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John Pavlovitz speaks to Wingate campus about creating a bigger table

Rachael Robinson, Staff Writer

John Pavlovitz spoke to Wingate students, faculty and staff last Wednesday. Pavlovitz is a pastor, blogger and the author of the novel A Bigger Table. He spoke to the audience about expanding their horizons and opening up themselves to new people, with his theory of “creating a bigger table.”

johnMosaicHeadshot
Photo credit: Pavlovitz website

When Pavlovitz speaks of creating a bigger table, he has an image in his brain. The table in his parents’ home. He mentioned that his house “was just an expensive covering for the kitchen.”    

His family started spending time around the kitchen table. As their family and friends grew, they moved to the larger dining room table. He then remembers his father going to the garage and having he and his brothers help add wood to make the table even bigger

Expanding your personal “table” though takes practice. It must be built upon using the four foundations which he calls the legs. The foundations of radical hospitality, total authenticity, true diversity and agenda-free relationships.

Everyone should be welcome, regardless of whether their ideals match yours, no one should feel they need to be an edited version of themselves.  It should be a safe place for everyone and a place to just hear stories. You also can’t be afraid of people leaving your table. People might not fit and that’s okay.

Pavlovitz also spoke about activism. Activism doesn’t have to be standing on the side of a street holding a sign and yelling at individuals as they pass. “Activism is using your privilege to raise up others,” Pavlovitz explains. “Use whatever is at your disposal.”

You could end up on the street with a sign, but activism can be simple. Taking a stand during conversations with your extended family when you would normally walk out or posting comments on social media posts that you think are wrong is enough.Both he admits “may go horribly wrong,” but that’s the point. Activism can be costly and painful.

Pavlovitz grew up in New York. His family was behind him 100 percent and he felt the same way about God. He didn’t realize until he went to college in Philadelphia just how many “false” stories he had been told about the world. He realized that he felt that he was above the people who weren’t like him.

Philadelphia was full of new stories, he felt like a fish that had been thrown into a new aquarium too quickly. He was having all these experiences and felt like he was using new muscles. He realized he was beginning to care. His table was growing.  

A pivotal moment for Pavlovitz was when he was asked to replace the youth leader at the church he attended outside of Philadelphia. That is where he fell in love with preaching. When someone suggested getting paid, he figured he would give it a try. Pavlovitz and his wife would then move to Charlotte, where he would become the pastor of a mega Methodist Church.

During this period Pavlovitz began to have theological questions about the messages he was spreading. He realized that his table had gotten smaller again. He was always surrounded by people from the church. He also began to notice that the only people who were welcomed at the church were people who fit the mold. There were no “marginalized” people.

That’s when Pavolvitz started writing. He started his blog where he could write about these issues. “All I did was speak my truth and I got a bigger table” said Pavolvitz.

Edited by: Brea Childs