my final (i promise) rant about infuriating practices undertaken by this infernal subculture we call “the church.” i’ve written about christian motorcycle clubs, church softball teams, and today…
the sunday lunch crowd.
four words that strike fear into the hearts of food service people everywhere. it’s really not fair because it’s not just us…not everybody who goes out to lunch on sunday is a church person, and some non-church people are jerks, too. most of the problems, though, can be traced directly to awful behavior by you and your friends. and me.
i don’t know what comes over us. maybe it’s because we’re dressed up (like rich people), or maybe it’s because our pastor preached too long and severe hunger has overridden our sense of decency. but when we swarm our local eateries shortly after noon on sundays, we create an instant traffic jam at the front door. and in the kitchen. and in the food prep area. and at the cash register. still, we cannot imagine why we were not seated immediately and treated with deference (after all, not twenty minutes ago our pastor reminded us that we are king’s kids…more than conquerors…overcomers…the head and not the tail…a royal priesthood). we believe that somehow our food should magically arrive when we order, if not shortly before. and even though the waiters and waitresses are obviously busy, we are offended when our water (for which there is no charge) approaches empty. when we have finished our meal, we think nothing of holding our table (usually several pushed together) hostage while we enjoy a season of fellowship with our good friends. or bad friends. it doesn’t seem to bother us that there is a line of people at the front door glaring at us, nor that the waitstaff only get paid as new parties are seated. as the only source of salt and light for our community, though, we are entitled.
worst of all, though, is that we apparently do not understand the concept of tipping. waiters/waitresses do not make minimum wage, they make far less. they are single moms and graduate students and out-of-work engineers and they are trying to feed their families. they work their butts off to give us good service in the hope that we will acknowledge their service and express our gratitude with a gratuity (“a gift of money, over and above payment due for service, as to a waiter or bellhop; tip”). I hear it over and over again (in fact, my son worked as a waiter while in college so i have first-hand information), church people are the world’s worst tippers.
like it or not, the sunday lunch crowd has done immense damage to the testimony of christ.
i don’t know if we can ever redeem our reputation (and, by association, the good name of our lord and savior jesus christ), but i have a couple of suggestions. 1.) be nice. jesus plainly says that we should rejoice when people persecute us (and i’m pretty sure that poor service and bad food rises to the level of persecution), so we have no reason to be unkind–much less rude–to the people who prepare and serve our meals. 2.) be patient. almost nothing demonstrates the character of christ more than waiting patiently, and almost nothing is more self-centered than impatience (especially loud impatience). your food will be along. the waitress has not conspired with the other waitresses to ignore you. and if you don’t have time to wait patiently, then go home and eat a sandwich. 3.) be generous. we all know that the lord loves cheerful, lavish givers. look at tipping as giving “to one of the least of these” (matthew 25:40) and start tipping as though jesus were waiting on you. if you can’t afford to tip generously, go home and eat a sandwich. (NOTE: some say, “i shouldn’t be required to tip if the service was substandard” and i disagree. because you have been identified as a christ-follower, you can/should expect to be held to a higher standard of behavior. we must do all we can to repair the damage to our (the church’s) reputation. tip like you give…generously.)
what might happen if the sunday lunch crowd suddenly started showering their hometown restaurants with love and joy and goodwill? what if they put personal comfort/concern aside and, with deep humility, demonstrated greater concern for others than self (philippians 2:3)? what if we earned such a reputation for generosity that waiters and waitresses fought over the opportunity to serve us? i see a couple of options…
either the restaurants would all have to close because of the massive number of foodservice employees falling over with heart attacks, or christ-follower would begin to be seen as lovable and approachable, rather than self-absorbed and hypocritical.
and a waitperson or two might change their opinion of jesus and the gospel.