Saturday, November 25, 2006

Restaurant or Cookery Show???

My mate Nuno over at Simplice(dot)net has posted a fab commentary that I wanted to reproduce here.
Recently I went to a church "service" for the first time in months. While I couldn't connect with much of what was happening there, I felt really touched by the message that was taught. But at the end of the service, I had a feeling of incompleteness. I wanted to talk about it with the others, tell them how it spoke to me and hear what it meant to them. Discuss how that could become part of our life. But there was no room for that.

In the end, I felt cheated. I used to think of church services as restaurants, but now I see most of them as cooking shows.

A restaurant is a place where you go with some friends to eat something special. You may know some other people in the restaurant, but you only share the experience with the people that are in the same table. At least you get fed.

In a cooking show, on the other hand, you see someone cook, and you can even see the result, which looks tasty and beautiful. But that's it. You can't eat it, savour it, ingest it. You can only look at it.

I prefer a restaurant rather than a cooking show. But what I really love is a community. In a community everyone cooks, shares recipes, tastes each other food. On a community you not only get fed, you are part of it.
Connect with your thoughts, Nuno... and thanks for them!

We seem to be restricted by time... church is almost like Can't Cook, Won't Cook where people bring random items of food and the celebrity chefs have a limited time to work their magic and make a great meal... or at least what looks like a great meal because we have no opportunity to sample it... no opportunity to participate... to contribute... to the mix.

Restaurants at least let you choose what you want to eat... and let you savour it... but, at the end of the day, there are those serving and those sitting back enjoying what was prepared.

Taking it one step further... Just like Nuno, I would like to see church like a communal family kitchen... where everyone is busy doing what needs done to make the meal... like the family barbecue where someone is manning the barbie... someone is preparing the salad... someone is doing the dishes... and loads of people are contributing through conversation... and laughter... and helping out as and when required. No one is a passenger... no one is a bystander or spectator.

At the end of the day... church should be about contribution. Church isn't a service but the servers... and we should all have a chance to give towards the meal... regardless how we do it.

This is where S*N*A*C is going... and this is where the Army excels at times... with testimony time and contribution through the sections... but is it enough? We need more opportunity to tell our stories... and worship as and when it feels right.

What do you think?

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Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. You expanded on my thoughts very well indeed.

I have been following your blog (and your wifes blog) daily through a feed reader, and it has been a great experience.


Anonymous said...

all I would want to know is, where would the espresso be in this church of yours.

caldjr said...

Superb thoughts. I have an article somewhere under the heading "Are you being served" and it similarly relates church to the experience of going to a restaurant. Will try and find it for you - it makes great reading too.

Jody said...

This is an issue we're dealing with at church, too. Because of time constraints and people having to live their lives after church on Sunday, there isn't a lot of opportunity to process the message or connect with others. Our pastor let me start a blog for this purpose- to allow people in our community to process and then write what touched them most, or just to praise God.
The frustrating thing is that a lot of people aren't participating. They either don't want to or are too intimidated and so they don't contribute. I'm not the only one who is frustrated by this, so i appealed to everyone throught the blog to at least share what God is showing them or WHY they don't participate in discussions. It helped but I think there are just some people who don't want to experience a faith community outside their comfort zone. Something to pray about.

Bill A said...

Interesting analogy. I think if he thinks about it a bit more, he might come to a different conclusion.

The Church is not (or should not be) just a cooking show. Watch this and then it ends. It might feel like that when the service ends. But what should be happening is the people get to take those recipes home and try them. See if they work for them. This may not be the instant gratification that was desired by the author, but it's still valid. Ideally, everyone would be getting together in small groups, or maybe in Sunday School classes, to discuss these recipes. To talk about how it works. Unfortunately, many churches have bailed on the class idea but it's an important part. It is where community is built. That might be in a small group on Wed in someone's house, it might be on Sunday morning at the church. But it is definately needed.

I hope the author finds a church were he can have community and discuss and process the things he is learning.

Anonymous said...

Whether we go to a cooking show or a restaurant it is all about us getting fed and amused. Is that really the point of church?

Where does God fit into all this?

weareallghosts said...

Good question, Carl...

For me... I see God being with His faithful followers regardless of whether they worship Him cookery show style, restaurant style or even communal barbie style. Afterall, did He not say that where two or three are gathered in His name... then He'll be there in the midst.

