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Food for Thought from Session

From “Trader Joe’s Presbyterian” by Becca Messman. From The Presbyterian Outlook, May 27, 2014.


People have a lot to say about their favorite grocery stores. And why not? It’s the place that everyone goes once a week (or far more than that) to find food for their family. My favorite is Trader Joe’s, a quirky, small-bydesign chain of grocery stores that is clearly not trying to be any of its competitors. And I have thought to myself on numerous occasions, “Church could learn a lot from Trader Joe’s. And if there were a Trader Joe’s Presbyterian, I think I would go there.”

Innovative. Trader Joe’s is always switching things up. They are seasonal. You won’t find Pumpkin Spice Scones in March. Some items that I loved in the past are gone and are not coming back. And if a customer tries to demand that it be brought back, the staff person in a whimsical Hawaiian shirts says, “Yes, I loved that too! But I have learned to enjoy what it is when it’s here and know that the next thing will be just as good.”

We would do better as a church if we leaned into our seasonality. Weddings, funerals, baptisms, Christmas, Easter. Those are our wide-open doors when the world comes in. We should be ready and have samples to offer the curious and hungry gathered ones. I have found that sometimes those tiring seasons require extra intentionality: Do we have toilet paper in the bathrooms? Do we remember to say ‘Welcome’ in the flurry of announcements? Also, for resurrection to happen, something has to pass away. When the energy for a program has dwindled and folks are only involved out of a sense of duty, it is time to let it pass away and see what new life comes as a result.