left arrow
October 13, 2019
March 21, 2024

Come, Sit at the Table

Slow-cooker meals are a staple in any busy family’s home, and Erin readily agrees. And she has found a way to bless other families by sharing such meals and more─from fresh salads to hearty pot roast.

A few years ago, the Lord led Erin and her husband, Greg, to move to Mueller, a neighborhood of neat houses strategically built around a sprawling park in central Austin. Erin and Greg came with a passion for neighbor outreach. “You don’t live in Mueller if you don’t like people,” Erin quips, laughing. “Here, you’re literally on top of each other.”

In their previous home, Erin longed for community. After some years of trying to talk to her neighbors, her efforts seemed futile. But while at the park one day with her youngest child, a fellow mother suddenly engaged her in conversation. Shocked, Erin could not believe it. She had finally found a friendly face, and that experience stayed with her.

After Erin gave birth to their second child, she was so grateful for the flurry of friends and family who brought meals to them. When they moved to Mueller, she found herself wondering how could she continue providing wholesome dinners for her family and also reach her neighbors in her new neighborhood. “I figured that if someone brought me a meal, I could reciprocate and bring them a meal,” she says.

Mealtime is significant to Erin and Greg. They believe in having intentional family dinners, because it creates space for meaningful conversations. “Our kids’ spiritual formation happens primarily within the four walls of our house. The dinner table is a time when we can have their undivided attention and share about God’s love.” They wondered if encouraging people to share meals would instill in other families the same conviction for intentional family dinners.

Erin asked her friends if anyone wanted to bring each other food for a week. Two friends agreed. From there the idea exploded in the neighborhood, and “Supper Wagon” grew to 40 families at its peak.

Participation in Supper Wagon was flexible, and neighbors filled out a profile with their addresses, allergies, preferred meal delivery dates, and serving numbers. Families were teamed up in groups of three, and they took turns cooking each week. When one family cooked, they would make a meal for all three families in their group and deliver it, and the receiving families felt cared for in the midst of their hectic lives.

“As more people got involved, it was this beautiful opportunity to break down barriers with neighbors and build deep community with both believers and nonbelievers,” Erin says. “We were sharing meals together and also meeting a felt need.”

Erin knew people often felt nervous about inviting strangers into their homes, because trust needed to be earned and vulnerability could be hard. Since conversations already happened on front porches during deliveries, many of the families became more comfortable with each other over time. Sometimes the family bringing food would join the receiving family for dinner, and friendships started to form. “This was the kind of vision we cast,” Erin explains. “It was this beautiful thing, too, because many families came from different ethnicities and cultures. We had Thai meals, Indian food—it was great to experience other cultures and grow in appreciation.”

The Lord was working through these families who served each other, and Erin held on to God’s faithfulness. Then one week, Erin put out the weekly invitation, or “wagon call,” for the following week, but no one responded. “For months I continued to put out the regular wagon call, with no response week after week. That was a hard pill to swallow, but I am trusting that the Lord used it and is continuing to use the relationships built through supper wagon to draw His children to Himself.”

Since then, she has been trusting that the Lord is not done with this story. Families who became friends also connected with each other spiritually. People grew in their faith and encountered Jesus. One Supper Wagon family had been close to giving up their long search for a church home, and on a recent walk with her kids, Erin saw another Supper Wagon family entering their home to share a meal together. She later learned that the search was over, and that they had found a church home because of their meal exchanges with the other family. “What started as meals exchanged through Supper Wagon became a loving friendship, and eventually spiritual needs were met through becoming part of the local church body!” she excitedly shares.

“Scripture says that we make plans, but God directs our steps,” Erin says. “We created plans to make Supper Wagon, as led by the Spirit, but God directed our steps. The meal sharing might not be happening right now, but we know that He’s not done.”

She intends to pursue the biblical command to love her neighbors in other ways. “Your neighbor is literally the person next door, but it’s also the person checking out behind you at the grocery store. God called us to make disciples. That’s the model that Christ showed and that the early church followed.” Recognizing that people tend to have relationships and live life with others who are similar, she adds, “It’s natural. But it’s biblical to really step outside of our comfort zones and build relationships with people who don’t look like us, make the same choices, or carry the same perspectives.”

Erin believes that the Holy Spirit gives people the willingness to be brave. She started Supper Wagon with a small idea and followed the Spirit’s leading. Spurred on by what she saw God do in her own neighborhood, Erin shares, “We are the most connected we ever been as a society because of social media. But statistically, people report feeling more isolated than any other time in history. What would happen if we put our devices down and simply opened our front doors to the people God physically placed closest to us?”

Article Details

Related Congregation
Related Ministry
Related Initiative
Austin Stone Creative
No items found.