with the same ideas and in the same conversations. Traveling? Jump in on a Table in a different city and connect with your Orchard tribe anywhere.

Help us create the future. 

We are looking for collaborators to play a role in creating this new way of doing church. Love hospitality? Food? Music? Do you have the heart of a passionate activist? Do you love creating beautiful spaces and connecting people? Even if you’re unsure of how you might play a part, we invite you to join our Orchard Tables Grassroots Team to stay in the loop about the development and launch of Table Gatherings.


FAQs


What, specifically, is a Table gathering?

Table gatherings, or Orchard Tables, are micro-gatherings – think 15-20 people or so – in a home near where you live. You’ll gather to worship, hear inspiring messages, participate in prayer and song, and share communion – all the things we love about our Sunday morning service – in smaller gatherings in homes across Aurora and in cities around the country. Following worship, you’ll gather around a table for a shared meal and conversation. 

Did you say, “around the country?”

Yes! We know that the Orchard is a special place, both deeply rooted in Christ and committed to fostering healthy spiritual growth from lots of angles. Over and over again, families who have moved away from our home base in Aurora, Illinois, have told us, “We wish we could find a place like the Orchard in our new city.” Table gatherings allow us to plant Orchards in cities around the country, starting with our first long-distance Table in Washington State. 

Aren’t you just describing a small group?

No. Our small groups are ways to connect socially, maybe around a Bible study or book discussion with people who have shared interests, and we expect them to continue. Table gatherings include a full worship experience and a meal, organized geographically.

I went to a house church back in the 90s. Is this like that?

Yes and no. Yes, you’ll be in a house and doing the church thing, but you’ll also be a part of something much larger. Those at the Orchard’s Table Gatherings are not alone trying to figure it all out on their own. Through the magic of technology, our leadership team will be bringing you intentional gatherings with thought-provoking messages and inspired liturgies aligned with the Orchard’s mission of helping people become who God created them to be. You will not be asked to break out your old guitar and lead the praise and worship songs. 

Am I going to be asked to host a bunch of people at my house? 

Not if it’s not your thing. We’re seeking the natural-born hosts among us, people who love to throw a great party, to host our table gatherings. If that’s not you, don’t worry – there are plenty of other ways you can contribute, and you won’t be asked to entertain a bunch of people in your apartment. 

Is this just a response to COVID? When is the Orchard going back to “normal?”

No, although Table Gatherings do offer the added bonus of potentially allowing people with sensitive medical conditions to gather with less risk, this is not our temporary pandemic arrangement. We believe that The Orchard is the kind of church our world needs now more than ever, and our hope is that our experiments with Table Gatherings will create a new blueprint for how worship can be done to reach new generations of people hungry for spiritual fulfillment and deeper community. 

So, is it always going to be this way?

The only constant in life is change. We don’t know where we’ll be led as a church in this experiment, but we know that God calls us to listen and grow rather than cling to the way things have always been done. Our desire is to provide spiritual community for our kids and their kids in a way that is relevant to how we live our lives now, whether that’s through this iteration of Table Gatherings or some path we can’t yet see.

Isn’t this just watching church online together? 

No, in the rest of our lives outside of church, we live in a hybrid world that, when done well, leverages technology to enhance our in-person experiences with one another – texting to make plans with friends or cuddling on the couch to stream a movie. Our intent with Table Gatherings is to create authentic opportunities for connecting in real life around the table, animated by messages and liturgies designed to pull you deeper to God and each other. 

Are we still going to have the opportunity to all gather together?

Yes. Join us at 11 a.m. on the second Sunday of the month at Society 57 to worship, learn, sing and commune with our full church body. Table gatherings will meet the other weeks of the month. 

I’m in. How do I help? 

Right now, we’re looking for our first hosts to welcome members of the Orchard tribe to welcome people into their homes. If you think that’s you and you want to learn more, email us. Other things we need right now are your prayers, your continued financial and social engagement, and your skills and talents. If you think you have something to contribute to this vision, from technology skills to experience developing leaders, let’s talk. 

We believe that in this new iteration of worship, everyone has a role to play as a creator and contributor to create a legacy and something that extends beyond us as individuals. Ask yourself, “What’s my part in this to help create the future?”  Then get still and listen. 


A Conversation with Scott Hodge and Ben Thomas about Table Gatherings