The key is whether or not we do what we do in HIS name.

Personally, I would prefer to see a style of church where people joined together to feed each other... and then reached out and fed others figuratively - through reaching out with the gospel - and literally - with real food for real people.

I don't go to Church to be amused but I do go to be fed... but I do NOT live on one meal a week! I keep fed with reading His word... praying... and discussing life with others.

That's where I see God in all of this. Where do you see Him?

Anonymous said...

Just to follow the current analogies, I never go to a restaurant nor a show to be challenged not uncomfortable. And that must be at least part of church.

I completely agree that there must be an aspect of community to church. But it seems that some have swung completely to that one dimensional aspect of it. I have seen it become only a community where everyone is on the path and there are no absolutes.

I go TO church to be equipped to minister. And when I minister, it is my goal to equip the saints to minister.

I love to fellowship, I love to have my needs met. But I think if more people were mindful of the ultimate fate of those who are lost, the fact that my mom didn't go to my little league games and now I am scarred from it becomes less important.

Does that make sense?

I don't want to go to a lecture and call it church (and I understand we are the church) but I don't want to only go to fellowship meetings where we never get past ourselves and onto what we are here for: Going into the world and reaching the lost.

Thanks for the conversation

Porthos said...

mfmYour mate Nuno should find a small group, Bible study, or even a Sunday School class to meet his stated desires. Chances are the church that he went to has one (if not all) of those.

The fact that Nuno had the desire for community to discuss the sermon makes the service a success, in my book.

Porthos said...

Ignore the "mfm" in my previous comment. Typo from trying to fill in the word verification. Sorry!

Jonathan Blundell said...

This is a great conversation... thanks for starting it... here's some thoughts from Nash - a guy who's always been real and true - agree with him or not, he'll tell you what he thinks...
How can I put this in a way that only Brian and Jonathan would appreciate? Hmmm…not be too forthright, but ShutUp and start cooking. I don’t mean this in as rude a way as it sounds, so hear me out for a bit. I honestly struggle with
this same frustration. To me “community” means life and family. I don’t share my feelings with my neighbors, but I
will yell and cry with my friends and family. Too many of us long for people to talk about “the service” with, or to hang out with in Christian fellowship, but we don’t take the initiative to do it. We say that the church leaves me empty
because they didn’t provide a place for me to talk out what the Spirit was showing me. Maybe its not the church?
Maybe its us leaving the Church empty because we keep waiting for the pastor to start a “cooking group” for us to
attend. How about this? Stop waiting for the church to provide a breakfast club or whatever you want to call it, and
stop 2 or 3 people and say, “Hey would you like to go to lunch and talk about what was said? I’ll buy.” I have recently learned from my pastor that when he says, “I’m looking for someone to step up and be a leader,” he means it. People
come up to him every week with ideas, and expect him to start the mission group, drama group, or sisterhood of the
fat women on soapboxes club. But, God did not impress these things on the pastor’s heart, He impressed them on ours.
God didn’t say way wait on Pastor B. then Go! He said Go! So I end with this… If you long for more missions within
your community, start doing more missions; if you long for more conversation, start talking; if you long for family,
start openning your home for others stop by and feast!! As I was growing up, my family instituted this thought…spit in
one hand and want in the other. Some friends and I wanted a church that could supply us with people we could have in
depth study, challenging conversation, and that would stretch us to uttermost of our Faith. We couldn’t find it, until
we realized that we should quit wanting and start spitting. Since then church hasn’t been a cooking show or restaurant,
but it has been an adventure. And to me that’s what The E! brings.

Peace Out and don’t eat Peppermints with coke.

Check out more at the encounter

Anonymous said...

I often view the typical church service much like a scene from the movie Big with Tom Hanks.

In a scene embedded in my mind forever I think, Tom Hanks as a kid in a grown ups body, walks into his first business meeting where a guy in a tie is trying to sell his idea on a new toy. He gives all these fancy names, graphs, definitions, statistics and so on. Tom Hanks though keeps raising his hand time and again simply saying, "I don't get it"

The reason I think this is the typical church service is much of the same of what you felt. Not that you necessarily didnt get the message, but didnt get why there was no room for discussion. I think there are a very large majority of people out there every Sunday wanting to raise their hands and say I dont get it!

Thus my thankfulness to be a part of a community known as The Living Room where discussion is vital to any growth and any teaching.


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