One of the unsung “gifts” of the churches of God is fellowship. To be more specific, food. What I mean is eating: We eat well. And what a glorious gift that is! Don’t you agree?
Eating well is not a gift to be taken for granted. Many years ago while visiting a church, I was invited, on the spur of the moment, to a potluck in a private home. Not thinking anything of it, I eagerly accepted, even though I would be going empty-handed.
The house was spilling over with people, young and old, and all very hungry. This was the only potluck I have ever attended where there was clearly not enough food. There was food for maybe one third of the people. And though we prayed for a fishes-and-loaves miracle, most of us went away simply unfed.
Fortunately, I remember that potluck as an anomaly. In our church environment, we do food pretty well. And it is a ministry. In our aging congregation many of our folks eat alone regularly. Many don’t eat well. So what a blessing, as a congregation, to provide variety and bounty and fellowship to those without.
Even so, we have room for growth, and there are ways we can improve. Though every congregation has its own culture, here are some things to consider.
When planning a potluck contribution
- Try to bring enough for your household + one more.
- Bring a main dish and a side/dessert.
- If you’re single and/or don’t cook, bring a bag of chips, dinner rolls, and/or chicken from a deli.
- If you can’t contribute financially, offer to set up or clean up afterward.
At the potluck
- Let seniors/the infirm go first (some cannot stand long).
- Invite guests to the front of the line.
- Encourage young children to go through with an adult.
- Assess the crowd. Is there a lot of food? Or way more people? Adjust your portions so that everyone can eat.
- Wait until everyone has gone through before taking seconds.
If you’re setting up the potluck
- People will fill their plates with what they see first. So if there are more main dishes than salads, put them on the line first.
- Be thoughtful about what serving utensils are put out. Consider portion size and practicality.
- What dishes need to be pre-cut (bread, deserts, lasagna, etc)?
- Hold back one or two main dishes, especially if there are duplicates. Put these out when about half of the line has gone through. Those who don’t rush to be first should have options when they go through.
Thinking of others
This is not an exhaustive list, nor is it definitive. The point is that whether at potluck or any other time of fellowship, our contributions matter. What we bring to the congregation matters. It is a perfect environment to practice loving others as ourselves!
The apostle Paul encourages us in Philippians 2:4, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (ESV). Are we takers only, or are we there to bless and serve others?
We can’t all preach or teach. We are not all musical. But we all eat and enjoy good, loving fellowship. Young and old, wealthy and poor, we can all make a meaningful contribution.