One of the best ministry tools I’ve ever had was a barbecue grill. The church my brother-in-law started and I helped to establish was always having barbecue get-togethers. Often we had our barbecues whenever we had some baptisms, and as it was our custom to always baptize people as soon after their decision to follow Christ as possible, there was a time when we were having as many as two barbecues a month. We would gather at someone’s home, each member bringing a kilo or so of meat, and start firing up the grill. As it was warming up, we would gather around a kiddie pool for the baptism(s). After a hymn, a few brief words and the baptism(s), we would gather out back and chat while the meat grilled.
Brazilian barbecues are not the sad affair we find at American barbecues, consisting mostly of hamburger and hot dogs. Brazilians bring real meat, from beef to pork to chicken. Generally rice is made as well, along with a sort of vegetable dressing. As Christians we didn’t drink alcohol (not that it is immoral, but because some might actually get drunk and because it makes a bad impression), but there was always plenty of soda to go around.
In Brazil it was easy to get people together for this sort of thing. Here in New Jersey we find the situation a bit more complicated, even where Brazilian immigrants are concerned. Schedule conflicts and the general rat race keep us apart, and makes us reluctant to spend our “down time” on anything other than relaxing as a family. There is also the problem that in Uberlândia, many homes have a decent back courtyard to host a group of people, whereas in eastern New Jersey this is a bit harder to find.
Still, my wife has been saying for over a month now that she plans to buy a grill soon, and we hope that sometime in the months ahead we can host a gathering or two here in the yard next to our house. We can invite the church over, encouraging everyone to bring a friend or two and some meat for the grill, and have a brief devotional while the meat is grilling. We’ll have to work out the kinks in our plan, since I know things won’t quite flow as they did in Brazil, but we hope this can be a way to build up our sense of community, and invite people to join in the journey.