Amy Toman

Hospitality in a Time of Food Allergies and Disorders

If creating a meal for someone with multiple allergies is not an option, create a gathering that doesn’t include a meal. Have a game night and instead of a meal provide some store-bought safe snacks. Things like chips, salsa, and popcorn are usually great for most people with allergies and food disorders. By creating an activity to focus on, people won’t be focused on their food. This will help the guests feel more comfortable and less anxious at your event. 

As the holiday season approaches, many of us will share food with friends and family.  We will have family over for holiday meals.  We will share snacks at church events, parties, and homeschool groups. Everywhere we look we will encounter food. For many of us, food is the most delightful and joyous part of gatherings. What would December be without Christmas cookies and hot chocolate? Our culture, among others, revolves around food and eating together. We look forward to meals together at the table, find enjoyment in the anticipation of what food we will eat, and create traditions that are all centered around food. Practicing hospitality through meals and celebratory food is something observable in the scriptures. It’s not an exaggeration to say that food is an essential part of human life. We are so thankful to be a part of a church that shows hospitality with consideration for those who have food allergies and disorders. But I know that many churches do not show the same consideration.
What about those people for whom food is not a celebratory moment but instead can cause feelings of fear, self-consciousness, and exclusion?  How do we handle gatherings for individuals who have different food needs?  Partaking in meals together is one form of hospitality that God has shown us we are to partake in together, and yet there is sin in the world that even distorts the good. But what happens when we encounter individuals who have food allergies, sensitivity, neurodivergence, food disorders, and more?
What Does the Bible Say About Eating Together?
The best place to start when asking questions about anything is to open God’s Word. Today we are going to see what the scriptures say about eating together.

Genesis 18:6. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. 3 He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord,[a] do not pass your servant by. 4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5 Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”

One of the first instances we see of food and hospitality being offered is in Genesis. Here, Abraham is approached by strangers. His first reaction is to invite them in, give them the best food he can offer, and have a feast. Providing food for others has been ingrained in us as humans. It has been around since the beginning of time.

Matthew 14:19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.

In Matthew, we are shown the example of Jesus feeding people after he spoke. These people refused to go home, and Jesus knowing they would need food, provided that for them. The people all sat on the grass together and feasted. They gave thanks and were appreciative of the food that was provided for them. Eating together must be important since it is seen many times throughout the New Testament. (John 21:9-14, Acts 2:42, Luke 9:16)
The last scripture we are going to look at is Romans 14:1-4.

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

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Little Voices in the Pews

Keeping our children in church every Sunday is HARD. It is hard being the only adult able to correct and train on a weekly basis. It is hard to constantly be leaving service to discipline a toddler and continually coming back in. It is hard, but it is so worth it. There is no better use of my time than to teach our children the importance of corporate worship together.

