A reader asked: “How do you get others to hunger for a right spiritual relationship with God with the same desire?” The answer has a lot to do with the treatment my wife and I received looking for a place to eat at two different restaurants: one excellent and one awful. We can learn from both experiences.

But the best part of the story is yet to come. When we came back to the first restaurant where the hostess was so helpful, she recognized and greeted us by name like old friends. Then, she introduced us to our waitress with the reminder: if we needed anything to let her know.

The waitress was friendly but nervous. As she came by carrying a tray full of water glasses, she tripped and the whole tray, water and all landed on our table, soaking everything but just missing us. She let out a loud gasp but then the entire restaurant staff sprung into action. While the waitress profusely apologized, one employee removed the mess and wiped everything down. Another swooped in with a fresh tablecloth and within seconds we were back in our seat as if nothing happened.

It could have been a disaster, but everyone was so apologetic we all ended up laughing. Later, the manager offered her own apology and gave us a free desert. We were really enjoying all the attention.

For the rest of the week, we ate all of our meals there and told others at the conference about the good food and extraordinary service of this restaurant. Often we waited in line to receive a seat but we never complained because we always found the experience worth the wait.

Occasionally we would pass by the other restaurant where we had been mistreated and often saw the same employee, sitting in front of the TV all alone with absolutely nothing to do.

“How do you get others to hunger for a right spiritual relationship with God with the same desire?”

The two restaurants illustrate the difference between what “Disney, Inc.” called “magic moments” where you are warmly welcomed and feel appreciated or “tragic moments” that leave you feeling neglected and ignored. The secret to offering “magic moments” is to understand what someone needs and then try to exceed expectations. One restaurant succeeded because they specialized in “magic moments.”

Our churches have the same opportunity by offering a warm welcome and a genuine interest in those who enter, those who live nearby and anyone else we come in contact with. In other words, we work to understand people’s needs and through our best efforts combined with God’s grace strive to exceed their expectations. The last thing Jesus said to his disciples was, “go and make disciples of all the nations.” (Matthew 28:19) We are given a challenge to offer our own “magic moments” through the power of God.

What would a church be like if they took this attitude seriously? Would people want to go there all the time? Would they tell others about the warm hospitality and generous spirit of the people there? Would they wait in line for a seat but never complain because they found the experience worth the wait?

Or, you could pass by another church where you had been coldly received. Maybe that same employee from the other restaurant would be there — sitting in front of the TV all alone with absolutely nothing to do.

Question: If someone encounters you on the street or enters your church will they be offered:

  1. Tragic Moment “What are you doing here? Why are you bothering me?”
  2. No Moment “Maybe if I don’t speak, he/she will go away.”
  3. Magic Moment “I’m so glad to see you. Tell me how you have been doing?”

Can you imagine the difference this attitude would make in your church, in your home, in your life? Well, all this talk of restaurants and food made me hungry. Does anyone know where to get a good sandwich?