Adventist Potlucks: Where Food and Friendship Meet
One of the best parts about getting together with a church family on Sabbath is the fellowship we can experience.
The word “fellowship” may not be used very often in everyday conversation, but it has special meaning in a church setting. It’s about spending quality time together with the intention of building and deepening friendships.
Adventists value fellowship as an integral part of their faith community. And what better way to help make that happen than bonding over food. Adventists often “break bread together” with a fellowship lunch!
Every so often, usually on a schedule ranging from once a week to once a month to once a quarter, an Adventist church will have one of these “fellowship dinners,” often casually referred to as potlucks.
During these potluck Sabbaths, families bring all kinds of different dishes, and we will all share a big meal together.
But let’s go through the details together:
- What exactly is church potluck?
- Who goes to a potluck meal?
- Why do Adventist churches have it?
- How can I participate in a church potluck?
So if you’ve been invited to a potluck, want to go to a potluck, or just want to know what it’s all about, here’s what you’ll want to know.
What is church potluck?
Put simply, a church potluck is a meal gathering when individuals and families each bring a delicious dish for everyone to share.
You might see this potluck meal called “fellowship dinner” or “fellowship meal” on church signs or bulletins, or on their social media or website announcements.
Often, people bring their dishes in the morning before the church service, placing them in the kitchen or meal area. Then, after service is over, volunteers will set out the dishes on large serving tables, along with plates and utensils.
And because our congregations are often diverse and full of people from different cultures and ethnicities, the recipes and dishes often reflect that. It can be a real treat!
What else should you expect from an Adventist church potluck in terms of food?
Dishes are often vegetarian, to make them as inclusive as possible. Some might also bring vegan dishes to the shared meal.
It’s also normal to have many different types of dishes. Some people will bring a home cooked meal or a family recipe, some will bring dinner rolls, some will bring frozen lasagna to heat up in the church kitchen, some will bring salad or soup, and some will bring dessert (Yum!).
All of these are welcome and necessary! Variety and community are crucial parts of church potluck.
But food isn’t the only thing that makes church potluck special.
There are a lot of reasons churches host fellowship dinners, so let’s explore some of those reasons.
Why do churches have potluck?
Every church potluck is going to look different. Some congregations are small and might share potluck every week because they are so close-knit. Other congregations are larger and might only have potluck-style gatherings a few times a year. But whatever the size of the church, most Adventist churches have potluck for similar reasons:
Let’s talk about each of these.
To cultivate relationships
Have you ever been in a situation where you see people repeatedly—say at a job or in a class—but you never really truly get to know them?
In fact, you might recognize their faces but not even know their names
Trust us, you’re not alone.
It’s easy to show up to a gathering, spectate, and then leave. Church can be the same way. Especially if we’re feeling more reflective than social.
Potluck is a means to remedy that!
Sharing meals with one another ensures that we can slow down, sit down, and talk. Or even just be together, regardless of the depth of conversation.
Not only are we able to reconnect with people we haven’t spoken to in a while, but we are also able to connect with people we don’t know well or don’t know at all.
People might come to potluck physically hungry, but by the time they’re done eating and it’s time to go home, they’ll have been physically, emotionally, and spiritually fed.
Coming to potluck is an opportunity to feel that kind of fellowship and connection.
To follow Jesus’ example
The importance of gathering for a meal comes from the example of Jesus and the early followers of Christianity.
Much of the gospels is filled with stories of Jesus sharing meals with people. All kinds of people: Pharisees, tax collectors, adulterers and adulteresses, even the disciple that would betray Him to the religious leaders, leading to Jesus’ crucifixion (Luke 7, 19, 22).
When we gather together for a meal, we have the opportunity to forget any differences and simply share food with each other.
After Jesus’ death, resurrection, and return to heaven, the early Christian church kept the tradition of sharing meals with each other. The book of Acts tells us that as the Church was growing, they continued “steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42, NKJV).
A growing church needs to grow in community! “Breaking bread” is one of the ways the early Christian church developed that kind of community.
When God’s people practice fellowship meals, we follow the example of Jesus and of the apostles of the early church.
To exhibit hospitality
Potluck is a chance for an Adventist church to not only welcome people to a place of worship, but also to make people feel truly at home.
Spirituality and church can be sensitive topics. And for many, church could even be an uncomfortable place based on their past experiences.
