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Fresh recipes and resources for laity

Fresh ingredients for recipes

Conference Lay Leader Annette Erbes finds home delivery meal kits and recipes offer important lessons for ministry during the time of pandemic.


ANNETTE ERBES

Lay Leader, Michigan Conference

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes, and see— how good God is.  Blessed are you who run to him. ~ (Psalm 34:8 The Message)

The box arrived on our doorstep on a Tuesday afternoon much sooner than expected, insulated with thick cardboard inserts and many frozen packets, with a tempting hazelnut cookie treat at the top. Three meals ready to cook! Recipes and fresh ingredients included with no need for shopping or grocery delivery. Kind of amazing!

Have you tried any of these new home delivery meal kits? After a busy week of cooking for visiting family members, I was tempted to give this a try when I saw an alluring savings offer. Friends had tried similar meal kits with much satisfaction and success. It seemed worth a try to provide new recipes along with a break from pandemic stress-induced trips to the grocery store. Truffled mushroom flatbreads, balsamic fig chicken, and smothered mushroom chicken for dinner. What could be better?

After trying the meals, the results were quite impressive. The entrees we sampled were delicious and easily prepared with very fresh ingredients, as promised. The recipes were clearly written and easily followed with step by step directions and instructive illustrations. The meal kits provided a healthy new dinner experience and needed a break during a time of eating all our meals at home. All things considered, a good experiment with something new.

During this pandemic time, what have you tried that was new? What fresh ideas have you experienced? Zoom meetings with the break-out rooms? Telehealth appointments? Online worship via Facebook Live? Google Classroom? Drive-thru communion? Outdoor handbell practice? Tik Tok dances?    

As I have recently begun wearing the “hat” of Conference Lay Leader, I’ve been looking into opportunities for continuing education and ministry learnings. Again, learning from the experiences and suggestions of friends and alluring offers, I have started to sample fresh ideas while learning about “new recipes” for ministry.

Have you heard of Fresh Expressions? This has recently come to my attention, due to the 2020 Leadership Academy webinars offered in August. The webinar entitled Shape Something New with Michael Beck was filled with great recipes for new opportunities to share “a form of church for our changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church.” I urge you to check out this and the other webinars from the Leadership Academy, which can be found on the michiganumc.org website.  

Another helpful resource for new ministry recipes can be found on the conference website under Toolbox Resources. I must confess that although I had visited the michiganumc.org website often enough, until this summer, I had never really examined the numerous Toolboxes  on the Resources page. There are “recipes” for Lay Leadership, Cultural Vibrancy, Communications, Revitalization, Children’s Ministry, Community Engagement, and much more. Our conference staff has diligently prepared helpful instructions to feed our congregations with new insights for ministry. Reading over some “new recipes” on the website will be time well spent searching for a new “meal kit” to nourish both congregation and community.

So, what was the end result of trying the meal kits? First, I admit I am not much of a chef. I do enjoy baking, but my meal prep methods include following a recipe. I am not a skilled chef who can add a little dash of this and a little taste of that and meet with a scrumptious concoction. Although the instructions in the provided meal kits were quite clear, the recipes we tried were ones where everything happened at once, making for a rather frantic last 30 minutes of meal preparation.

The other consideration was that once those alluring savings offers wore off, each meal cost was rather pricey. We did enjoy the new cooking experience and will use the recipes and meal kit plans according to our time, schedule needs, and budget moving forward. The kitchen lesson learned in this instance for us is the addition of new, tasty recipes to our cooking repertoire and a new way to simplify our grocery shopping when the situation and budget allows.

As I search the Toolbox Resources and consider new ministry recipes and opportunities, I am reminded to adapt each offering to my congregation and community’s unique situation. Try something new. Sample a new entrée. See what recipe best suits your community. Add some different ingredients according to your tastes. Ministry colleagues have submitted their best tried and true “recipes” for ministry just for our use.  Go ahead … the toolbox is right at your doorstep! See how you might invite others to the table. Try something fresh and new!