Once a month, our group organises a free community BBQ in one of the local parks. Anyone can come. The basic idea is to provide a space for people to connect with other locals and make friends. There’s nothing directly spiritual about it, except that we believe that relationships and community are things God cares about.
It’s also an example of generosity and grace. In the world of consumerism we live in, there’s no such thing as a free meal. So people don’t often experience something for nothing – just because it’s a good thing to do. People have sometimes tried to give us money for accepting something from these BBQs! We just give them a TEAR Gift Catalogue instead.
It’s pretty simple. We buy 40 to 50 sausages, onion, a few loaves of bread, fruit juices, cheese, and we bring sauces, cups, serviettes etc. We also have tea and coffee available (great for conversations! – people always stay and chat while they have a hot drink). We bring hot water in a thermos from home.
When we first started, we’d just find a table in the park, cook the food and invite people to join us. Nowadays we bring our own table, because the ones in this park are often being used for parties (and these are the people who we’ve had some of the best conversations with too, because they’re at the park for the whole time). We got onto VistaPrint and made a banner saying “Free Community BBQ – 1st Sunday of Every Month,” which we put up each time. And we’ve recently bought a marquee so we don’t get sunburnt, and actually we’ve found that it made people a little more comfortable to come up to us.
There are six of us who run it each time, and we’ve found it’s a bit more difficult when there are less than that – with watching kids, flipping sausages, and making teas and coffees. We try to always have a couple people free to chat, or to walk around the park and let people know about the BBQ.
There are plenty of other ways to get to know people. We just really enjoy having a BBQ in the park on a Sunday morning! And we’ve scored some great friends out of it!