Anytime there’s an opportunity to gather together with someone else to enjoy good company over good food, it’s a treat. Getting the entire church together to enjoy time together over a meal is an especially big treat! So I always look forward to our monthly potluck events that precede our discipleship training events.
As many of you know, I’m originally from Texas and moved to Seattle about 8 years ago. Truth be told, since moving here I’ve learned that “potluck” may be a word people know up here, but it’s a cultural experience most folks do not understand and are not familiar with! It seems I’m not alone in that observation.
Because I was raised in Texas and steeped in southern culture (my dad’s from Mississippi, my mom’s from Athens Georgia, I spent two years at University of Arkansas and graduated from Auburn in Alabama – so I’m a well rounded southerner) you could say I’m the closest thing we have to an in-house expert on potluck culture. So, I was asked to share a few pointers regarding what makes for a great potluck event.
First of all, get your mindset right! Come to the potluck with this thought in mind: “I want to bless the socks of the folks God brings through to our church and through this food line today!” Here are some ways to do that…
Think hospitality not humility
No one likes a showoff unless you’re showing off your cooking. So whip up your favorite family recipe and bring your best dish! At our church in Dallas, the dishes were so good, the gals made a church cookbook which became a coveted item. Everyone wanted to know the secret behind the amazing dishes they got to experience at those potluck events so they could enjoy them at home whenever they wanted.
Bring lots of food to share! Nothing ruins a church event like seeing an elder and deacon fighting over the last chicken wing! The solution is to have an abundance of food! So here’s a good rule of thumb, bring enough for your family and then some to share.
Think Maberry (as in “The Andy Griffith Show”)
The event will be as warm and friendly as you make it! I know it can be awkward. There you are sitting next to someone you’ve seen plenty of times before. You should know their name. You don’t remember it (I’m promise I’m the worst at this). What do you do? Eat another bite of Linda Freyberg’s amazing melt-in-your-mouth sheet cake and find the warm fuzzy courage to extend a simple “hello!” We’re a large church and we have to be intentional in making an effort to get past the awkwardness to get to know one another. The bright side is that they feel awkward and probably forgot your name too! Here’s a little secret: the first person to own up to not knowing the other persons name even though they should – has a leg up on the other person.
These are times to celebrate all God has done, is doing, and will do in and through this church! Share with one another about how you’ve been experiencing evidences of God’s grace. Are you chatting with someone new? What could be more inviting than for them to know you care about them and for them to hear that this is a church were God is at work? So get to know them and share with them about the great thing God’s doing in your life and in this church.
If you read through the gospels, you will see just how often Jesus shared a meal with people. And at the end of the bible, Jesus’ return is characterized as a great feast. Far from being a cultural habit or a church tradition, sharing a meal is a great way to practice relationship like Jesus did. And when we consider that all of life is worship, even our cooking can (and should) be done for the glory of God.
You can bet your bottom dollar that if our church puts these simple, tried, and tested techniques to work then we’ll see the best church potluck west of the Mississippi river!