We've done polls at www.SmallGroups.com in the past about various topics. One poll question we previously asked was, "When was the last time your whole small group ate a meal together?" I was a little surprised, but excited, about the results. A majority of those who responded said their small group has shared a meal together in the last month! Granted, our polling methods are not scientific, but I was delighted to see these results.
Perhaps groups tend to share meals together more around holidays or before and after seasonal breaks, but I suspect there is a trend toward groups "breaking bread" more frequently together. I believe this is important for several reasons:
1) Eating meals together was clearly a practice of the early church. And from what we read in Acts 2:42-47, it was part of the core practices that propelled the growth of the early church.
2) "Breaking bread" in the early church seems to have been part of the regular "Lord's Supper" practice of the early believers, rather than the more ceremonial version we commonly practice today. Participating in this meal as a community obviously brought a profound sense of the Lord's presence to the group. There's no reason this aspect of sharing a meal together couldn't have the same impact today.
3) Having a meal together maximizes your time together for sharing and relationships. Rather than trying to rush and get supper in before group, why not go a little earlier to group and share that meal time together. The same is true of breakfast or lunch.
4) Meals allow the whole intergenerational family to share time together. Rather than trying to make arrangements for what to do with the kids during group, meals are great times to incorporate everyone in the family into the group. My own kids feel very connected to our group partly because of the meal we all share together.
5) My experience has been that sharing a meal together whenever the group meets has significantly increased the community and spiritual health of small groups. I led groups for years where we only had a short snack time. When we switched to sharing simple meals together that everyone helped prepare, our sense of unity and spiritual growth greatly accelerated.
"They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." Acts 2:46-47