One of the great parts of being friends with like, eighty million clergy, is that every once in a while, a great article, blog post or conversation gets shared with me. This is one that’s actually kept me up thinking at night, in a very good way. In lieu of a regular postcard, I present to you an excerpt from “The Church isn’t a Restaurant. It’s Culinary School” by Matthew Marino:
Think about what happens at a restaurant:
-You choose one you like
-You drive to it
-Someone seats you
-You order what you are in the mood for
-Then you eat the meal and sit in judgment on it: “I like this”, “I don’t like that.”
A restaurant is a narcissistic, preference-driven experience. Which is fine for a restaurant, but it is a certain kind of soul death when I view the church that way…When we use the church as a restaurant, and sit back waiting for someone to serve us we will either go home hungry or huge.
But what if we changed our perspective? What if we saw the church less like a restaurant and more like culinary school.
While a restaurant is a place of preference that exists to meet MY desires. Culinary school is a place of perseverance where one comes to be equipped to feed OTHERS. Culinary school is something you invest your time, talent and treasure in because you have a sense of calling.
In Ephesians four, Paul describes us as “baptized into one body,” “living lives worthy of our calling,” “in the unity of the Spirit” and THEN Paul portrays God as giving gifts “to equip the saints” to change the world …in the case of culinary school, through tasty, nourishing, healthy, well-prepared, well-presented food.
The Church does not exist to feed us. It exists to equip us.
The “church,” “ecclesia” in Greek, literally “the called out ones” have been “called out” specifically to be equipped through Word, Sacrament and discipline to return to the world and call others to the banquet table of God’s great love feast.
Think about the joy that happens over a table in a great little neighborhood bistro: Joy is made possible in culinary school. Culinary school is the place where:
-You sell your stuff, pay big tuition dollars, and move into a bad apartment, all because you are committed to a goal
-You get a set of tools – really good ones!
-You learn a new set of skills
-You are in a community of people with a vision
-It is also a place where there is tremendous conflict as you learn your craft…but a place with support and encouragement and accountability also
-They set you in front of a dangerous stove and let you play with the knobs, and try mixing stuff up and seeing how it tastes and hope you don’t blow the place up while you learn.
All so your class can go out into the world with a vision for places where people will be fed and cared for and real community built.
That, friends, I would suggest to you, is what the church is supposed to be:
-Those “called out”
-Equipped with tools and knowledge
-Allowed to practice
-Giving grace to one-another, with support and encouragement provided
-A community where conflict is expected and forgiveness extended
-A community where we are playing with dangerous tools: the Keys to the Kingdom of God
-A community with a mission to change the world.
That is why the church asks people to spend valuable time seeking God, give 10% of their money, and serve others…because Jesus and his kingdom is just so important. We are all busy. But we find time to do what we want to do. What if we fell so in love with Jesus and his call on our lives that we make HIM our priority, and the culinary school that is the Church the place where we are equipped?
In the Christian life one is only truly blessed when they are in the community of faith, giving themselves to that community and giving themselves and the Gospel message away to create a different world…
You can read the whole article here: (http://thegospelside.com/2013/09/30/the-church-isnt-a-restaurant-its-culinary-school/)
See you all Sunday! Shalom y’all!