It was half term last week, which occasionally for us, means decorating.  Being handed a tube of ‘All Purpose Filler’ and a tile adhesive spreader, I set about my usual job – filling the gaps.  At various times over the past 20 years, this job has fallen to me. As someone who likes decorating cakes, I am considered to be the most skilled out of the two of us!  But this time, I was grumpy because I’d been handed sub-standard equipment!  The ‘All Purpose Filler’ was not my preferred brand.  The tile adhesive spreader, well, it was for spreading tile adhesive, not Polyfilla!

Huffing and puffing, I set about sealing the cracks around the doorframe and plugging picture hook holes with this inferior equipment!  As I did a poor job, I thought about other walls, other houses, other seasons of life when I’d been armed with this sort of stuff.  Memories came back to me as I sanded down the shoddy filler jobs I’d done in this house ten years earlier.  I also thought about how hard it is to get the best results with very mediocre or inappropriate equipment.

How often do we feel these kinds of frustrations when it comes to connecting with our friends on a deeper level and reaching our communities for Jesus?  Are there events and activities you used to be involved with which have now been stopped, come to a natural end, or been part of a different season of life?  Do you see this as a reason why you can’t get anywhere with friendship evangelism at the moment?  It’s as if you still have the skills but the equipment isn’t up to scratch. Maybe there used to be a women’s Christmas meal at your church, but that no longer happens, so you don’t know how to channel your desire to gather together with friends from your workplace and church.

Well, as I had to do with the tile adhesive spreader, maybe we need to give ourselves a bit of a talking to.  I could have gone out and bought a metal spreader and some Polyfilla beforehand but I didn’t. So I had to make the best of the budget buys or repurposed items my husband reaches for.  And you know what? The tile adhesive spreader was great at getting a right angle around the door frame.  We’ve got to use what we can lay our hands on and just get on with the job.

So if there isn’t a Christmas meal at church this year, how about texting out a few friends and booking a table at the local pub or restaurant?  It’s better to do something than bemoan the fact there is nothing on.  Maybe you’re the one to start a new event, but if that’s not possible, prepare for a no-prep option.

As you start thinking about Christmas, the decorations box will trigger memories of past Christmas triumphs – the year the turkey was outstanding, the year you chose the perfect tree, the year it snowed.  You may feel you don’t have the right equipment or resources to pull off another victory like that.  Like me, you may feel a little vain – ‘I don’t want people judging my results when I have been handed sub-standard tools this year’. I hope we can swallow our pride and find a way to make it work anyway.

So, for those of you who don’t currently have a toddler group to serve in, a women’s ministry to invest in, a youth group to drive your kids to or a craft group to connect with, we want to remind you of ways in which you can achieve great results anyway.  And the even better news?  We specialise in ‘no-prep’ preparations for get-togethers that will leave you energised rather than exhausted.  Watch this space over the next couple of weeks and we’ll share our ideas from Christmasses past and present.  As Craig Groeschel explained in a recent talk, we need to start thinking ‘inside the box’ – finding manageable, easier solutions using the time and resources we already have.

We’re hoping this will inspire you to reach for the tools you have, however disappointing they may seem at first.  (And then, we promise, we’ll stop going on about Christmas until the week before.)

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