Real Church. Real Life. Real Celebration.

images-6Hell’s Kitchen is currently airing its latest season.  In this show, renowned chef Gordon Ramsey is looking for a head chef for his new restaurant.  On the show, chefs from many backgrounds compete to win the job.   Ramsey is an exacting chef and is constantly berating the contestants and demanding excellence from them.

After watching a few episodes of this show, I had a scary realization; “hell” has higher expectations than the church.  In “hell,” your best isn’t always good enough.  In “hell” you must know how to communicate and work as a team.

In contrast, “Heaven’s Café” seems happy to just accept what people are willing to give.  In “Heaven’s Café,” if the chef can cook then that should be good enough.  In “Heaven’s Café,” if we are feeding half the people then we’re considered a top-notch drive-in.

Every Sunday around this community churches attempt to serve the people in attendance.  Yet, there are many who leave unfed or hungry for more.  I don’t say this out of spite; I’ve served up what feels like “cold leftovers” before.  However, I’ve found out that there is a better way.  Here are three things that sour most church services.

First, is the One-Man Show.  If it only takes a single cook to serve the food in your kitchen, you aren’t a restaurant you are a hot dog stand.  Don’t get me wrong; I love a good dog from time to time, but it’s certainly not healthy to live on and definitely not something I want every meal.  Besides, I don’t think God is usually serving up a hotdog at His table.  “Heaven’s Café” has a head chef, but it takes much more than just a chef to ensure good service.  It shouldn’t be up to your “head chef” to have to visit every sick person or to kiss every baby.  The “head chef” should work on the menu and develop the other chefs. It’s up to those other chefs (along with the waiters and waitresses) to be sure that all the customers get fed.  When the head chef is allowed to do his job, the entire service gets better. Before long, your café is growing by leaps and bounds into a five star restaurant!

The second challenge that many churches face is “throwing something together” in the kitchen.  Remember, God can only multiply what you give Him, and if you give Him a two-cent service, He doesn’t have much to work with.  I’m sorry, but Ol’ Sister Susie and her off-key, unrehearsed, “please pray for me” special is not the best tool to give God to work with.  “Hell” wouldn’t hesitate to throw her out of the Kitchen!  In “Heaven’s Café,” the best response is not to kick Susie out, but to find a better place for her (which probably isn’t behind a microphone!).  This concept of excellence is not just for the main service. It means children and youth teachers should actually prepare for their classes, greeters should develop people skills, and church leaders should be looking for even better ways to lead their teams.  Serving for God isn’t just a volunteer job; it is a God-given assignment and is just as important as your daily job.  Paul tells Timothy, “study to show thyself approved.” The same should apply to us!

The final problem that “Heaven’s Café” seems to have is outdated menus.  I am concerned that the church has become irrelevant to the world around it.  People around us are hurting from abuse, divorce, and addiction, and we are preaching messages about the rapture and what the “seven seals” mean. We are serving food that our congregation doesn’t actually need to live victoriously on this earth.  We need to serve them food that really nurtures them and develops them into healthy believers.  Let’s stop talking about how bad things are in the world and start serving people what they need to change the world that is around them.

Let’s change the perception that the church is a third rate hotdog stand and begin to serve exciting food with excellent service.  Let’s not be outdone by “hell’s kitchen” and instead set the standard as Heaven’s Five Star Restaurant!

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