Open Up the Kitchen

Kitchen_Open

It takes a lot of trust for restaurants to let customers watch them make the food they serve. Theoretically, it builds trust and perhaps even impresses us to see them display their ingredients and craft. However, let me confess: there aren’t many places where it actually works: chop houses, wineries, and fancier places. Other places with which we are more familiar: the Subways and Chipotles of the world—it’s a mixed bag.

Sometimes it’s fine. Everything goes off without a hitch. Other times, I leave wishing they had made it in the kitchen—or even let me make it myself. The ingredients look weeks old, the help looks like they have a cold, or the workers are irritable. In such cases, watching how things are made hurts rather than helps.

Here’s a question those in ministry need to ask: if what happens on Sundays was planned and pulled off with the church watching…would we be proud to show them? Or, would we need to alter what and how we plan for the church’s sake? Would the church watch, and as ministry was being prepared, begin to anticipate what was coming…or would they see stale ingredients, irritable servants and spiritually distasteful preparation conditions?

How about our sermon preparation? Would they see us making fresh bread, or handing out day-old donuts? Would they see us fervent in study or treating as though it’s an interruption to everything else we’d rather be doing? Would they see us serving Christ joyfully?

How about our elders meetings? Would they see prayerfulness, compassion, courage, and love for one another going into what came out of those gatherings? Or, might they see contentiousness, abuse of power, and legalism.

Every now and then, it might be good to let people watch you make some ministry. Let people see how the sausage is made—even if it isn’t pretty. Hire interns and give them an all-access pass. Let ministry leaders sit in on staff or elders meetings occasionally. Video a few elders meetings and watch them back on occasion (like game film). Walk people through how the church does strategic planning some time—how the church really does it.

There are many ways to do it, but what I’m saying is—get a feel for what the meal you’re preparing looks like to the eater. This will do three things: 1) train future ministry leaders; 2) It will give you new insight into your preparation through their feedback; and 3) It will increase accountability through what I call the “wash your hands” principle. . Employees that run into a customer in the bathroom are sure to wash their hands—lest they be found unclean for the task.

What if we were actually eager to share ministry like French Chef prepares food. He/she loves the art of preparation of the meal and loves to see the eater enjoy the fruit of their labor. They love to show you the kitchen, tell you what’s in the sauce, or the finer points of the wine. They do it because they love their craft and they want you to love it too. In some ways that’s what this blog is: stuff I share because I’ve found it helpful and would love for it to help you if it can.

Ministry, when it’s done right, is a joy to prepare, savor and share. So, open the kitchen up a bit. If you find yourself dreading that prospect—you’re likely a control freak or doing something you shouldn’t be doing. Was that blunt enough?

Just remember, even if the church never sees the preparation of ministry first-hand, God does. We should be most concerned about His review most of all. This week and every week, let’s make the meal in a way that would make God, and His people, proud. He’s always been watching, after all.

 

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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