I went out of town Monday and met a great, old friend for breakfast on Tuesday. He took me to his favorite, local breakfast spot – Pete's Diner.
We drove up and it looked like a typical diner (not sure what that means to you, but to me it means old, not particularly "shiny" or clean, a bit run down). But that's ok… I wasn't turned off by the outside or inside look of the place – I've been to enough diners to know that doesn't necessarily reflect on the quality of food. But I did get turned off when I sat down and saw the generic ketchup.
When I see generic ketchup at a restaurant, I image this: If they are willing to save a penny per customer (two pennies at the most) by using generic ketchup and this is one of the most visible foods, then how are they saving money in the kitchen? And all of a sudden, I don't want to eat there anymore.
The worst is a restaurant here in my town that I used to go to for breakfast. Not only was it generic ketchup, but the labels were falling off the plastic, generic ketchup bottle. And you'd open the cap to pour out the ketchup and it was obvious that the dried on ketchup around the cap wasn't just a few hours or even days ago… It might be MONTHS old. In other words, not only were they using generic ketchup, but they were REFILLING the generic ketchup bottles. I avoid that local diner whenever possible (unless the person I'm meeting picks it).
And I don't avoid it because I hate generic ketchup. I'm not sure I can tell the difference. But it tells me something about the restaurant's priorities. And for the first time, while sitting there with my friend on Tuesday morning, the application to church hit me.
What messages are we sending to new people when we do things with less than excellence? What are the "generic ketchups" in our building (cheap things that we don't even notice anymore)? What message is being received by new people that we aren't intending to send, but we are clearly sending when we save a few bucks and put "generic ketchup" on the table?
I'm not sure if that is as clear when I write it as when I think it. More tomorrow…