As I’ve traveled around the country, particularly in the South, I’m often late to town and hungry. When I’m by myself, so Judy does not know, I search out a Waffle House to calm the stress, enjoy the carbs, and go to bed happy.
Our Executive Pastor sent our Leadership Council members an email today where he shared some of his Holy Spirit prompted insights. The insights were connected to the “re-opening” of the church and God’s purposes for the next stages of Church ministry. He shared the story of the scattering of the church in 70AD in Jerusalem. Because of the destruction of the Temple as well as the leveling of Jerusalem by the Romans, the church was forced to scatter, paving the way for the first huge wave of those spreading the Word, growing the worldwide church, and truly building His Kingdom. They had to scatter, or they would be smothered.
The scattering was critical to the growing. They had been somewhat smothered, and now covered with God’s grace and in the power of the Holy Spirit, a “new Church” was created.
Check the menu above. Before the ’80s, the waffle house menu for hash browns consisted of regular or scattered. Scattered meant the hash browns were spread out over the grill and were well done, crispy on all sides. A few Waffle House short order cooks started adding onions, and then cheese to the hash browns for their enjoyment. Then scattered, smothered with onions, and covered with cheese became a universal option. Once the door opened to hash brown creativity, there was no closing it. Texans started adding gravy to the mix and the Waffle house hash browns were now Scattered, Smothered, Covered and you add to the options.
Check out the menu at the top of this message and you can see some of the creative expressions used by the serving staff to communicate with the cook. I particularly like the Peppered, Topped, and Capped. What’s your favorite?
This is a good analogy for how the word about Jesus and how he was worshipped spread throughout the world. There were unique expressions of faith that took root in different parts of the world. One faith, different expressions.
Each one of those expressions, like the Waffle House hash brown options, came about because of a need or desire for change. God’s plan for salvation is clear and simple, yet how it expands and grows changes with time and circumstance. Perhaps our current experiences with the virus will change how we bring God’s message to a hurting world. We will be both challenged and free to experiment with new forms of messaging, worshipping, and communicating.
This does not mean that we don’t retain some of the past, as long as it does not slow down the evangelistic opportunities. We know many will not set foot in a church but will connect with Instagram, Facebook, or a YouTube channel. We also know that our God is one of love and relationship. Both of those are expressed in community. So, what will future Christian communities look like? We are not meant to be separated from either God or each other. However, the way we connect may very well be in transition. A note passed between Christians held in a SE Asia jail brings relationship and community. A Skype call with a fellow believer in Latvia, Romania, Sudan, or Mali creates relationship and the opportunity for ongoing community.
The challenge for ourselves, our families, and our churches are to remain open, attentive, and actively engaged with God’s ongoing plan to bring His word and a relationship with Jesus to all who are called according to his purpose and all whose heart will turn to Him.
The message of the Waffle House – while being scattered – we are also covered and provided the opportunity to add creatively to the next “evangelistic” option.
We don’t know what the next steps we are to take when following His call, both as individuals and as the church body, but by faith we know He has a plan and it is for good. We do know that we must step out in faith, listen closely to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and to not be afraid.