I recently enjoyed lunch at one of Blue Ridge’s 5 Star restaurants. Something one of my lunch mates said about the restaurant gave me pause. The gist of her comment was this. Each time she goes there, the experience provides her with something different, a de- lightful new twist on the food. I agreed. This
particular restaurant works hard to make each dining experience beyond the ordinary. It is a bit of a food adven-
This dining outcome doesn’t just happen. The owners and staff
have been very intentional to make this part and parcel of the din- ing experience which will bring customers back. It involves inten- tionality and imagination. It calls for attention not only to the large pictureof dining,butalsoattentiontosmallestdetail.
I remarked to my lunch mates that what this restaurant is to the restaurant business, is what I believe is needed in the Church. It is what I strive for in my preaching and it is what I expect of our church staff. It is what we strive for in our programming.
There are tons of churches out there who open up generic cans of the same old thing every week. My hope is that each time someone comes to worship, it will not be an ordinary experience. I hope that once they’ve been here, what they taste will make themsay,“Wow!Therewassomethingdifferentand unexpected there today. I can hardly wait to go back and see what is going to happen next time.”
Now this doesn’t mean that we want to open up a circus with clowns and pony tricks. There are plenty of those churches out there too. But it means we offer something genuine, something authentically transparent and playful in a way that says, we have- n’t fallen into a rote formula, even if we do follow an order. There is something unpredictable here. God’s Spirit is still free to sur- prise us in some unexpected ways.
In this congregation that starts in the parking lot and at the door. When you bring that thinking with you, it spreads to others. When you look for ways you can practice this with each person you encounter, it transforms everything.
Recently, in visiting with newcomers to our worship services I received a report on why they have come back and why they will join our church. It was about you, the members of BRUMC. They felt it immediately upon walking into the Sanctuary. There is just that something they didn’t quite expect that tasted so good. They said, “Wow! We can’t wait to go back next week.”
Being warm and caring needs intentionality. It requires humil- ity and prayer. It requires courage and a willingness to take risks for God’s glory and for the benefit of others. And for the congrega- tion who makes it our mission, it will bring people back time and time again.
Rev. Doug Burrell