A few weeks back, a friend of mine riffed a blog post based off of an article I wrote for our church’s newsletter. We’ve been having this conversation on and off about what the Church should look like over the past several months (thanks to a mutual friend, Jamie Roach, who kicked it off). Long story short, the dialogue goes like this:
“What if the Church functioned more like a picnic than a restaurant? At a restaurant, everyone is waited on, isolates themselves from other patrons, and doesn’t add much to the experience other than consuming food they pay for. But at a picnic, everyone adds to the experience because everyone brings a dish to share, helps with set up and entertainment, and interacts together (rather than being in your own booth).”
Caught up yet? My article talked about an event we did (literally picnic-y with our student ministry and parents). Shawn’s post raised some great points and questions, mostly reminding us that Jesus calls us to jump into ministry and get our hands dirty. To make Church something we have ownership in, rather than something we passively receive.
Here’s what is easy about making your Church experience a restaurant kind of gig. It’s easy. You don’t have to put a lot of work into it. If you don’t like Restaurant A, drive down the road and check out Restaurant B. When someone offends you, a message rubs you the wrong way, the worship music isn’t your style, or you’re looking for something deeper…jump ship and find something new!
It’s the American way.
Look, I hate deviled eggs. I can’t stand it when my Aunt Margaret brings them to family picnics. (I love my Aunt Margaret, btw.) People snarf deviled eggs like they add value to your home; I don’t get it. And if I did eat one, I’d gag and gag and gag and gag and gag and gag.
But I still want those people who prepare and eat deviled eggs to be at the picnic!
It’s about relationships. It’s about building the Kingdom of God together. It goes beyond the church building that houses the service that 5% of the church put together for the other 95% of the people.
Confession: I love connecting to Jesus in a room with good lighting, great sound, great (current) worship songs from a tight band, with an encouraging/challenging message to spur me to follow Jesus more wholeheartedly.
But when that comes at the cost of developing real community, picnic-style, I think I’d rather be involved in something that will take more effort from everybody. Something riskier. Something that might have deviled eggs present.
What’s cool is that the kind of community I want to see happen does not automatically exclude having the kind of worship setting I crave. It just takes more community effort to make Church a picnic.
So, Shawn said he’s bringing the chocolate covered chocolate. I’ll bring the Chipotle covered Chipotle! What are YOU going to bring?!?