One of my favorite restaurants is a tiny Italian, family-run place called "Via Maestra 42" which is located in Santa Barbara, California. The restaurant has incredible food, there is a real Tuscan Italian family who run it, and it only has about 5 tables in the main room, with bar stools stacked along the sides of the wall. My favorite part about the restaurant though, is that in order to use the bathroom facilities, you have to walk through the kitchen. On my way to the "loo" this past week (actually I didn't really need to go, I just wanted to go into the kitchen) I walked past a sous-chef flipping a flaming ingredient in a hand-held frying pan. Another chef was pulling mozzarella cheese by hand. Another assistant was plating an entree. What I loved about the experience of walking through the kitchen was that I felt like I was really a part of the restaurant team. I sensed that I was a part of the action in the restaurant. I pretended to myself that I was even on the chef's staff. On a recent visit, I patted one of the chef's on the back on the way back to my table. "Nice work," I said, imagining that I was an extra on the television show, The Sopranos. Actually, I was just;
Walking Through The Kitchen
People have often asked me what some of the keys to growth in a church are. The answer to this question is, of course, multi-fold and varies from setting to setting. However, for Highlands Church, walking through the kitchen has also been an important dynamic for us. Every Sunday when the doors of our church close at the beginning of worship, there are invariably a large number of "late-comers" who arrive after we begin. Maybe these people don't realize how challenging it can be to find a parking place near the church, maybe they got stuck in traffic, or maybe one of their children threw a tantrum on the way to church. Because of our funky lay-out, and our difficulty in having an abundance of functional space, when people come late, we always route them through the kitchen in order to let them into worship. When people do so, they weave themselves past communion plates being prepared and refilled. They promenade past name badges of connections team members, and brooms for cleaning floors in between services. In order to enter our church on a Sunday morning, many people have to;
Walk Through The Kitchen
Ironically, our lack of a functional space dynamic has actually inadvertently contributed to a sense of intimacy, inclusion, and connection in our church community. The need to invite some people to walk through the kitchen automatically allows them "feel at home", and gives an impression that we are not perfect, and we do not hide our laundry in our church. One of our mottos for Highlands Church is, "no perfect people allowed." Our kitchen is where we demonstrate this reality in spades.
So, if you come late to Highlands on a Sunday morning, or even if you don't, and you are routed through our kitchen, we hope you feel that you too are part of the team, and that we are not perfect, and we don't pretend to be. Feel free to pat one of our volunteers on the back and say, "Good job, thanks for your help." Better yet, pick up a broom and begin to actually be a part of our team. We could really use your help! That's why we have people;
Walk Through The Kitchen
All For Now,