With the nominal date for 2015’s Longest Lutheran Lunch (Sunday, 1 November) creeping ever closer, coordinator Andrea Cross is taking to social media to spread the word. So, if your congregation, youth group or school’s Facebook page has the word ‘Lutheran’ in it, or is connected to a page that does, be prepared to see an invitation to (Longest Lutheran) lunch popping up shortly.
Andrea has established a page at Facebook.com/lllunch and Twitter account @LutheranLunch to help Australians and New Zealanders get the word out that the Lutheran Church is alive and ready to welcome people who might be feeling lonely or disconnected, or looking for a way to come home and experience the grace of God again—in the church where they grew up, or in one in a new place.
Andrea understands the value of social media in this inter-connected world (social media is a vital tool for her marketing and public relations business), and she knows that the demographic group most likely to connect on Facebook—people aged between 30 and 50 years—are the same people most likely to be estranged from the church family they grew up in. She plans to use Facebook to welcome these people long before they set foot anywhere near a Longest Lutheran Lunch event.
‘It’s about building relationships, establishing connections; this work doesn’t happen overnight’, Andrea says. ‘All I’m asking is that people have a look at our Facebook page, click to like it and share it with their family members or with friends who might have been in confirmation with them, but have fallen away for whatever reason.
‘Even if your own congregation isn’t holding a lunch, let your family or friends know about this so that if another congregation close to them is hosting an event, they know they will be welcomed there too. It could become a great “excuse” for them to reconnect with their own home church.
‘We may never know what impact our actions have in the lives of other people. We won’t necessarily know what it is that the Holy Spirit can use to help them answer the call to come back. But he will use it’, she says.
Andrea is keen to remind congregations that Longest Lutheran Lunches don’t need three months planning or to be held exactly on the same date: ‘What matters is inviting people to join you at a time and in a way that works for your congregation. Two weeks’ notice to register and be sent a Longest Lutheran Lunch tea towel to dry your dishes is all I need! Obviously, registering earlier than that would be helpful for me.
‘If everyone involved within your congregation invites ten people to like our Facebook page, our reach to people grows this virtual community and significantly impacts our database of contacts’, she says. ‘And, if you think you’re too old for Facebook but you have grandchildren—well, there’s an opportunity right there for some cross-generational invitations and discussions!’