3. People who are new to the church or guests of the church.
I LOVE these. What an opportunity to talk about the church, answer any questions they have, and offer them a blessing.
4. An area pastor.
It might be someone I just want to get to know. Or it might be for the purpose of mentoring, or building bridges for our church. This may set the table for some partnership in the Gospel, but, usually, it’s just hearing what God’s doing in other parts of our community.
5. My wife.
Every now and then, I love to just enjoy eating with my wife, Emily. There’s nothing wrong with strengthening your bond with your spouse … ever.
6. A community leader.
Sometimes, it’s great to have lunch with community leaders—those running 501(c)3s, city workers, your banker, etc. Here, we’re networking—but that shouldn’t preclude simply enjoying getting to know them as people.
I have, basically, 16 lunch slots a month. I usually spend two or three by myself—running errands, etc. I have a list in Nozbe (my task manager of choice) that has a list of names I would like to have lunch or a phone call with.
As of this morning, there are more than 60 names on that list. I even keeps notes about what they/I would like to talk about, and attach relevant stuff—their family information, any relevant emails, etc., it’s all on my phone. Some of these names are set to recur every so often. My best lunch slots, though, are reserved for staff and NVC members/guests.
Right now, some introverts are feeling drained even reading this post. Let me suggest you try it anyway.
Start small, say, with one or two per week. If you don’t pull a muscle doing that, increase it. The bigger point is to use our time wisely—setting the table for God to grow us and others through relationship.
I rarely eat alone. It blesses me, blesses our church and keeps me firmly rooted in an awareness that ministry is about people. It’s also more “productive” because I’m not just blowing the lunch hours. If you’re an elder or senior minister, encourage people to do this.
Eat together, eat with others, but rarely eat alone.