Bread. I like bread. All sorts of bread. French bread. Italian bread. Croissants. Baguettes. Hawaiian sweet rolls. Wonderbread. Dark German bread. Pretty much any type of bread, I can enjoy. (Except Bagels. Don’t really like bagels.)
That being said, because I like bread so much, I see it as one of the most important ingredients in a sandwich, if not the most important. I believe this comes from growing up in Europe– we had great bread living in England and Norway and traveling through the Continent. Bread is the first thing your tongue hits as you take a scrumptious bite.
So often in America, however, I have found that bread is just the transportation for the innards of the sandwich, the real stuff– cheese, meat, condiments, juicy tomatoes. That’s why at many places, the bread is pretty dry and plain and flavorless. Not everywhere, but many places. Usually, restaurants describe in great detail what is in between the slices or between the buns, but the bread itself is just whatever they have on hand. Meanwhile, to me, bread is the skeleton of the sandwich. Without good bread, the sandwich is a flop.
I promise you, I am going to talk about more than just bread. Take traveling for example. For many people, traveling is a big hassle, and anyone that has flown in the past few years understands why. But on the whole, travel can be a real stressor. Traffic. Scheduling. Payments. Booking. Vehicles. Noisy kids. Bad drivers. Poor highway construction. Lackluster airplane food. However you travel, there can be many things to make it a pain. That’s why many people just try to find the easiest way from point A to point B. Get in, get out, get it over with. And while I understand the hassles of travel, I feel that you miss out so much if you’re just in a hurry.
Once you get through security, it can be a great joy to explore an airport, people watch, or find some unique location-specific snack. On the plane, it’s amazing how your mind can start storming when you have to sit in one place for hours. And on the road, there’s so much to be experienced. Travel games. Audio books or radio dramas. Good conversations. Tasty fast food or junk food. Although road travel can be annoying, road trips can be so much fun and so meaningful.
Now you’re sitting here, wondering, “Ok, he wrote about bread, and now he’s writing about travel? Is he just picking random topics and hoping it goes somewhere?” Well, no. You see, the theme I’m touching on is a theme that is very important in church ministry, and that is excellence.
Often in ministry, we tend to rush or underthink how we present the gospel or how we get to a meaningful point. We believe that as long as we have a couple of important facts about Jesus, then it doesn’t matter if all the elements in a worship service are hastily thrown together, we still have the important innards of truth. And who cares if we tell a story, or even make up a personal story, as long as we arrive at the destination and make that altar call. You see, I care.
Now I’m not a perfectionist about ministry. In fact, I feel that there should be humanity and brokenness and imperfection present, because we’re not focused on doing things perfectly and being gods, but instead on being authentic and being God’s. But I do believe we should work hard, with our minds, our hearts, and our souls. A sermon should be well constructed. A story should be a good story, not just a teaser with no real ending. Music should have deeper meaning and purpose behind it.
You see, in a sandwich, the bread is important as well as the meat. In ministry, the methods are important as well as the message. On a road trip, the journey is as important as the destination. In ministry, the same is true. If we believe that God cares about the small things, then details matter. If we believe that God is present with us as we go through life, then the journey is important.
We should have good bread– strong, excellent, well-constructed, well-thought-out, appropriate, loving, just, God-glorifying ministry that carries the gospel message carefully and honorably. We must remember the story of Uzzah and the ark of the covenant. There were specific rules about carrying the ark that the people disregarded, and the cart they carried the ark in wasn’t able to properly transport it, which caused it to fall, which caused Uzzah to be cursed for not honoring the ark enough. I do believe that there are biblical truths about how we do ministry, but I also believe that there is freedom and creativity as well. We just must be sure not to do things all willy-nilly, but remembering to value every part of the gospel, the message as well as the methods.
We should enjoy the journey– for all of its ups and downs. Yes, travel is stressful, but if we just avoided all stressful things in life, there wouldn’t be much to life at all. The same is true in ministry. Yes, there are many factors that are hard to deal with– criticisms, jealousy, competitiveness, spiritual forces, noisy babies, bad hours, tons of work. But we must remember to enjoy the journey and not just race to make that last point on the Sunday morning sermon. Enjoy every step, because God is there, filling and touching every step. If we rush, we miss what He has for us and for our people.
So, in summary, I like bread. I hope you acquire a taste for bread too.