By opening up church doors to share a meal with whoever would like to join, Adventists want to make church welcoming and comforting. No intimidation or gate-keeping.
And of course, there is nothing like a huge table of food to invite people to enjoy.
But you might be wondering, “I’ve never been in an Adventist church before. Can I still come to potluck?”
The answer is a resounding “yes!”
Let’s talk a bit more about who can come to church potluck.
Who goes to church potluck?
Anyone can come to church potluck! Even if you didn’t know it was happening or didn’t bring a dish. Seriously. Adventists desire to show hospitality, no matter the situation, whether it’s to families who are visiting from far away, former congregation members, or first-time church-comers.
Potluck is an event where people from all different walks of life come together. They have different backgrounds, incomes, opinions, traditions, education, and vocations.
And all are welcome. No one is turned away.
Adventist church potluck is also a great opportunity to provide a meal for those who are visiting, for those who are out-of-town guests, and for church members to fellowship with these guests and with one another.
The people are what make potluck special. Even more than all the great food (which is saying a lot, because there is usually a ton of good food).
And if you’re wondering how you can participate in a potluck, we’ve got you covered.
How can you participate in a church potluck?
A great way to find out when church potluck is happening in your area is to check out a local Adventist church. Check your preferred map app or yellow pages to see if there’s one close to you.
The church bulletin, a piece of paper you’ll probably receive upon arrival, usually lists church events, including potluck.
This will also give you a chance to ask the greeter what the potluck schedule is like, as different congregations have potluck at different times or different intervals.
You might also be able to look online at that church’s website for an online version of the bulletin or for a potluck schedule posted on their calendar.
Whatever works for you, know that you are always welcome at an Adventist church. Whether you’re coming for the church service, the potluck, or bringing your kids to Sabbath School, we’re glad to see you!
It’s not necessary to bring anything, and you don’t even need to already know someone or already know anything about Adventism.
If you want to know more about what it’s like to visit an Adventist church, check out our page that describes what Adventist church services are like.
Questions about Adventists? Ask here!
Find answers to your questions about Seventh-day Adventists
What Do Adventists Offer for Young Adults?In recent years, the age group often classified as “young adults” has been trickier to engage. It’s been a significant concern for Christian churches around the world. Though interestingly enough, similar observations...
Do I Need to be an Adventist to be Saved? The answer to this question is simply, “no.” When it comes to salvation in Jesus Christ, all that is required of a person is to acknowledge Jesus’ sacrifice for us, believe that He has saved us, and claim the free gift of...
Do You Have to be Vegetarian to be Adventist?Of course not. Membership in the Seventh-day Adventist Church has never included any dietary requirements. However, there might be some reasons people might think that. So many Adventists are vegetarians or even vegan, and...
All About Seventh-day Adventist ColporteursThe Seventh-day Adventist Church uses a variety of methods to spread the hope of the gospel to the world. One of these ways is through colporteuring, also called “canvassing” or “literature evangelism.” As you can probably...
What is an Adventist Book Center (ABC)? When you walk into any one of the many Adventist Book Center (ABC) locations, chances are you’ll be greeted by pleasant gospel music in the background, friendly employees, and row after row of Christian books, movies, Bibles,...
Do Seventh-day Adventists Celebrate Holidays? Wondering whether your Adventist classmate or coworker keeps the same holidays you do? Perhaps you want to include them in some festivities, but you also want to respect their beliefs. Thus, you’re unsure of how to...
The Adventist Haystack (It’s Not What You Think) + 4 Recipes If you’ve ever heard Seventh-day Adventists mention “haystacks,” they’re probably not talking about literal stacks of hay.Haystacks are basically a taco salad—with an Adventist spin on it! Most versions are...
Do Seventh-day Adventists Believe in Medical Care? Adventists talk a lot about health principles and disease prevention. But how do we handle sickness and medical needs when they inevitably come along? The Seventh-day Adventist Church believes in and supports...
Why do Adventists Emphasize Religious Liberty?Adventists see religious liberty as an essential human right. After all, God endowed humanity with freedom of choice from the very beginning. So we believe it’s best for governments to also support their citizens’ rights...
All about Adventist Elementary SchoolsThe Seventh-day Adventist Church operates the largest Protestant education system in the world. A big part of this system is our K-8 elementary schools, or primary schools, as they’re known in other parts of the world. Here you...
