Disclosure: This is one of those “naysaying” articles. But healthy and maturing churches occasionally need them. And in fact, there is a good likelihood that if properly applied, it will not only strengthen us as a Body, but may also help us towards fulfilling our new year resolutions to lose some weight!
Several weeks ago, due perhaps to some coffee snobs amongst the diaconate, we began to have filter coffee available after the morning service. This has been especially appreciated by those whose cultivated pallets require something other than Ricoffy or Nescafé. Thank you, guys!
They also generously decided to provide doughnuts on the first Sunday of each month. This is quite a gesture considering the frugality of our deaconate! Seriously, we appreciate these doughnuts—especially those who have been quick enough to secure one. Unfortunately, though plenty are purchased (enough for one per person) many have not been able to enjoy one. What it is the mysterious cause behind this inequity?
Well, after thorough investigation, and after consulting those in the know, we think that we have been able to identify the problem. It seems as if this is one of the many syndromes plaguing our society. It may be a psychological problem, or it may be a physiological malady. Regardless, in technical language, the problem is “Doughnumania.” This strange condition is manifested in people going nuts over doughnuts.
Though the research related to this problem is still in its infancy, the problem seems to be especially symptomatic among the population group known as Baptists. This is interesting, particularly in the light of some other observations.
It would seem that, among various Christian denominations, along with doctrinal distinctives, there are also peculiar culinary/gastronomic characteristics.
For example, scientific research indicates that the Dutch Reformed Church consumes higher amounts of protein (probably due to their preference for biltong). Anglicans and Presbyterians are probably the best wine connoisseurs. (So, if you are thinking of leaving the church, then consider …)
The Emergent Church, of course, is not dogmatic, but generally prefers either sushi or vegetarian dishes to strengthen the body for the journey. And since, as a local Methodist minister once said to me, “at Christmas and Easter everyone becomes a Methodist,” perhaps gammon and hot cross buns are their distinguishing food types.
There are no firm conclusions yet about what Charismatic churches prefer, but some claim they feast on what seems to be “manna” that miraculously falls each week. Rumour has it that they are beginning to complain about a lack of variety, but they say that it tastes like wafer. I would imagine though that most Baptists would probably find it too light on salt and not heavy enough in kilojoules. For it is generally the case that, historically, Baptists have been characterised by an appetite for carbohydrates. We like fellowship and food—and not always in that order!
But further, coupled with a love of calories, Baptists also love children—lots of them! So, what do you get on a Sunday morning when you combine an opportunity for the consumption of carbs with a crowd of children? Well, the cumulative effect is that a fellowship hall takes on the look of a mess hall, with emphasis on “mess.” And it appears that doughnuts seem to be a special kind of trigger for such a transformation. It has been said that, in some cases, rather than the nuts being on the doughnuts, the nuts have the doughnuts. To quote James, “Brethren, these things ought not to be so!”
We have recently learned from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that, as members of the Body of Christ, we are called to mind our manners. If we are to build one another up by our words, and if we are to edify one another by being considerate and compassionate, then perhaps there is no more practical opportunity to do so than when we have opportunity to eat together.
Principally, we need to think of others before we think of ourselves. We should not race to the food table (unless you intend to serve others) but should rather allow others to go before us. Further, we should exercise self-restraint. One doughnut is enough to keep our blood sugar at an exceptionally high level until we get home. And then we can eat as many doughnuts as we feel led by the Holy Spirit to consume.
Eating together also provides a wonderful opportunity to teach our children to think of others, and to respect those who are older. I love a sign that I see in some neighbourhoods cautioning drivers. It reads, “Children should be seen and not hurt.” This should be true, everywhere. But let me add that, when the church is serving food, children should be seen—but not at the front of the queue! Neither should they be seen unaccompanied. If children are not helpfully restrained, then they might go nuts over the doughnuts and this will drive everyone else nuts!
Having diagnosed the presence of Doughnumania, having been enlightened about its pathology, and having been made aware of its cure (described above), all that is left to say is, “Deacons, bring on the carbs!”