Thou Pastry Hypocrites

03/11/2008


Don't Preach Krispy Kremes If You're Serving Stale 7-11 Cinnamon Rolls

By John Green

San Antonio, TX—Jim Briggens has developed a method for choosing what church he attends.

dunkinchurch

“Snacks ... snacks and potlucks,” the San Antonio native said, rubbing a hand over his generously rounded belly. “After all, man shall not live by the Word of God alone. We need carbs, as well as spiritual nourishment.”

After growing disillusioned with selecting churches on the basis of Bible teaching and quality of music, Briggens, an independent security guard, developed a formula which factors in the pre-service snacks and beverages, as well as food provided at potlucks and other church functions.

serving espresso

“I started to realize that I set my standards too low, and was settling for mediocrity. I found out there were churches offering Starbucks Coffee and Krispy Kreme donuts. It was a revelation, and my life hasn’t been the same since.”

Indeed, 20 pounds, and several pants sizes later, Briggens is an avid soldier in the “Perks War,” surfing from church to church, seizing the “loot.”

Briggens said he never felt guilty for attending church primarily for high-carb sugary snacks, despite numerous warnings from his doctor and friends.

“Heck no, pardon my French,” he said. “This is spiritual warfare, a battle for the souls of men. Churches have to do whatever it takes to win people for Jesus. No cost is too great. I’m just doing my part, helping encourage churches to maintain high standards.”

Briggens revealed that some churches use bait and switch tactics, luring people in with high-profile brand-name pastries and beverages, only to switch to supermarket baked goods and generic coffee at a later date.

“It’s despicable—the same kind of techniques that cults use, luring people in under false pretenses!” Briggens said, shaking his head in disgust. “If Jesus tasted some of that bad coffee, I know He would have tipped over the snack tables and driven some people out with a whip, just like He did with the moneychangers in the temple.”

As soon as a church lowers the quality of its pre-service snacks, Briggens knows that it is time to move on to greener pastures.

“I’ve had to change churches twelve times, just in the first five months of this year,” he said sadly. “It’s not easy of course, to pull up roots and leave, but sometimes you have to make the hard choices in life.”

Briggens said the experience has left him with a certain wariness that comes from the weight of experience. And, as is often the case in Christendom, differences are evident along denominational lines.

“Basically, the Baptist’s Sunday morning snacks aren’t worth squat, but they do have great potlucks,” he noted. “Pentecostals tend to have good sugary baked goods but no coffee. To get your higher quality coffees, like Starbucks or Seattle’s Best or Ruta Maya, you got to go to an Independent Bible church. Lutherans don’t have much to offer unless you count getting wine at communion every Sunday. Methodists have good ice cream socials. You do learn a few things when you are in the trenches like I am.”

In fact, he is preparing to launch a website where subscribers can log in and access the information.

“Basically, I got the idea from my wife,” Briggens said. “She was doing this ‘CouponSense’ thing where it showed you where all the best deals at the supermarkets were, and I thought ‘Why not do that for churches?’ I look at it as a real ministry to believers. I’m in touch with where the best places to worship are. Plus, I can alert people when churches go into decline so they don’t ever have to have a bad Sunday. They can just switch right over to a new church without missing a beat. I’m doing all the hard work so they don’t have to. All they have to do is pay a small membership price to cover my expenses.”

Of course, there is more at stake than coffee and donuts. Briggens showed off some of the “loot” that he has collected while visiting churches.

“This here is a Footprints in the Sand laminated bookmark I got at a small Baptist church in East Texas,” he said proudly. “Got this Hillsong CD at the Ever-Expanding Glory Pentecostal Church in Forth Worth, and this gay pride ribbon from the Episcopals. Oh, and check out this End-times Prophecy Timeline chart which unfolds out to a full six feet long. Got that one at John Hagee’s church here in San Antonio.

“I’ve got a whole room full of this stuff at home. Most of it’s kind of useless,” he conceded, “But still, you gotta admit it’s pretty cool that I got it all for free basically.”

To get a broader perspective, we contacted church growth expert, Professor Wilhelm Scheinburg of Fuller Theological Seminary.

“It’s not an entirely new phenomenon,” Scheinburg said. “Churches have been offering various enticements to attract members for years, but recently, things have escalated to dramatic new levels. Since growth numbers, particularly the megachurches, are coming primarily from membership transfers rather than from conversions, church members are a limited commodity. Because of this, there is a very high level of competition, and often one church will set a new precedent in what they are offering. Other churches have no choice but to follow suit. If things don’t change, I foresee that in the near future, the majority of a church’s missions budgets will be spent on attracting and retaining members.”