We had the privilege of worshipping with some friends last Sunday. Jacob team preaches with another faithful pastor, meaning from time to time we as a family get to travel and be visitors with other churches we otherwise wouldn’t ever get to see. It is always such a privilege and a treat when we get to worship together as a whole family in the pew. Since becoming a Pastor’s wife, I will never again take for granted the entire family sitting together during worship. But this post isn’t about that. This post is about giving thanks for what I observed in our children during this service. Our children have been sitting through church services for their whole life. They are used to sitting through a worship service. Services are often interactive, including singing together, responsive readings, prayer and a sermon. Whenever we attend another church, we have the same, if not higher, expectations than on a regular Sunday. This past Sunday we asked a lot of our kids ages 2, 5, 8 and 11.  They have amazed us in the past in their ability to be flexible to various orders of service and to learn from God’s Word from a multitude of different preachers.
Last Sunday was one of those days.  We asked them to wake extra early so we could drive a little over an hour to a friend’s church. We then asked them to sit quietly during the entire service, which was different from what they were used to. A wonderful service, but different. We then asked them to eat quietly at a table and play calmly while we had lunch at the church with some friends. Unfortunately, due to the weather we were unable to play outside, which was the original hope. We asked a lot of our children and they exceeded our expectations in a new environment. 
Children Can’t Sit Long
Thinking back on the worship service, I had several reasons to give thanks. Our normal Sunday service runs about 1 hour and 10 minutes. There are ample times when the children are active, responsive, up and down participating through singing and reading. We allow them to bring a notebook and pen, or a small toy for the younger ones, to use during the sermon to help keep their hands occupied and ears open. This week, I forgot to grab our church notebooks. A Big mistake! Or so I thought until we arrived at church. Again, our children surprised me! They were perfectly fine listening to the sermon without their notebooks. Not only did they sit quietly (well, all but the toddler) but they sat through a service that was 1.5 hours. An extra 20 minutes longer than they are used to. They were friendly and interactive with those who sat around us. And despite not knowing many of the songs included in the service, they began to sing along on the 2nd or 3rd verse as best they could.
So why am I telling you this? It is not to brag about our kids, or to brag about our parenting. It is to brag about God. To brag about the goodness of His Word. To brag about the all captivating Word that he speaks to all ages. I often hear parents, grandparents and well meaning friends say that children can not sit through the worship service. I hear that children are too young to sit still for that long. That they are not able to understand the sermon. The word of God written in Scripture is above their heads. We hear that children must have the story retold in an easier way. How foolish can we be to insinuate that the Word of God is too hard for our children? That we, sinful creatures can take the word of God and minimize it for our children. That we know better than God. It’s insulting to God and proves our selfish, sinful, conceited attitudes. 
Many children in our western culture have been told they can’t sit in worship. They have been led to believe that the Bible is too difficult for them to understand. That there are only certain stories worth learning about. Why these stories? Because some believe kids can only learn the “fun stories of scripture.” Children are taught about Jericho falling down, but are they taught about Joshua, Rahab, or Moses? Are they taught why the walls of Jericho needed to fall down? Are they taught of the victory of God in fulfilling His great promises to His people? Are they taught how destructive and devastating sin is? Are they exposed to the ultimate reality of God’s wrath against His enemies? Are they told of the grace of God in Christ? Are they taught about the significance of the return of
What Are Children Being Taught in “Kids Church”
For us at Redeeming Family, we desire (as do many who serve the church by volunteering with children’s ministry programs) to see the lambs brought to the great shepherd Jesus. Often the confusion we experience surrounding children’s ministry isn’t about motive, it is about method.
From our observations through years of participating and volunteering in a variety of capacities in multiple churches, the content of “kids church” is often lacking at best, and counterproductive at worst. Children might be taught that Jesus was a good man (rather than the God-Man) who died for them to save them from their sins. But are they taught the consequences of their sin?
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8 Tips for Starting Family Worship in Your Home

Family worship should be a time that your family looks forward to. A time of connection with each other in our daily world. A memory that will stay with your children, no matter their age.

Last week we talked about what family worship is, why it’s important and provided some resources to help get your family started. Family worship is very important and should be one of the highest priorities in daily life. Starting family worship can be tricky, and staying consistent can be even trickier. Today, I want to give you some 8 Tips to help your family with Family Worship.
8 Tips for Family Worship
1. Start with the Bible
There is a time and a place to use a devotional, but for family worship the best thing to do is to read the scriptures. There is so much meat in the scriptures themselves to read and discuss as a family. God has given us HIS word, not a devotional. Instill in your family that HIS word is supreme and is the more important thing to be read.
2. Chose a Book of the Bible YOU enjoy and Read Verse By Verse
What books of the Bible to read during family worship can be a controversial subject. Do you read through whole books or just pick and chose verses? What about certain books of the Bible that include long lists of genealogies, or hard-to-pronounce names? Well here’s our stance: no skipping books or jumping around (no skipping passages) from book to book based on a topic. Instead choose your favorite book, or a smaller book and read verse by verse chapter by chapter. This is the best way we have found to read God’s word. Please don’t start with Leviticus if you are just beginning family worship. Some of our favorites to start with are Genesis, Luke, Proverbs, Esther, John, Ruth, and Romans.
3. Read During Mealtimes
We have found that reading during mealtime might seem odd but it is a perfect time when you have small kids. If you have younger children, they are contained and occupied and will be more likely to sit quietly and listen. If your children are older, I suggest reading right after you eat or right before you eat. This is a somewhat natural time that Families are together and sitting. Anchoring family worship to a current family routine is a great way to make sure that family worship happens daily. Our kids sometimes even remind us or ask in anticipation when we will be reading together from God’s word!
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