It's Not About Us

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

February 19, 2020

Leadership Notes

My church consultant friend Thom Rainer is at it again. His latest post is "Seven Differences Between Your Church And A Cafeteria." One of the things I learn from these commentaries is an appreciation that, for the most part, these kinds of things are not our struggle here at Covenant Church.

I remember, when we moved to Tecumseh in 1991, there was a restaurant downtown {where JR's now stands} called Don's Beef Buffet. Our boys loved going there. It served cafeteria style. They got to pick-and-choose what they wanted.

As Rainer points out, the cafeteria is a simple concept. If you paid your money, you could choose whatever you wanted. It was all about your preferences; your likes and dislikes. For some people {and some churches create this kind of expectation}, the church is like a cafeteria. I am the customer, and my preferences are really important.

Here are some huge differences between a church and a cafeteria:

* In a cafeteria, you pay for your preferences. In a church, giving is a joyful response to what God has done for you in Jesus Christ, without expecting anything in return. I thank God every day that that's the mindset of Covenant Church.

* In a cafeteria, the focus is on you…what you like and don't like. As we remind ourselves here at Covenant Church, the focus is on God, others, and then self. If you ever hear anyone say, "I'm not getting fed in my church," that just might be the cafeteria mindset talking!

* Cafeterias are kind of like the old Burger King slogan - "Have it Your Way." A church is different - the needs of others are considered before one's own needs.

* This next one is a real challenge for me. In a cafeteria, the business needs to keep things appealing and attractive for you to return. Sometimes, as we plan worship, I worry about that. If a Sunday feels like a particular clunker {in my mind}, people won't come back. One family once told me, "The new church we're going to is a fun church." Yikes. In fact, I think the need to keep things appealing and attractive is what drives some types of people to be church hoppers. If you're not a regular worshiper, have you ever asked yourself why?

* What happens in a business if the customer doesn't get his or her way? They complain. They talk to the manager. The customer is always right, right? Ideally, in a church, we should be so busy serving others and serving Christ that we neither have the time nor the desire to whine or complain. It's never a good thing to hear, "People are saying…"

* This next one is really simple. When someone says, "Pastor, you should…" the mindset is that the pastor/staff exist to serve the needs of members.

* Finally, what do people do when they're not fully satisfied with the cafeteria experience? They complain to others in person or on social media. Our primary goal is to build others up. As I like to say, unless something is illegal, immoral, or unbiblical, let's excel at building people up!

One final word. Next week, I'll be writing about "Three Unreasonable Expectations Pastors Have of Their Churches." Self-evaluation is always good. I need to remember, the only person you can truly fix is yourself.

Be of Good Cheer,


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