As for Briggens, he’s heading for Oklahoma this weekend for a round of conservative Baptist churches.

“Fertile ground, I hear tell,” he said. “When you can’t dance or drink, eating’s about the only vice most of ‘em have left—so they do it right! Besides, there’s this church in Tulsa that has started a ‘Croissants for Christ’ outreach ministry that I’m just dying to sample!”

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Comments(14)

that calvinist doug | 08:39 am on 3/11/2008

I'm waiting for beer and pizza Friday night fightclub at my church. I'll keep you posted, John.

RevJosh | 10:33 am on 3/11/2008

The heck with starbucks and krispy creme. I'll take the good home made stuff any day. The little old ladies in the church make the best stuff and I have the waist line to prove it.

beer and pizza night........I think I have an idea for the next outreach committee meeting. thanks doug

Allen | 03:21 pm on 3/11/2008

This article should bring tears to church members, boards, and staffs. Though this is satire, there is almost too much truth in the comments.

The serious question is: Do you want your visitors to eat "day-old" donuts and drink stale coffee while they wait for the service to start?

I think this would create a very bad first impression of your church. It would be better to have nothing for the visitors than to serve poor quality stuff.

Church has become a highly competitive business. Everything from the sign to the parking lot to the greeters to the pre-service snacks needs to be strictly "first class". All of this will help prepare the visitors (and regular members)for what hopefully will be a first class service.

doug --- I visited a church once in the Colorado Springs area that actually had a pizza and beer social for the men. It was sanctioned by the church and held in one of the member's houses about once a month.

allen

that calvinist doug | 07:20 am on 3/12/2008

Yes, but did they also have the fightclub? This is an integral part of working out their salvation with fear and trembling.

Mainah | 09:45 am on 3/12/2008

Pre-service snacks? I've been missing out. I'm lucky to get a post-service cookie. However, my UMC does have wonderful bean and casserole suppers.

SRebbe | 10:34 am on 3/12/2008

My church doesn't believe in alcohol on campus... something about 'addiction' or 'weakness.' It hasn't been explained to me. Doesn't want to condone that part of human nature. Of course, we don't say it's a sin, either. Gotta love Church of Christ branches.

True, Allen, church is now a business. Impress to keep your numbers up. All about the body count because people only attend about 1-2 times a month (but lie and say it's more than that because our moms might find out). And that number is shrinking as we youngsters are leaving in mass exodus because we ain't getting "fed." Spiritually.

Somehow it's perfectly acceptable to keep congregations in bondage to caffeine dependence and high-calorie comfort foods between services? Oh, the humanity!

Process Deist | 05:43 pm on 3/12/2008

SRebbe....you are right about caffeine.
You know the UMYF kids have had too much when they can tapp out the Gloria Patri with their teeth.

scottie | 07:47 pm on 3/13/2008

I do not mean to criticize or offend with this comment but when will people start taking some responsibility for feeding themselves instead of placing this "need" solely on a church? Let's put down the milk bottle we've been sucking on for years and years and have some prime rib, you know what I mean? Some should have reached maturation long ago but would rather still suck on the teet.

that calvinist doug | 03:28 pm on 3/17/2008

Criticizer! Offender!

Who cares? Sometimes the truth must be spoken. I see that most of the "exploding" churches around my area are those with a huge pull into the twentysomethings. Not my cup of tea, personally (I'm 40 and past the angst and self-importance that youth imbues, but, sadly, also the limber back and 300 yard drives). One of them actually hands out earplugs at the entrance because their worship band is so damn loud. I'm sure Jesus is smiling while he covers his ears...reminds me of the Spinal Tap line about their amps going to 11. But if these kids are getting "fed", great! And if they're not, then maybe they need to find another church, or as you suggested, look in the meat drawer of their spiritual fridge instead of the dairy.

BJ | 10:06 am on 3/13/2008

Serving "special brownies" would increase attendance and improve the overall temperment of even the crustiest old elder. Combine that with snack foods around the pulpit area and you've got some serious altar traffic.

SRebbe | 04:13 pm on 3/13/2008

we reserve the special brownies for the musicians.

Process Deist | 12:24 pm on 3/13/2008

How evil can I get?
The next time the fundies mess with me......I'm going to provide their Sunday School kids with white powdered doughnuts and redbull.
That should keep them 'Focused on the Family'.

SRebbe | 04:15 pm on 3/13/2008

All unsupervised children will be fed sugar and given a free puppy.

Process Deist | 09:26 pm on 3/14/2008

and thus, after the plagues brought on by Process Deist and SRebbe, Pharaohs heart was hardened no more, and he was increased in wisdom.

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