The alarm goes off on Sunday morning waking you out of beauty sleep. You've got to get up this time because you've already hit the snooze button seven times. The sun beams through the windows, and it's a great day to gather with fellow believers to lift high the name of Jesus. You put on your Sunday best, get the kids dressed, jump in the mini-van because you're already late. There is no need to stop for breakfast because you're going to raid the donuts and coffee in the Welcome Center when you get to the church building.
You walk into the worship service just in time for the "greeting" filled with fist-bumping and awkward side-hugs. It's an incredible time of worshipping the risen Savior through music, the preaching of the Word, and joyful giving during the offering. All is good! The worship service is over, you pick up the kids from children's church, and you make lunch plans with another family from your weekly small group.
However, here is where the problem arises. Somewhere between walking out of the church building and walking into the restaurant, we lose the intentionality of being witnesses for our great God.
Think about it, we literally just came from a corporate worship service, where we worshiped the King, thanked Him for His grace, and possibly even prayed, "God, use me this week to be a witness for your glory." Then, for a lot of Christians, they walk into a restaurant; sit down, God literally brings a waiter/waitress to their tables ... and they totally miss it.
It's as if God is saying, "Here you go. You asked Me to use you for My glory, so here is your chance. Or, at least don't be a table of knuckleheads that brings dishonor to My Name!"
Through 15-plus years of ministry, I've come to know many servers. In fact, I was a waiter in my college pre-Christian days, so I've always had a heart for those serving us. Recently, I conducted some private online interviews with present and former waiters/waitresses.
The questions I asked were, "Generally speaking on Sundays how did people treat you that you assumed had just come from church? How did they tip? Were they rude, more demanding, etc.?"
Sadly, what I heard was not surprising, but gut-wrenching nonetheless.
The following comments make me believe that the Sunday lunch hour is the most hypocritical hour of the week:
"No one ever wanted to work Sundays because of church crews. I never understood how they could go to church but less than 20 minutes after leaving be the worst example of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus." – Katie
"I absolutely hated working on Sundays having to deal with the church crowd. They were always the loudest, most demanding and rudest people, especially when they came in as a group. They would run you like crazy and then leave the most pitiful tip and a Gospel tract." – Richard
"They did not tip well. You just knew that when you worked the Sunday lunch crowd that you weren't going to make much." – Ashton
"One story comes to mind. There was a gentleman who paid for the entire table. I think it was a 12-top or something close. He was loud, boisterous and really liked to hear himself talk. After almost two hours of demands, not just of the server, but also the manager (me), he told us that since we was a pastor, he doesn't tip except for Sundays. Now, the bill for a dozen people at a steakhouse came to around $300. On the receipt, he wrote down a $5 tip and a note at the bottom that went something like, 'Tip - You shouldn't work on Sundays. Go find Jesus.'" – Michael
"The neighborhood I worked in was a wealthy area, and I was a college student at the time and not a believer. When I look back at those Sundays now as a believer, I think there's not anything in my mind that made the church-goers stand out in a good way. Nothing about them made me want to say, 'Hmmm ... maybe I should see what this Jesus thing is all about.'" – Alexis
"Now that I am a Christian, I look back at my time of waiting tables as a non-believer. Sadly, I never remember anyone trying to witness to me, invite me to church, or even ask if they could pray for me. In fact, in my four years of waiting tables, I think I only saw two families pray before they ate after church." – Sarah
"They never leave the payment until right before darting out only to have the server come to realize they received a low tip, especially for the amount of people, and how long they occupied the table afterwards. On top of that, they'd leave a church flyer or Gospel tract behind for the server. This would usually end with the server getting upset and venting to EVERYONE in the back about how 'crappy church people are and HECK NO none of us will ever go to your church or event!'" – Elizabeth
Wow! Is your heart hurting yet? I hope so. This is just a very, very small segment of what I received back in response.
Brothers and sisters, we have to do better and correct this perception that many of our server friends have of Christians. The above comments should be enough to cause us to re-evaluate our actions and prayerfully challenge us to be more self-aware.
What if we began to approach our local eating establishments with intentionality? What if we began to eat and be merry in a way that caused onlookers to be positively intrigued by our Heavenly Father?
Start looking at your servers as people made in the Image of God. Their lives, feelings, and souls matter to God and should matter to us. Many of them are trying to make an honest living, pay for school, and provide for their families. Engage with them, love them, pray for them, share Jesus with them if the opportunity arises, and for the love of God ... tip them well!
If you don't have enough money to tip well that day, then for the sake of your Heavenly Father, go through the drive-thru that Sunday!