When Were Potlucks Invented? The Answer May Be More Biblical Than You Think

March 28, 2016Mar 28, 2016

In many churches — especially Baptist ones — potlucks are almost as important a means for believers to fellowship together as Bible studies, although some churches prefer to call these shared meals "food fellowship," "faith dish dinner," "pot-providence," or "pot-bless."

But how this popular tradition began?


A column by The Straight Dope traces the origins of the term "potluck" back to the Middle Ages, when in an effort to not waste food, leftovers were kept warm in a pot in inns and taverns to feeds travelers at a moment's notice. If there was still food in the pot by the time you arrived, you got the "luck of the pot."

But according to the Huffington Post, Wheaton College professor Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus says the original of the tradition is church-based...and even goes back to the early church of the New Testament.

Brumberg-Kraus points to 1 Corinthians, where Paul encourages the sharing of food among both wealthy and poor believers. Others point to Acts 2 where believers broke bread and shared it with each other.

Undoubtedly, the concept of people coming together to share meals pre-dates the New Testament, but it has a long history in Christianity of bringing believers together to both fellowship and attend to each other's needs. To this day potlucks symbolize unity in the church and an acknowledgement that God blesses us by providing us with enough abundance to share.

What does your church call them?