Paper plates or fine china

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I am not sure I know the difference between an aphorism and a colloquialism, but I like idiomatic or metaphorical sayings that belong to a region or a local dialect. Our American, and particularly southern, colloquialisms are extremely confusing to people whose first language is not English or “Southern.”

Some of the more familiar colloquialisms or aphorisms are “pass the buck,” “I wasn’t born yesterday,” “put your money where your mouth is,” “your driving me up the wall,” and “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

I was in a conversation with Jon Reed, one of our Georgia Baptist evangelists, this week and he was talking about the importance of preparing for a revival. Jon said, “It is important for a church to do good, thorough, advanced preparation in order to have an effective revival. Some churches try to get by with paper plate preparation, but other churches really work at it and have fine china preparation.”

I loved Jon’s terminology. It made perfect sense to me. It doesn’t take much effort to pull out the paper plates and plastic forks and knives and throw a couple of burgers on the grill.

Preparing for a special dinner is different. You get out the fine china, the silverware, the cloth napkins, the fancy placemats and develop a menu with appetizers and entrees and side dishes and desserts.

Some churches schedule revival meetings, budget presentations, high attendance days, and special events, but they rarely accomplish what is desired, because they are paper plate events – not much prayer, planning, or preparation.

The temptation is the take the easy way out. We do it all the time. It is easier to file bankruptcy or default on your loans than it is to curb your spending and work with your creditors to repay your debts and discipline yourself to be a good steward.

It is also easier to recline in your La-Z-Boy than it is to get up, put on your jogging paraphernalia, and run for three miles or bike for 20 miles. However, exercise is essential to good health.

Before Nick Chubb, the Georgia Bulldog’s premier running back, was injured in a game against the Tennessee Volunteers in 2015 he had reeled off 13 straight 100-yard games. His injury resulted in three ligament tears in his left knee, including his posterior cruciate ligament.

According to Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report, Chubb stated, “I could have done two things, either laid down and never got up or push myself.” Chubb pushed himself hard through a strenuous rehabilitation program and eleven months later, carried the ball 32 times for 222 yards and two touchdowns against the North Carolina Tarheels. There was no paper plate workout routine for Nick Chubb.

Marc Chernoff has written an article entitled “7 Shortcuts You Will Regret Taking in Life.” He suggests it is easier to ignore people who hurt you than it is to forgive them. He declares, “Forgetting people who hurt you is your gift to them; forgiving people who hurt you in your gift to yourself.

“Always forgive others, not because they necessarily deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace of mind.” It is not easy to humble yourself, screw up your courage, and go to the one who offended you and extend the olive branch of peace, but it is the biblical way. It’s God’s way. It’s the fine china way.

And it is easier to maintain a church than to grow a church. Church growth requires the mentoring and discipleship of existing members, helping them to discover their spiritual gift(s) and mobilizing them for ministry. Growing a New Testament church requires meticulous planning and carefully implementing a strategy for reaching the lost, including knocking on doors and sharing the Gospel, revival meetings and outreach events. Developing a healthy church is a fine china endeavor.

It is also true that paper plates are used one time and discarded. They are not worth much and once used are no longer worth anything. Fine china is made to last. It is valuable and can be used for many years and is often passed down from generation to generation.

Surely, we want to build churches and ministries that will endure and stand the test of time.

Fine china is actually a ceramic material made by heating kaolin and other raw materials to temperatures between 1,200 and 1,400 degrees Celsius. That exquisite kind of dinnerware must come through the fire. There is no easy, comfortable, cool, relaxed way to produce fine china.

It requires blood, sweat, tears, prayer, sometimes heat, and a lot of hard work to have strong churches and effective revivals. Are you willing to pay the price?

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