Bake your church some good

Some welsh cakes I made
Some welsh cakes I made - image (c) Ryan Cartwright CC:By-SA

Could something as small as a cake make a difference to your church?

> Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Gal 6:9-10 NIV

At the weekend just passed and in honour of St David’s day I baked some welshcakes for our church. Baking cakes for church is something my wife (mostly) and I (occasionally) started doing on a weekly basis during Lent 2011. It was part of an attempt to revive the coffee time that happens after the main church service on a Sunday and inspired by what became the Give up bad coffee for lent campaign. I posted a photo of the welshcakes and
it seems this inspired others to make some to take to their church.

Growing up in church in the (ahem) 1970s I recall that homemade cakes were often a feature of the refreshments/social bit after the service. I’ve visited many different churches over the years and have noticed that in the past ten years the cakes have disappaeared. Usually replaced by a tin (or even paper plate) of biscuits which may or may not have some rubbery ones at the bottom. There’s nothing wrong with biscuits but I’d like to encourage you to think about making (or even buying) a cake to take to church. Why not do it for lent? I wonder if cakes were dropped in an attempt to move away from the twee image the church has acquired, images of a victoria sponge with green teapcups spring to mind. There’s nothing wrong with moving with the times – indeed the GUBC4L campaign is to encourage churches to do that by serving decent fresh coffee – but don’t overlook the power of a cake in generating some coversation and fellowship.

As an example I’ll mention that the refreshments time at our church was generally well attended by about half the people there. They’d stay for a drink and then drift home afterwards. Once we introduced fresh coffee and then cakes, more people stayed and stayed for longer, conversations continued and spread. Fellowship happened. I’ll be honest I did not expect that making fresh coffee and baking a cake would have this effect and it would be wrong of me to say it was all down to that. Much of the credit should go to the people at our church who start and have the converations and when we started baking the cakes it was mostly because we just thought people like some cake with their coffee – which it seems they do (who knew?). People are definitely the key here but sometimes we need a bit of a nudge to just tip the balance between dashing home and staying a few minutes longer for a chat. Fresh coffee and cakes are good at that bit.

> Sometimes we need a bit of a nudge to just tip the balance between dashing home and staying a few minutes longer for a chat. Fresh coffee and cakes are good at that bit

So, as part of an encouragement to show some gospel hospitality – why not bake a cake this week. It doesn’t have to be a complex one. We’ve found that tray-bakes work really well. Most people don’t want a great slab of cake but a small square of iced sponge or a choclate brownie or a welshcake always seems to go down well with a cofee (or tea). Also another tip is that cakes that can be held in one hand without falling apart and not too sloppy are better. Be aware of allergies and things but if you do have people with something like a gluten intolerance making one they can eat too is just a question of googling for a recipe. Also while we like to try different cake recipies out, I’ve noticed that nobody complains if a tray bake turn up on a regular basis.

Finally- having done this for year – I can tell you that sometimes you just don’t feel like baking, this where the scripture above comes in and don’t forget that there will be others who can make a cake as well. You don’t have to go so far as a rota (if two people make cake there’s just more to eat!) but it’s a great way for people to contribute. Also people bring cakes in on or near their birthday, sometimes leftover cake is brought in. If you can’t bake then look in the cake aisle of your supermarket. A lot of them will do generic “celebration” tray-style cakes now which are cheap and serve this purpose very well.