What are Pathfinder / Adventurer Clubs?Like the boy or girl scouts, Pathfinders and Adventurers learn about nature and life skills. But what makes these clubs special is their purpose to bring young people closer to Jesus. If you’ve wondered about Pathfinder or...
13th Sabbath Offering: What It Is and Why It MattersThe Seventh-day Adventist Church has emphasized service and mission work from its earliest days. That’s why there’s a collective “offering calendar” most Adventist congregations follow to support these efforts. Each...
A Look at Adventist Colleges and Universities On the outside, Seventh-day Adventist universities may not look much different than other college campuses. But the real differences are beneath the surface. Adventist Universities are all about helping each student have a...
What is ASI? (Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries) ASI, which stands for Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries, is a membership-based organization that provides support for Seventh-day Adventist laypeople (Adventist professionals who aren’t pastors). The...
What are Adventist Evangelistic Meetings? The Seventh-day Adventist Church puts a huge emphasis on sharing the gospel through evangelism, or sharing the gospel through preaching, teaching, and testimony. One of the ways we accomplish this is by organizing public...
Christian Summer Camps—A Cherished Adventist Ministry School’s out, the sun’s shining, and your kids are thrilled to have the summer ahead of them. Then three days in, you hear, “I’m bored…” What’s something kids can do that’s fun and active, but also wholesome and...
Do Adventists Have Their Own Bible? Adventists have some unique beliefs—you might be able to name some of them right now. The seventh-day Sabbath. Death as a sleep. Hell as nonexistence. Where do they get these teachings from? Do they use their own version of the...
What is Vespers? Friday rolls around, and you’re spending time with your Adventist friends or relatives when they mention they’re going to vespers tonight. They said the word so nonchalantly. Maybe that made you feel like you should know what it means. Maybe that’s...
Church Leaders: What is the Role of an Adventist Pastor? What is the role of a pastor in the Adventist Church? The position itself, at least as far as a local congregation is concerned, is not much different from that of pastors in other protestant denominations. An...
The Leadership Structure of the Adventist Church The Seventh-day Adventist Church has a representative form of structure that connects its 90,000-plus congregations across the globe and gives its members a part in decision-making. Though the Church was incorporated in...
Everything You Need to Know About Sabbath Meals For Seventh-day Adventists, sharing a Sabbath meal with friends and family is one of the most special and memorable parts of the Sabbath. That’s why we want to share with you all about Sabbath meals and why they’re such...
What to Expect When You Go to an Adventist Church If you’re attending an Adventist church for the first time, you may wonder what it’s really like. While each Adventist church is unique in its collective personality and local culture, Adventist church services are...
What is the Adventist Education System? Seventh-day Adventists have historically upheld the importance of a well-rounded, high-quality education. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching and learning, the Adventist Education system operates on the...
All About Adventist Evangelism Evangelism is simply sharing the truths of the Bible with someone else. And Adventists are all into it.This post will show you why Adventists take evangelism so seriously. It also covers the role that evangelism played in the formation...
The Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal The Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal is a songbook used worldwide by many Adventist congregations during their worship services. Since its publication in 1985, it has helped foster praise to God while reminding church members of our...
Everything You Need to Know About Sabbath School Sabbath School is the Bible study component of the church program at most Seventh-day Adventist Churches. It’s a time of Bible study on a specific topic or lesson. Instead of listening to a preacher, people interact...
What Are Adventist Sermons Like? In nearly every Seventh-day Adventist Church, the sermon is the focal point of the main service—similar to many Protestant Christian denominations. It is a time of biblical instruction by the pastor, who shares what they’ve been...
Who are Adventists? The Seventh-day Adventist Church—“Adventists” for short—is a Christian denomination of ordinary people who seek to follow Jesus and live out His mission in this world. Established in 1863, we hold to the Protestant principle of sola scriptura,...
How Do Adventists Choose What to Eat? Every day, parents go through the ritual of getting their kids to eat what is healthy and good while trying to steer them away from what can hinder the growth of their developing bodies. Nutritionists work with their clients to...
Didn’t find your answer? Ask us!
We understand your concern of having questions but not knowing who to ask—we’ve felt it ourselves. When you’re ready to learn more about Adventists, send us a question! We know a thing or two about Adventists.