I recently spent the majority of a Saturday doing some slow cooking on my charcoal grill.  As I was thinking of a blog post to put up this week, I began to reflect on some of the things that are necessary when it comes to smoking some meat and how that applies to the Church.

  1. Preparation Is Important.  One of the most important things that you can do when it comes to smoking meat on a charcoal grill is make sure you take the time to get everything set up right.  I didn’t start grilling on Saturday morning.  Sure, that’s when I started the grill and put the meat on the grill, but that’s not when I started.  I started at the grocery store.  I started in the kitchen by trimming chicken wings and ribs, putting seasoning on the meat, and preparing marinades and brines.  That all had to be done on Friday night.  In the Church, some people think that you just show up on Sunday morning and everything just happens.  That’s not the case at all.  People have to unlock the doors and turn on the lights.  The musicians get there over an hour before worship to practice together.  The pastor (yep, that’s me) is normally in his office by 8:15 praying and reviewing a message that had to be written days before.  The audio/visual team has slides to prepare and microphones to get set up.  Our secretary has the bulletins printed.  Donuts are delivered and coffee is made.  Sunday school teachers prepare their lessons.  All of these people work hard to make sure that it seems like you can just show up on Sunday morning and everything is ready to go.
  2. Get the Right Equipment.  When the morning came, and I was ready to fire up the grill, I realized something very important: I had gotten the wrong type of charcoal.  It wasn’t an irredeemable mistake.  Really, it was just a matter of preference.  I like the all natural charcoal, but I prefer it in briquette form.  Unfortunately, I had bought the lump charcoal instead.  It still does the job, but I have to keep a closer eye on it because it doesn’t heat up as much or as long as the briquettes.  In the Church, it’s important to have the right people in the right place.  Yes, somebody may be able to do a job correctly, but it may not be the area in which they are passionate or gifted.  In the long-term, it may cause that person to get a little burned out in ministry, and suddenly, they are sitting on the sidelines when they had just been playing the wrong position all along.
  3. Staring Doesn’t Get It Done.  When smoking some meats, like ribs or pork roast, it takes some time.  In fact, I think my ribs took about 3.5 hours and the pork roasts ended up taking about 5 hours.  During this time, it doesn’t do you any good to stand there and stare at the grill.  Set a timer and check it periodically, but it’s not going to cook any faster with you lingering over it.  I knew the pork roasts were going to take some time, so I set my timer for 1.5 hours and came over to the church to visit with some people for a while.  In the Church, we can often identify when there is a problem; however, we don’t always take care of it right away.  Staring at problems doesn’t fix them.  Ignoring problems doesn’t fix them, either.  Identify the problem and take care of it.  Don’t let that problem consume your time.  Do what you need to do to care for the issue, and check back on it later.
  4. You Might Smell Afterwards.  After the pork roasts were done, I had to make a quick run to the grocery store to get some Ziplock bags.  In a move that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, while I was out I decided that I really wanted a cheeseburger from McDonald’s.  I’d been grilling for the past 12 hours, but for some reason a subpar cheeseburger and some fries sounded really good at the moment.  So, because I’ve never taken the time to get the driver-side window fixed on my car, I went inside to order.  As I was finishing up paying, the cashier looked at me and asked if I had a wood-burning stove.  After realizing that I probably smelled like smoked meat, I said, “No, I’ve been grilling all day.  Is it that obvious?”  To which she replied, “Yes.”  I hope, when it comes to church, it becomes obvious.  I hope that people in the church are being so transformed by the power of Jesus Christ that others look at them and say, “What’s so different about you?”  I hope the love of God is so much a part of your life that people notice.

So, there you have it.  Four lessons that I learned while I was grilling this weekend.  Lessons that I hope will stick with you the next time you fire up your grill.