I felt like a school girl shopping for a prom dress. I stood in front of the register staring at the menu on the wall for what seemed like an eternity. Ordering BBQ shouldnâ€™t be this hard for me considering that Iâ€™m a third degree black belt in all things BBQ. This menu didnâ€™t say ribs, brisket, pulled pork, or any of the usual stuff. Instead, they used clever plays on their words and wrote it in some cute cursive font that belonged on a Hallmark card. The thought crossed mind to leave but this place was packed with people.
The sweet young lady at the counter eventually asked if I had any questions about the menu. I said â€śYeah, whatâ€™s your most popular item?â€ť Now without even thinking about my question she said â€śOh! Our baked potatoes are by far our most popular order!â€ť I was shocked! I was confused. My senses were miss firing and my reasoning skill failed. Since when did BBQ joints get famous for serving baked root vegetables? Lord only knows why I didnâ€™t do an about face and walk right out of there. Instead, I went in to survival mode and just blurted out â€śJust gimme a pork sammich, baked beans and a tea.â€ť
I sat at a little dainty table in a trendy chair that was not built to support a real BBQ connoisseur. Any chance this will be good? No such luck. The laws of BBQ require meat to be cooked with fire, not a crock-pot. Bushâ€™s Beans are great but you canâ€™t charge $2.75 a scoop for them. Luckily the portions were small and the sauce was Sweet Baby Rayâ€™s, cleaning my plate was punishment.
I looked at plates on my way out and noticed everyone eating soups, salads, and those famous baked potatoes. I even took a second look at the sign to make sure they really served BBQ. Why were there so many people eating there? That place was awful! Then it hit me, they werenâ€™t there to eat barbecue, they were eating â€śBBQ inspiredâ€ť dishes. It was potatoes with BBQ sauce, salads with pulled pork and brisket soup. The sign said BBQ but eventually the locals learned to eat that stuff instead of traditional wood smoked meats.
When a BBQ joint is famous for potatoes it ainâ€™t a real BBQ joint. The same logic can be applied to the modern church. Many building have â€śChurchâ€ť on their sign but they are famous for something other than a Biblical proclamation of the gospel. Over time the locals may learn to come for other reason, like the youth group, the music, fun activities or just to see their extended family. Then some out of towner, like me will show up hoping to hear the gospel preached. Imagine their disappointment when they only find a â€śgospel inspiredâ€ť message? Just a sauced up imitation of the original. Friend, if your church ainâ€™t famous for the gospel, get out! Cause it ainâ€™t a real church.