I’M NOT TALKING about eating with the pastor.
I’m talking about eating the pastor alive…after the worship service on Sunday.
“Having the pastor for lunch,” in the context of criticizing the pastor’s performance on Sunday, is a phrase I first heard from a friend of mine: Gene Van Note. Before he became an editor, Gene was a pastor.
I knew that Gene knew what he was talking about because I have had many pastors for lunch after church.
I almost never ate with them. But I have often eaten them alive, while chatting over Sunday lunch with friends.
It seems like a natural thing to do, talking about the worship service…the main feature of which is the sermon.
The pastor stands up and talks for 30 minutes or longer. Usually longer. Then we pass the plate, sing the song, listen to the prayer, and go away.
If the sermon was thought-provoking, who would not expect us to talk about it over lunch?
If the sermon was mind-numbing, who would not expect us to say so over lunch?
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with talking about the sermon ideas we agree with or disagree with. I think any good pastor would want us to do that.
But there is a line we cross.
I think it’s easy to tell exactly where the line is.
Just before we open our mouth to say what we’re about to say, we might ought to think about whether or not we’d say it if the pastor was sitting at our table.
I feel very comfortable saying things like this:
- “I don’t think that illustration worked well with point he was trying to make.”
- “I really hate it when she goes abstract and stays there for a long time without saying anything that creates mental images in my head. I think Jesus got it right when he did a lot of his teaching by telling stories.”
- “We have a lot of musical talent in the church. I wonder why we keep using that one person who can’t seem to stay in the general vicinity of the notes?” (OK, so I’m a little more blunt than some folks. But I really would be relaxed about asking that one.)
If the pastor were sitting at the table, though, I might not feel quite so comfortable saying things like this:
- “Well, that was a stinker of a sermon.”( I might think it, but I probably shouldn’t say it.)
- “That plaid outfit made her look a little bit like a recliner I once threw away.”
- “I wonder what his wife does. Never see her around much. Wonder if she has a drinking problem or something? Not that I would want to start a rumor.”
If I’m going to have the pastor for lunch, I think it’s best that I actually have the pastor for lunch – or at least speak as though the pastor is sitting there with me.
Sounds like a good idea.
“Blessed is the person who does not… join the company of mockers” (Psalm 1:1, God’s Word Translation).