West Franklin Family,
As in BAR-B-QUE.
I love it. Always have. Lord willing, always will. My favorite verse in the Bible is Jesus declaring all foods clean. It is okay to eat pig. Glory hallelujah. I grew up on Whitt’s and Big Bob Gibson’s. My favorite job of all-time (besides pastoring this lovely church, of course) was working at Chuck’s Bar-B-Que in Opelika, Alabama. One of my closest friends while living in Arkansas runs and operates Hogapalooza Bar-B-Que.(Go here or here for Instagram pages. . . .fair warning: you WILL drool on your keyboard.) You’ve probably seen me wear some of his swag. If you want to go to lunch in Franklin, we will probably go either here, here, or here. Most likely here. Heck, the reason I knew God was calling the Pearson’s to West Franklin was because the church address is less than half a mile from here. (I am kidding. . . sort of.)
I will never forget one Winter Saturday in 2008. A dear brother who grew up in Memphis, TN invited me on a “Tour of Memphis Bar-B-Que.” Just me and him. If you know anything about Memphis, they know how to do Que. My friend knew all the best places. We sampled meat at five or six spots and then gorged ourselves at our final destination. We judged each place by the food. We laughed. We cried. We ate. We smelled amazing smells. We got sauce on our shirts. We had to purchase sweatpants to survive the ride home. It was the greatest day of my life. I was so full I didn’t have to eat again until supper. So. Good.
Know what I learned that day? The best Bar-B-Que is usually found in a “hole in wall” spot. The best ribs, pork, chicken, turkey, brisket, and pie is most often found in beat up, run down, ugly places. If my memory serves me correctly (and when it comes to Que it is usually without fail), the best meat on that Memphis tour was eaten while sitting at a run down picnic table under an old beat up and rusty warehouse canopy like place – outside, on a dirt floor, with no heat. The area was packed. Word had gotten out. The best Que in Memphis was the last place you would expect. You had to stand in a long line, eat in the cold, and dodge cars in the gravel parking lot when you left.
It was wonderful.
Why do I share all of this? Well, first, who doesn’t like to talk about Bar-B-Que? I mean. . .
Seriously, though, think about this: when you have an extraordinary experience somewhere, you tell others so they can experience it too. Word of mouth creates a buzz, a spark, a sense of excitement, anticipation. In Memphis, on that cold winter Saturday, the word was out about the luscious meat that had been smoked to perfection. There was a buzz in the air. Why did people come? They heard it’s where they could glutton themselves on delicious dead pig. And they were not disappointed. They liked pig butts and they could not lie.
West Franklin, I am eager for a spark. I am longing for a sense of excitement. I am jealous for hope-filled anticipators. I so desire for there to be a buzz in the air when we gather on Sunday’s. I know, I know – it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to create all this. I get it and I agree. We are completely reliant on the Holy Spirit to create a celebratory atmosphere. But could it be He IS at work, but we aren’t paying attention? Could it be we don’t expect anything to happen? Could it be we have attended so long we have forgotten the point is to actually worship (enjoy) God, together? Could it be we have forgotten to ask God to majestically move when we gather? Could it be we have fallen into the trap of thinking a new building or lifted COVID restrictions or fog machines or bright lights would get us where we want to be? I am all for these things (except maybe a fog machine). They are necessary and needed and appropriate when the time is right. But the best Bar-B-Que places are found, not because they are modern and bright. They are found because someone told them about the delicious Que.
Let’s try something, West Franklin. Let’s all ask the Spirit to do remarkable and glorious things in and around us. Let’s ask Him to be present on Sunday morning’s. Let’s invite someone to come with us and anticipate the Father to work in their lives. Let’s expect God to work and be sitting on “go” to join Him when the time is right. Let’s approach the ministries of our church with a sense that God is acting. Let’s pay attention to what He does, is doing, and will do.
When we see it, feel it, experience it, hear it, embrace it, are transformed by it – we will tell others. There will be a buzz in the air. We will glutton ourselves on God and not be disappointed. I’ve had my share of wonderful experiences at Bar-B-Que houses in the South. I hope to have many more. But I don’t want them have all the fun. Expect God to work. Embrace what He is doing. Watch how He transforms lives. Be blown away. Tell someone about it.
Now. If you’ll excuse me, I need to plan what kind of Que I am having for lunch.
Grateful for “Clean” Foods,