Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)



First Advisor

MaryKate Morse, PhD

Second Advisor

Derek Voorhees, DMin


This dissertation reimagines the independent Christian Churches' practice of Communion as a means of belonging within a community—and as an opportunity for hospitality and welcoming others. Unfortunately, the deficient theological understanding and trivializing of communion within many independent Christian Churches contributes to a lack of ecclesial identity and authentic openness to others. It will be argued that when an independent Christian Church congregation prioritizes and collectively practices communion, it strengthens their identity, mission, and connection to one another and puts in place opportunities to welcome outsiders into their community through shared meals. The concept of permeable belonging will be introduced, with the ability to both create a space for trust and identity, while also allowing for new potential members to be fearlessly welcomed into circles of belonging. The intended outcome of this dissertation is an independent Christian Church congregation seamlessly connected to God and one another through both the communion (formal) and potluck (informal) tables, which become bases for the congregation’s relationships to the world around them. Chapter 1 identifies individualism’s problem of isolating and fragmenting people, spiritualizing faith rather than embodying it, and preventing communities from addressing injustices. Chapter 2 sets a scriptural foundation for the Lord’s Supper as a place of belonging and hospitality. Chapters 3 and 4 survey Eucharistic writings of pre-Nicene Christians and independent Christian Church leaders, respectively. Chapter 5 explores the important role of both the Communion table and the kitchen (or potluck) table in offering hospitality to others. Finally, Chapter 6 offers thoughtful applications of how to creatively think about and practice both the Lord’s Supper and shared meals in ways that foster both belonging and openness to others.

Included in

Christianity Commons