Meet Me in the Middle
By Gene Shepherd | November 14, 2019
I’ll admit it – when my wife and I first started attending Fullerton Free, we enjoyed being able to anonymously slip into a pew for a service, then pop right out as soon as it was over. While that sort of no strings attached commitment may have initially been easy, after a couple of years, it wasn’t very satisfying. We didn’t feel right sitting next to the same people every Sunday morning, while not even knowing their names or anything about them. In an attempt to break out of our detached behavior, my wife and I decided to change our attitude by taking aggressive action. To do that, we hosted an EV Free, 2nd Service, Center Aisle Garden Potluck Luncheon at our house one Sunday afternoon. After clearing the idea with the church office, I started passing out over 100 printed invitations to startled people who sat anywhere near us on the center aisle. After assuring everyone that we weren’t selling anything, about 35 people were actually brave enough to make a reservation and attend. It was a delightful way to begin a relationship with people that we worshiped with every week. To this day, there is not a Sunday when we don’t end up talking to some of the people who attended that luncheon. In fact, on several occasions we’ve been known to meet up with some of them at other church events, work on church projects together and go out after services for a Sunday lunch. While lunching in our garden was a simple, perhaps even odd thing to do, it has dramatically helped my wife and I have an increased sense of community at Fullerton Free.
Because our original center aisle luncheon did require a lot of work to pull off, we’ve been a little slow to schedule another, even though there are always new people sitting around us on the center aisle. That’s especially true since the congregation has gone from 3 services to 2. However, at the last All-Church Family BINGO night, when looking for a familiar face to join, I had a revelation: Why am I not taking advantage of this great event? Kelsey Crowe, Shepherd of Intergenerational Ministry and her team do All-Church Family Events like this on a quarterly basis. It’s a ready-made place to meet up with some of the people who sit near us in church! So, since that BINGO night, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing – inviting people in our worship area to join us at each quarterly event. To make it easy for us to connect, I just invite my center aisle neighbors to Meet Me In The Middle. After all, church people get used to their spots and tend to return to them week after week. Whether worshiping on Sunday or partying at All-Church Family Events, you can join my wife and me in the middle of the room.