Bill Shakespeare had it all wrong. “To be or not to be” is irrelevant. “Hash browns or Grits?”… now that is the question.
And the answer is hash browns - smothered, covered, diced, and peppered. The next time you find yourself eating at a Waffle House, you better believe you’re going to be asked this question and you sure as fire better be ready to give an answer.
If you’ve never been to a Waffle House – first of all - I’m sorry. Not only do they have an automatic batter dispenser over the stove (which already makes it a winner in my book), but they set the bar in terms of good, down-home breakfast food and southern hospitality.
Most of us have a predisposed set of images that come to mind when hearing the word “church” (a steeple, a worship team, a Pastor, Sunday School, etc.). However, as I was listening to stories from my waitress while I chowed down on a salty piece of ham, this thought crossed my mind: “What if we thought of church the way we think about Waffle House?” I know it’s a bit of a stretch, but indulge me…
The fake locks
During one of our waitress’ many trips to come check on me and my wife, she informed us that the locks on the door are really just there for looks – that they don’t actually function. Since Waffle House is open 24/7, there’s never a need to cut off the “open” sign.
Now I’m not about to suggest that your church should never lock the doors, or that your Pastor should sleep at the church. What I am saying is that we, the people who make up the church, should be the church all week-long. Our love and grace should extend day-in/day-out in a way that we don’t have to flip the Jesus sign back on come Sunday. (Acts 2:42-47)
Obviously, Waffle House’s hospitality would mean nothing if they didn’t have good food. Their unpretentious menu offers food that will bring you back to mamma’s kitchen, and at least a dozen plates that feature bacon… and bacon is good.
Psalm 34:9 – “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” The Church is intended to be a place where people take refuge, a place that leaves people with the imprint of Good News all over their lives. When someone spends time away from their church, there should be a craving to come back for more.
Good ole southern hospitality
I don’t know why it is, but something about the phrase, “can I refill your coffee?” means so much more when it’s said with a southern accent. Whether you think it’s legit or just an old wives tale – I happen to hold to the belief that no one knows how to make a complete stranger feel welcomed better than a southern waitress.
Jesus was great at this – in Scripture, we get to see him associating with “untouchables,” eating with tax collectors, and getting down on people’s level (Matt. 11:19). What an awesome challenge this is to the church – to welcome in people of all walks of life, no matter background or appearance, instead of worrying how our membership will be affected by who we allow in.
So what do you take away from this? Should you swear off IHOP altogether, and add “eating a triple hash browns all-the-way” from Waffle House to your bucket list? Absolutely. But I’d also hope that maybe, just maybe, the next time you bite into the sweet doughy goodness of a freshly made waffle, you’ll remember your calling to help the Church feel a little more like home.
What are some of the ways in which you make your local church feel “like home”?