Supper clubs were the idea of the Michigan Conference Health Ministries Department, launched in many churches in 2007. Vicki Griffin, director of Michigan Conference Health Ministries, and her board members, encouraged churches of any size to open their doors to conduct health programs for their community, with the promise that their department would provide support and resources such as videos, slides, magazines and, possibly, even speakers.
Church member, Debbie Norris, was familiar with more traditional ways of evangelism, and had little interest in the supper club idea. She had read this statement, “When properly conducted, the health work is an entering wedge, making a way for other truths to reach the heart” (Counsels on Health, p 434.2), and reluctantly agreed to help coordinate some type of health outreach.
The very first night, Debbie was surprised by a great turnout from the community and couldn’t help but become excited. She said, “The Holy Spirit began to impress me, ‘This is the evangelism you were looking for.’” Debbie and the members decided they would create the “Heart Healthy Supper Club” and have met consistently each month.
Since its inception, over 200 community individuals have come through their doors, learning about their church, meeting its members and enjoying the presentations and food. They have met people from all over the Petoskey area, including a local pastor and his family who have regularly attended the club for years. Between 20 to 40 guests attend each month.
Supported by donations, supper club guests enjoy talks by members and experts on topics such as exercise, nutrition and resources. Members provide food, recipes, cooking demonstrations and friendship. Topics cover natural remedies, depression, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, plant-based diets, gardening, hypertension, fiber, and other topics people request.
Church members advertise by newspaper and email, as well as invite their friends. Several guests have taken Bible studies and attended church. One woman who now attends Petoskey Church is Kim. “I love our Supper Club because it helps me learn about selecting healthy foods,” she said. “I also love getting to meet new people every month. People here are so friendly and that is why I keep coming back.” Kim invited her friend, Debbie, and she enjoyed the experience. “I learned how to lower my blood pressure through adapting a healthier lifestyle,” said Debbie.
Cody Francis, pastor of the Petoskey Church, said that even though it is small, God has mightily blessed their efforts in more ways than one. “Petoskey members work as a team each month — cooking, cleaning, greeting and mingling with the guests. We are thrilled when it results in Bible studies and some attending our church services,” he said. “We are praying that eternal connections can be made through this outreach.”