I was driving to an appointment yesterday when a large banner strewn across the front of a shop caught my attention. It was announcing and celebrating that the takeaway premises had been awarded 5 stars for cleanliness and hygiene by the local authority.
As wonderful as that was, my attention was now not drawn to what food the shop sold, but only to the fact that the shop was nice and clean.
As I drove by with my wife, I pointed it out to her and we chatted about how commendable their hygiene standards were, but the big question that was left unanswered was this: is the food any good?
Somehow the 5 star award for hygiene had caused the owner to lose sight of why the shop existed, which was of course to provide a great takeaway. Both are very important.
I started to ask myself the question…’would I go there just because it’s clean and sterile?’ and the answer was no. Gaining a hygiene certificate was one thing, but serving great food was another.
The reality is that I fully would expect the shop to be clean, but I would never walk in one night whilst starving and ask the owner if I could have look around just to make sure that I wasn’t going to catch anything.
I wonder how many times in church we have lost sight of what really matters in favour of what should be expected.
Many people have chosen a church based on its clean and almost sterile spiritual environment. Everything in its place and no ungodly, unruly people, especially children and youth, to mess it up.
Sterile can not only mean that all germs are dead, but that no life at all exists there either.
I made a decision many years ago that I would aim to raise up a 5 star church that would be open to all and serve up the very best ‘spiritual’ food through the message that it sends out week by week; however, I’ve observed that when you do that, it can be a very messy business and the furthest thing from a nice clean sterile environment. Give me that any day over neat and orderly systems where there is no life at all.
If you’re thinking of what’s most important when looking for a great church, choose a 5 star church that prides itself in serving life giving hope for all, more than keeping a nice clean image.
A church alive is worth the drive.
A daily devotion for a better way of living.