Book Review: Come to the Family Table: Slowing Down to Enjoy Food, Each Other, and Jesus by Ted and Amy Cunningham


REVIEW: Come to the Family Table is more than just another parenting book. It is also a recipe book, game book, discussion guide, a devotional, and even a prayer guide. This book is an all-inone book for families seeking to slow down in order to dig in to food, family, and faith. The Cunninghams share stories, advices, along with their own favorite recipes to write a book that is much needed in our fast food world!


Part 1: The Family Table is for Us

Space Around the Table

The family table is a much needed break in the midst of the grind. Families need to allow the meals time around the table to create much need margin to slow down. Family time around the table provide a family a place of relational safety where they can make eye contact, talk open, and be close physically. The family table is also an invitation to laugh.

A Place for Memories

Food is connected to tastes and smells that remind us of special moments and family events. A family table is about memories from the past and memories being made. The family table is where we make room for others. These times around a meal are opportunities to connect by play games and sharing secrets. A family gathering together, eating can be times of honoring our elders, indulging a little, learning to laugh, while they cultivating culinary adventures. The family table inspires the best of what we share in both recipes and in faith.

Food Wine, and God’s Favor

Enjoy God’s good gifts of food, wines and His blessings. God approves of enjoying food, and drink. We receive these gifts around tables. Food and wine are gifts, like any gift not be abuses. Too much food or drink can lead to gluttony and drunkenness, both a sin.

Together, Wherever

The family table is anywhere a family is together. A meal can provide a daily delay in the oasis and fortress provided by a home. It is an intentional time every day, allowing a family an escape from the distractions. Families also must work to plan a weekly withdrawal, intended to get out while still focusing on each other. The family table while out together is a time to practice courtesy, hospitality, and good manners. Parents also should find a time for a weekly withdrawal of their own, having a weekly date. Finally, as a family travels it is also an opportunity to take and make time to have a family table adventure by trying new routes, new things, not eating all the courses at one place, and even creating a family food journal.

The Family Constitution

The family table is where a family comes together to discuss belief, God and life. It is important as a family comes together they discuss what they believe as a family. Consider much like a church has a belief statement, a family should make a family constitution, a statement of what they believe, value, and know about faith. A family constitution can do a few things: 1.) Prioritize truth over emotions. 2.) Keep anger low and reduce arguments. 3.) Reduce stress and create safety.

Part 2: The Family Table Is for Others

Hospitality at the Table The family table welcomes families, friends and strangers to come to join. Hospitality is an open door for others to come and partake of family, food, and faith. Enjoy hospitality and don’t be overwhelmed by: 1.) Being prepared. 2.) Decluttering. 3.) Being aware. 4.) Avoiding trying to oneup your guests. 5.) Being spontaneous. 6) Including everyone. 7.) Being willing to share Christ.

A Simple Table

The simple fact of the family table is it prioritizes relationships over food. Simplicity and contentment are connected. When added to appreciation, it is easier to look at each day as a gift. Keeping it simple sets up our heart and life to be at peace. What does a family really need? How much do you really need? Consider as a family what you have and what you can share.

A Lavish Table

The family table wows family and friends, not just through food, but also through lavish love. There are five things that are defined by Joseph Michelli’s “Ritz principle” when entertaining guests: 1.) Define and refine. 2.) Empower through trust. 3.) Realize it’s not about you. 4.) Deliver wow. 5.) Leave a lasting footprint. Unexpected acts of services and love will wow your family guest and make them excited to come back to your family table.

Honoring Marriage at the Table

The family table pours into the marriage and families around it. Husbands and wives can become “back-up singers” that can advocate for other couples, especially those who are in hurting marriages. A meal can serve not only food but a place to work through emotions. First course is advocate and validate. Advocate for both spouses, by focusing on feelings not on issues. Second course is served up by asking questions and answering questions. Focus on what is true and avoid rewriting history. The third course is the sweet dessert of hope in Jesus. No matter the hurt, there is still hope found in Jesus and the love and forgiveness only He can offer.

The Love Jug

Finally, the family table points us to the True and Only Source of Life. We are plugged into the source of life. When a family or marriage tries to find the source of life in a spouse or child, it will end up in a place of blame, problems and pride. The formula for a healthy family love jug is parents and children 100% responsible for their own love jug and children that are 0% responsible for the parent’s love jug. Pouring into each other around the family table is fun when there are no expectations and it is done freely. Pouring into each other means that everyone is present in the moments and conversations and that Jesus is at the center.