It was a trying, disappointing time. In a few months, our attendance had dropped from near 400 to about 300 each Sunday. Two of three elders had resigned, dissolving the eldership. Unhappy people left. People said it was my fault, the previous elders’ fault, and the ones who were still there’s fault. According to reports, the church was cold and unfriendly.
A Christian widow moved into a condo in our area. Chris, “Cricket,” Veal was a loving, happy Christian lady. She missed most of the fuss. She didn’t select a side to cheer for and alienate others.
She did something I’ve never seen before. She bought a folding table and folding chairs. Once a month, from our church directory, she selected six to eight people to invite to her home for a meal. Gail and I were invited more than once. It was because of Cousin Zeke, my ventriloquist figure.
It was simple, but powerful. We ate. We talked. Cousin Zeke and I chatted a few minutes. We went home. Cricket did it again next month. She wanted to become acquainted with Christians at Berry’s Chapel. She thought this was a good way. It took time to cook once a month for 8-10 people. She invested money to buy groceries. But it paid great dividends for Cricket and the people she blessed in her home. After doing this a few months, Chris’s observation on the congregation, “This is the friendliest church I’ve ever seen!”
Why was her observation different from many who could not survive the cold, unfriendly people in the congregation a few months before?
What Can I Learn from That?
- This is a good way for shepherds to relate to sheep. I find my name memory improves when I eat with people.
- The “Cricket Method” is ideal for a Bible teacher. I remember a lady who read stories to a group of young people on her front porch. I walked a mile to take part. I remember the Santa Clause she gave us at Christmas, made of an apple, marshmallow, and gum drops on toothpicks. That was 65 years ago.
- Initiating this practice is a good way to apply the principles in 1 Peter 4:8, 9:
And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling (NKJV).
But I Don’t Have Time!
How about every six months or once a year? Direction is more important than speed. Something every few months is better than nothing forever. Do something, intentionally, and regularly to practice love and hospitality to other Christians and non-Christians. Luke 14:12-14
We appointed new elders. We survived the “Fuss of ’95.” A few years later, we averaged 400+ for the year. Many people contributed to the survival and revival of the church. They’ve been fuss-free for twenty-three years. One of the people I remember during that time was a newcomer, Cricket Veal. She “did what she could, with what she had, where she was” (Mark 14:8).
What suggestions do you have for showing love during a difficult time?
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