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June 04, 2009

i am not coming back to that restaurant: a food-church review

It was going to be a late dinner. My mother-in-law wanted Japanese. We saw this “all new-improved Japanese restaurant  and decided to eat there.”

The place was nice. Cool lights, nice ambience BUT NO ONE IS DINING. All the neighboring restaurants were packed. Restaurants that don’t look as nice as this one. We checked the price. It was cheap – considering where they are located. The place was clean unlike other restaurants. Why no people?

The following events that took place answered my question
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We were given a menu. An all new improved menu. I was craving for a Bento meal. It was 9pm and I was hungry. My mom in law wanted one as well, my wife wanted one also. We didn’t care about the price, we wanted to eat. That was our felt need.

But in the menu – it says Bento meals are served till 2pm only. Huh? So I called the waitress and asked why.

She said, It is the new design they have for the restaurant. They have a different lunch set and a different dinner set. I said I wanted the Bento. I was hungry. I pleaded 3x if she could make a way to serve us.

She said, Sir I’ll suggest it to the manager. So I thought she was going to do it NOW! But she just stood there. I looked at her and said – ok please suggest. I realized she was going to suggest it some other time.

So in our hunger and disappointment we settled for something we don’t like. My mom-in-law and Thammie got their order in a few minutes. My order was taking so long. I called the waitress and couldn’t even pronounce her name because they changed their real name to some weird Japanese name. I wanted to shout MUSHI MUSHI IN A SARCASTIC TONE. IN ENGLISH “HELLO?”

They got my order out and it was the wrong order. They checked and they said we got it all wrong and your order is out of stock.
In hunger/anger, I ate the food that I did not order.

When we ask for the bill I was happy to see that they did not bill me for the order that I did not order. Now that is a good way to redeem themselves for such lousy service.

We were on our way out when the cashier stopped us and told us that they forgot to charge the food that I did not order.

I made my decision not to go to that restaurant again.

How can we as a church not go through the same mistakes?

1.    Know the felt need of the people. Have messages that would touch the felt need of the people  (ex: marriage, finances, relationships) before presenting the gospel.

2.    Serve the right food – we insist they eat the food that we eat but they can’t take it yet. They want the BENTO – give the message straight to me and not some fancy food. Leaders and pastors must learn what season there church is in and be sensitive to where the Spirit is leading them.

3.    Never listening to outsiders – the waitress could have cooked up 3 bento meals for us. We are happy, they are happy. We invite more people to the restaurant and recommend it. But they won’t listen. All we wanted was the BENTO! The people who goes to church wants to hear JESUS! No need to impress them with the Greek and Hebrew language. Listen to the language of the culture. Listen to the people you are reaching out to. And listen to my order it was tofu steak not adegashi tofu. More on that on these blog entry.

4.    Authenticity – the restaurant had Japanese waiters that look like Filipinos. I couldn’t even call them. I wanted to say Mr Ajinomoto or Toyota. People are looking for authenticity. Eliminate Christianesisms. Show them that as Christians we are people also undergoing the same temptations and trials.

5.    Show me that it’s worth the investment. I keep reminding myself this: The people who go to my church woke up, cancelled their appointments, missed an event, prepared their tithes, put on their Sunday shoes and serve faithfully. As a team, the least we can do is to make sure all their service and hardwork is worth it.

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