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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Where’s the Fine Dining?

By Lewis R. Shelton
Aug. 11, 2013

Imagine you have just moved into a new community. You lead what would commonly be considered a “normal life” — enjoying home, work, family, friends, recreation, exercise and community involvement.

You are not necessarily unique or demanding in your expectations; you simply desire a degree of easy access and convenience regarding the things you enjoy and the acquisition of things you need. Adequate shopping options, good restaurants, as well as grocery stores, service stations, and dry cleaning all serve as examples of the things you hope to find within a short distance from your new residence.

On Saturday you begin to investigate the restaurant options. You are mindful of good nutrition and consequently tend to eat at home whenever possible, but there are occasions when you simply look forward to the opportunity to eat out.

As you peruse the phone book, local newspaper, and Internet, you soon realize that basically every venue offering food in your new location can be quickly lumped into one category: fast food. Your search leaves you with a simple question: “Where’s the fine dining?”

Undoubtedly, our fast-paced, live-it-to-the-max lifestyles foster the drive-thru, get-and-go type of dining venues so commonly found on the main streets of every town, city and suburban area of America. The competition runs high, and new offerings are continuously being advertised.

Some suggest a better burger; some, better fries; others boast cheaper drinks, fresher salads or specific-to-customer-desire products. However, no matter how you order it and regardless of the location, the experience is basically the same.

Switch the concept from public eateries to houses of worship, and too often you can observe a similar phenomenon. The desire to attract occupants within the average community to the spiritual realities of the gospel motivates many churches to change their approach to the ministry. Unfortunately, the success of the fastest growing church in the area tends to become the model for every other expression of the body of Christ, regardless of the brand.

Far too often, the outcome yields a community filled with spiritual venues that all serve their parishioners the same way. Few if any traditional expressions are to be found: preaching has been exchanged for dialogue, hymns and songs promoting harmony and declaring solid theology have been replaced by the latest playlist from the regional Christian radio station, and altar calls simply have been eliminated.

The desire to reach the lost is applauded. The willingness to adapt for the sake of relevance and response should be appreciated. However, if all the restaurants in your town were fast food, how often would you eat out?

I wonder if there might be a segment of our population desiring something different. What a travesty to think some folks would never eat out, simply because we left them wondering, “Where’s the fine dining?”

LEWIS R. SHELTON is a former Assemblies of God pastor and college president now serving as a church consultant.

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