Lasagne. It’s the highlight of a Trinity Gardens (SA) church lunch. The locals know that you have to be quick or you’ll miss out. There are lots of other delicacies available—your typical potluck fare, with Adventist punch (a mix of unidentifiable cordial, juice and sometimes lemonade), Nutmeat patties, salads and an abundance of desserts.
But it’s the lasagne that is the crowd favourite. It goes in a flash and some have even learned to position themselves so that, without appearing too hasty, as soon as grace is finished they’re there, ready to snatch it up!
They were there because someone had taken the time to stay in their lives and invite them.
So why am I telling you this, I can hear you asking? Well, for me, there was another highlight of the Trinity Gardens potluck lunch that day. Living in Sydney, I don’t get back to visit the church I grew up in very often (and it seems I’m out of practice—by the time I got to the tables, all the lasagne was gone). This time, while seeing all the regulars, people I had grown up around, known all my life, I saw four people who I had not seen at church for maybe a decade or more.
On the way home, I asked my mum about them, whether they were back attending church. “No,” she said. “This is the first time I’ve seen them for years.” She went on to tell me about an older lady from church who keeps in touch with those who have left. How this lady had invited them to come to the Christmas program. How she sends them cards and continues to care. They weren’t there for the lasagne and maybe not even for the program. They were there because someone had taken the time to stay in their lives and invite them.
They may not come again until next Christmas but the connection is there.
As we enter this new year, think about all the people you know who have left church. I encourage you, don’t stop praying for them. Keep in touch, be a friend and care without ulterior motives.
Often we can get caught up in the motive of converting. It’s great to put on special programs as a church. But do we fall into the trap of only inviting people for special events? Looking to fill our quota when a seminar rolls into town? What about Christ’s motive of love? Let’s make 2013 a year to reconnect with family and keep in touch.
Jarrod Stackelroth is assistant editor of RECORD.