Discovering the Power of Meaningful Mealtimes By Ryan Rush

by | Jun 6, 2024 | The Love Offering Guest Blog Series, Uncategorized

You may have noticed that the number of families that have regular mealtimes together is in decline. Some estimates say that in the past twenty years, the frequency of family dinners has dropped 33 percent. The Atlantic reported that “the average American eats one in every five meals in the car, one in four Americans eats at least one fast food meal every single day, and the majority of American families report eating a single meal together less than five days a week.”  1


Forbes magazine estimates that the corporate world invests $366 billion per year in leader development, but evidence demonstrates that the most influential leadership development happens long before most realize: every time moms and dads are investing in their children.  Such influence involves the earliest feelings of safety and security the child feels in the presence of his caregivers through the most basic activities of conversation, correction, quality time, and, of course, mealtimes.  


A few years ago, I presented a challenge to our congregation at Kingsland Baptist Church (outside of Houston). “Moms and Dads, Grandparents; do you know what your kids need more than great schools and good tutoring and the right sports league and that great vacation you are considering? They need to share a meal with you regularly. They need to catch who you are and experience life with you when it is not a special occasion.” 


The challenge was simple: Have five meaningful mealtimes with people you love each week – and share one of those same meals once a month with someone outside your normal circle.


Hundreds of people agreed to experiment with the concept, and the results were astounding. People reported news that seemed almost too good to be true: marriages were strengthened, moms and dads were less stressed, siblings were calmer and got along better, people who had been fighting addictions for years began to face those challenges head-on, and in more than a few cases, students’ academic grades improved. Families were profoundly affected by doing this one simple thing: having five meaningful mealtimes together each week. 


 “What! That’s all?” I hear you saying. “You’ve got to be kidding!” 


That’s it. Five meaningful meals together with the people you love can be the difference-maker between families that thrive and those that barely survive. Anybody can do it, but most people don’t.


 Incidentally, there’s a reason why the challenge is to eat five meaningful mealtimes with people you love—rather than specifically with your direct family members. Many people don’t have direct access to family members, either because of their season of life or because others in their family aren’t interested in engaging in this process. If you’re single, or others in your family aren’t committed to this practice, don’t give up and eat alone! Be extra intentional about finding some other people in your life who would also benefit from regular times of eating together, and make that commitment. 


Will having five meaningful mealtimes each week make a difference in your life and the lives of your family members? In the lives of others in your community? In your world? Count on it. The Scripture promises, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good.” ( Psalm 34:8 ESV)


1 Chris Westfall, “Leadership Development Is a $366 Billion Industry: Here’s Why Most Programs Don’t Work,” Forbes, June 20, 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/chriswestfall/2019/06/20/leadership-development-why-most-programs-dont-work/?sh=ac585b961de4



About the Author:

Ryan Rush, PhD, serves as pastor of the 5000-member Kingsland Baptist Church in Katy, Texas, outside of Houston. A frequent guest on radio, podcast and TV outlets, Rush is the author of three books, including his latest book, Restore the Table: Discovering the Powerful Connections of Meaningful Mealtimes. Rush is a graduate of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and holds a PhD in Christian leadership with a ministry concentration from Dallas Baptist University. Ryan and Lana Rush live in Katy, Texas, and have three daughters, Ryley, Regan and Lily.


Connect with Ryan:









I’m Rachael Adams

I’m an author, speaker, and host of The Love Offering Podcast. My mission is to help women find significance and purpose throught Christ.

Recent Blog Posts