by Joani Schultz
A free lunch…really? Sounds good to me!
And it sounded good to a lot of others, too.
One congregation launched its new mission statement with a giant serving of radical hospitality. To show the church put its money where its mouth was (pun intended), members invited friends, neighbors, co-workers, the low-income housing residents next door to the church, and families to join in a meal. (Jesus would be proud!)
The congregation offered a food truck extravaganza! And here’s how it happened one Sunday morning: (See what you can do to put your spin on this innovative outreach!)
SERVING UP RADICAL HOSPITALITY
1. Leadership Embraced Radical Hospitality
Months prior, the church’s leadership wrestled with their mission statement. After deciding they wanted to put radical hospitality into action, they chose to sponsor a food truck feed. A few years prior, they’d experienced a workshop that featured the film When God Left the Building, and a workshop that featured Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore: And How 4 Acts of Love Will Make Your Church Irresistible.
2. No Bait and Switch
Since people today can sniff a fake a mile away, before the event, the pastor reminded everyone that the free meal invitation was just that. No bait and switch. No ulterior motives. Just friendship. Just Jesus-style love.
3. Worship Service Intro
To kick off things that Sunday morning before the picnic, the pastor interviewed a church member who felt especially blessed by RADICAL HOSPITALITY. She shared times she needed a place to live and people stepped up to offer their home. What made it so radical? Nobody knew. The free rooms offered gave kind hospitality with no fanfare or payback. A no-strings-attached generosity. That’s the kind of reputation the church wanted to be known for.
4. All Are Welcome
Teenagers and young adults applauded the “cool” factor of food trucks. The trend of food truck eateries on the church lawn made it easy to invite friends. Every generation got into the fun. Teenagers clumped in jovial groups. Grandparents held their grandkid’s hands as they played on the church’s playground equipment. Eaters joined in conversations to meet their table mates. Old folks hung out at tables in the shade. People didn’t even complain as they waited in line to order—because everyone was simply enjoying “being together”!
5. Fun Food for All
Everybody got to order what they liked to eat. (Okay, I admit I splurged on the jalapeño beef sausage sandwich and sweet potato waffle fries.) Word spread that the ever-popular meatball sandwich ran out. Nonetheless, I celebrated that nobody had to angst over cooking—except the food truck chefs. The food trucks provided all the food, so the typical kitchen ladies’ or men’s group who flip pancakes got to relax. They got to join in the conversations and friend-making.
Maybe there is such a thing as a free lunch after all.
Let this food truck lunch inspire your church. How might you practice RADICAL HOSPITALITY?