Changing how we think about church morning tea

Changing how we think about church morning tea

Morning tea after church is a tradition in most churches, at least morning services. There is something great about the concept, and not just because I love a good cup of coffee. It reflects the reality that the church is not all about the formal service. The church is the people. The informal gathering after the formal one gives the opportunity for those who are at church to welcome and greet one another and to build one another up.

It is not always a happy time for everyone though. I have experienced this myself when visiting other churches. Maybe you know how it feels. You finish being part of the service, you line up for your coffee and biscuit, and then you just stand there. Particularly in a church family that you don’t know well, it is possible to be all alone in a large group of people. In a church I visited in the UK some years back, I hung around with my coffee looking at the bookstall and wandering around for half an hour with no-one greeting me. It is a hollow feeling.

Why is it that people, especially newcomers or quiet people, get missed at morning tea? It is not because church people are callous and cruel. It is because so many at church don’t think about morning tea as an opportunity to serve other people. They see it as the time to catch up with friends. If everyone sees morning tea time like this, regular attenders will be greeted and welcomed, and newcomers will be ignored.

Church is where we are to build one another up. It is where we come to serve, not to be served. Christians need to see the church service as an opportunity to be an encouragement to other people and to be intentional about this. If we are not, we fall into being consumers. We start to just measure church services by how much we personally benefit. The sermon is only good if it deals with our current pressing needs, the morning tea is only good if we talk to our close friends, and unless others encourage us, we are disappointed.

Let’s turn that around. Pray before you come to church next time there is a service. Ask that God will give you opportunities to build others up. Come expecting to serve and welcome and encourage. And God will give you those opportunities.

How does that impact how you act at morning tea? It means that you are intentional about it. Stay off to the side and look at see if there is anyone new, or anyone no-one is speaking to. Just walk over and say hello. You can meet your friends anytime. God has brought this new person along today. Your conversation might make someone feel welcome in a new city, be an important step towards someone coming to know Jesus, or just a way to build up another believer.

The way we approach church morning tea reveals a lot about our hearts. Use this opportunity to serve and bless others.