Sumner Redcliffs Anglican Church

The World's Worst Lunch Experience

A story about the time Aimee and I had the world’s worst lunch which continues to be one of the most positive experiences we’ve ever had in church.

Aimee and I were married on Thursday 5 Jan 2012.

We got married on the Thursday because we got the church cheap + it was the only date our mates doing the photography could do.

The day was epic (ever wish you could re-live something for the first time it was so good?).

Afterwards we had a brief honeymoon for about 5 days before packing our belongings into the back of the Silver Bullet (a hatch-back Toyota Starlet with an overdrive mode, what a beast) and heading on up to Auckland to my theological college.

It's a bit of a long story (and frankly a bit boring) but suffice to say we didn't get off on to the best start in Auckland.

For one thing, we were placed into a large evangelical church for my Sunday placement. After we'd been there 6 months we still hadn't made any friends and felt completely disconnected with the congregation.

One Sunday we bumped into a pastor on staff along with his wife. We made small talk and (in a moment of desperate honesty) we shared how isolated and lonely we were. His wife promptly said "we should have you around!" To which Aimee replied, "oh that's be awesome! When suits?"

And I'll never forget what happened next.

The pastor took me aside and quietly said, "we weren't being serious, we don't really have time for that."

Then he stepped back and said loudly, "we'll need to do that lunch sometime soon!," before wandering off to engage with some university students by the coffee cart.

We were gutted.

The next week we were placed into a different church for a new placement. This church is called St George's Anglican Church, Epsom.

We arrived and were warmly welcomed at the door.

We found a seat and a series of people walking past stopped, asked if were visiting, and welcomed us.

Then, at the end of the service, as we were leaving a woman wandered over and introduced herself. She was Kim and her husband, Josh, was one of the clergy on staff. Within 2 minutes (apparently that's all it took to make sure we weren't crazy she later told us) Kim and Josh had invited us to lunch at their place.

The only problem was that they had no food.

And the shops were shut.

So we ended up feasting on half a cooked frozen crumbed fish, a spoonful of peas, and splash of white wine each.

Not exactly the most bountiful feast! And yet, you know what? To this day it remains one of the most positive and enriching experiences we've ever had in a church.

And what we learnt from this is that hospitality is incredibly transformational (it changed our lives for the better). Hospitality is also fun. We laughed so much we nearly cried. And hospitality is also immensely countercultural.

In our Cantab society where our house is our castle, to let down the drawbridge and invite others in. To offer them genuine hospitality and friendship, even when the fridge is bare, to do so is so countercultural.

So I want to invite you to consider being a part of what I'm calling the ‘Manaakitanga Project.’

My dream is to have 8 households signed up to each host lunch once every 2 months for visitors, newcomers, waifs and strays, and everyone in-between.

By offering manaakitanga (hospitality and generosity) to others we have an opportunity to welcome others in the same way Jesus welcomes us.

If this is something you’re keen to help with, or if you've got a question, drop me a line at

Anyway, that’s enough from me! I really do hope you’ll join me in working together to see lives in our community transformed through the good news of Jesus.