Nothing beats a really good meal after a long day. And this is coming from the fat guy, so you know its true. I’ve tasted and I’ve seen many times that the Lord is good.
This past week, a few of us from my church hopped on a flight down to Dallas Texas to take in the Catalyst Conference. It was awesome, not only did I get to be in one of the states that I secretly want to live in and play high school football one day (there’s still a chance), but to sit in a room full of pastors, preachers, worship leaders and lay ministers hearing great truths from great heroes of the faith. There is nothing better.
On our last full day in Dallas, we decided to head downtown and get one last really good meal in. It was awesome, eating mexican, drinking some cerveza’s, great conversation and watching some playoff basketball where the home team won. Amazing.
On our way home, craving something sweet, we popped into a McDonalds for an ice cream cone. I get to the till, and this sweet girl behind takes my order. “One cone please” I said. She responded as every employee would, “Is that everything?” Now, most days I’m less quick on my feet, but that day was an exemption. I quickly said in a condensing yet playful tone, “Oh, I get it, you see the fat man walk in and want to up sell him. You saw me walking in and were rubbing your hands together thinking, ‘we’re gonna make money tonight!'” We all had a good laugh, and hopefully made Nancy’s night.
However, the more I thought about the conference we just took in, the great meal we had and the moment we made getting ice cream, I found myself as I usually do, in a place of “huh!?”
Truth is, when we walked into McD’s we weren’t hungry. And what we were eating for wasn’t overall healthy for us, and the satisfaction it brought didn’t last.
I began to translate this moment toward my own spiritual hunger and the way that I feed it.
So often we hold the church up to be our main course, if not our only meal for the week. For some, we sign ourselves up to program after program, gorging ourselves on religion, maybe showing up to church a few nights through the week out of habit or obligation over hunger. Others, take in a quick bite on a Sunday morning here and there because they know they have to eat sometime.
The problem that I see is how through this, the church has become a buffet, feeding those who really aren’t that hungry. We find ourselves, living in a mode of staying at a comfortable “full”, which in the end makes us spiritually fat and lazy, never having to exercise and work out our faith.
We have forgotten what it feels like to be hungry, to have a need and a longing for spiritual food.
Now, I’m not saying that as believers we should spend less time at church. Rather, what if we learnt how to build our spiritual hunger and would seek out the opportunities to flex our faith. Freeing up the church to seek out the spiritually starved.
Last year, when I was in California, I spent a few days a month fasting. Now, I don’t know about you, but I hate fasting. At first I cheated all the time, saying “God I’ll give you the big meals, but what’s one cookie hurt” After a while however, I did get better at it. However, that first meal, whatever it was, after a 24-48 hour fast, regardless what it was, tasted like the Iron Chef himself made it especially for me.
Imagine then how amazing hope sounds to the utterly hopeless. How great the extravagant love of Christ washes over those who have been abused and abandoned. How tangibly delicious the grace of God lands on the heart that has been riddled with shame and guilt.
This is the mission of the church. To feed the starving, to bring hope, love, grace and joy to those who are in desperate need of an amazing meal.
I believe there are many churches out there that need to close the doors to the buffet, that are feeding the fed. And rather build fridges for those to come in, swing wide the doors and taste and see that the Lord is good. He’s so good.
At Connect, we don’t run programs. We don’t have mid-week gatherings. We know that the majority of the people who call Connect home are people who are seeking out where faith fits in their lives, they are people who are on their journey, they are people who have been so beaten and abandoned by previous church/religious experiences. We are a church of broken, yet beautiful people. And we know there are great needs, but we want those needs to rise up and make themselves known. And allow us to come alongside and journey with them. We value the need and the hunger because it drives the passion and the joy.
There is a reason why cemeteries are so clean, groomed and organized. Its because there is no life there to mess it up.
Lets become more comfortable with our messes and lets all enjoy the feast together.
Would love to hear your thoughts below!