Chain restaurants do not become chains by having bad food. Actually if you took the sign down off Olive Garden and hired a 67 year old Italian couple to welcome the guest as they came in, you’d probably say, “We have the most wonderful little family Italian place.”
The problem with chains is that if they don’t have a button on the cash register for it, they can’t make it.
I went to a fast food place that has branches all over the world. I asked them for some chili cheese fries. They said that they didn’t have chili cheese fries. I explained that I could see all three of these ingredients from where I was standing and with a long enough ladle I could make them myself. “I mean, we have chili, cheese, and fries but we don’t have a way to charge you for them,” the guy said.
My favorite ice cream place is locally owned. I love Golly G’s for many reasons. I believe I already mentioned the ice cream. Their cinnamon rolls the size of my head are pretty cool too. The people there are awesome. But the greatest thing about the people there is that they are allowed to use their brains to serve me.
They are more than willing to venture off the menu to make you something you like. They have this grape soda there. One day I asked them if I could have one of those soda’s mixed into a shake to make me a purple cow. Thomas said, “Hmm, sounds good. I’ve never tried it, but we’ll give it a shot.”
I have no doubt I could ask for a sugar cone filled with chocolate turned upside down with a scoop of ice cream spiked on top of it and in no time I’d be eating a “Snow-capped Lookout Mountain.” (I am really good at naming things.)
I’m pretty sure there is no Purple Cow button on the cash register. I’m positive there is no Snow-capped Lookout Mountain button. And yet they figured out a way to type in the concoction in the cash register. Sometimes when you make up a new item they might wildly undercharge you for it the first few times. Sometimes you may pay a little more for some of these creations. It can get a little messy. That’s what I love about it.
That’s the way I want my church to be. We live in a world of broken people. These broken folks visit our churches. When they do, it is tempting to say, “I wish we could help you, but we don’t have a button for y’all. Your past is just so yucky, or we’ve never dealt with a child with that need.”
To which these folks reply, “I’ve heard you say the gospel is the answer. I can see it right there. You have it. Just give it to me.” But because this ministry can be messy, we just kind of keep our distance until “the problem” goes away, literally.
Not a single person is expendable. Not one. Listen, I know that saying, “Just rub a little gospel on every difficult situation and you’ll be good” is an oversimplification. But I do know this, I want to do all I can to meet the deep needs of the people I come into contact with, even if it means getting a little messy in the process. We are far from perfect, but I’m so thankful I work for a church that allows that kind of ministry and especially for great folks who are willing to dig in and do the work.
Golly G’s is opening its second location soon. I can’t wait to go in and ask for a Purple Cow. Joey, if they tell me they don’t have a button for it I may go all “money changers in the temple” crazy in that place!
By the way, Courtney and Kamryn whipped me up a Snowcapped Lookout Mountain and it was incredible.