The Waffle House
Recently my middle child (Seth) randomly approached me and said, “Dad, I have some ideas for our student ministry I want to share with you.” I say “random” because this sort of thing doesn’t usually come out of his mouth. Honestly, this sort of thing doesn’t come out of any of my children’s mouths. It is rare when we talk about church stuff. They know what I do. When I began to probe about their thoughts of this or that, they can smell a mile away that I am going into pastor mode. So I was beyond intrigued when Seth wanted to share with me his thoughts about student ministry.
He proceeded to share what he thought were good ideas. They were. For a thirteen year old boy, they were really good ideas and thoughts. But what REALLY intrigued me was his answer to what got him thinking about this. As already mentioned, this sort of thing isn’t the normal conversation piece at the Pearson home. When I asked him why he was thinking about such things, his response was revealing. Know what he said?
I know, right?
The week before, due to schedules, I needed to take the kids with me to work. For breakfast, we descended upon one of the Waffle House restaurants in Franklin. Glory be to our great God. Syrup. Bacon. Scattered. Smothered. Covered. Coffee. Chocolate Milk. Syrup. Chocolate Chip Waffles. Steak. Eggs. Sausage. Syrup. Am I the only one who hears the Hallelujah Chorus playing when I walk through those grease caked doors?
When we arrived, four high school boys (probably juniors or seniors) were paying for their meal. I imagine the manager had to run to Costco to grab more food following their visit. Besides us, they were the only ones in the building under sixty. I noticed my kids watching them. I guess it’s human nature that we tend to identify with and lock in on people around our age.
But these weren’t just four high school boys paying for a luscious meal at the Waffle House. There was something about them. Something they had in their hands as they paid and left.
All four of these boys had a Bible, a journal, and a pen. It was obvious they had gathered early that morning for a Bible Study at the Waffle House. As the Pearson’s slid into their sticky-with-syrup booth, I simply made the comment, “That’s cool. Looks like those boys gathered here to study the Word this morning.” That’s it. Nothing more was said. We proceeded to drool over the menus and order our breakfast feast. I never really thought more about it. I assumed the kids didn’t either.
Until I asked Seth what got him thinking about the student ministry at West Franklin.
That moment. Seeing those boys with their Bible’s. Seeing that they obviously had been studying together at the heaven on earth place known as the Waffle House. That got him thinking. Almost a week later, it was obviously still on his mind. My oldest (Luke) even made a comment this week about going to the Waffle House to study the Bible with friends when he gets his license. That moment – the 60 seconds or so where we saw those boys – made an impact.
Why do I tell you this? Well, besides the obvious (God-things always happen at the Waffle House), here are a couple of thoughts:
First, studying the Bible outside of church and home obviously intrigued my kids.
I am not sure about this, but I don’t know if they had ever seen peers gathering to study the Word outside of church or home. Nevertheless, this instance stuck out. Perhaps it seemed “less boring”??? Not sure.
Second, studying the Bible with friends intrigued my kids.
I am probably over thinking this, but I wonder if being outside the “norm,” and studying the Word with their friends was something they leaned into in a way they had not considered before? Had they studied with friends at church? Sure. At home? Yes. But with friends in a Waffle House? Now we’re talking!
Third, non-rushed time with my kids matters.
This will probably be another blog post in the near future, but consider this for a moment. No school. Work from home. No sports. No practices. No performances. All of this equals more time with kids. I am learning that good and healthy conversations come when it is on their terms. For that to happen, I need to be with them. In their presence. Not distracted or rushed.
Fourth, God is at work in the next generation.
You know what DID NOT cross my mind the morning we ate at the Waffle House? I never once thought, “I have a good feeling we are going to see four teenage boys, upperclassmen in high school, studying their Bible’s at Waffle House today.” Nope. Didn’t think it. I tend to think the opposite about the next generation. I am glad I am wrong.
Four boys with their Bibles. No adults. On their own. Three Pearson kids contemplating that sight a week later. Think God might be at work?