I’m sitting in The Cheesecake Factory with my good friend Sara and I think, “What is it with The Cheesecake Factory? Everybody loves to eat here!” Well, obviously, it’s the cheesecake! But there is something intriguing about the guests…we are surrounded by the most eclectic group of people: parents with small children, high schoolers dressed up for Homecoming, a “girls night out” group, some older couples, some younger couples, some people who are not sure if they are going to be a couple….
So, what is it about The Cheesecake Factory? Is it fantastic marketing? Atmosphere? Great food? Great service? All of the above?
Maybe, when we talk about how to be a church, maybe we should think about experiences like eating at The Cheesecake Factory.
Fantastic Marketing – Have you ever seen a Cheesecake Factory ad? Probably not. They don’t advertise much, but you hear about the place all the time from friends who enjoy going there!
Atmosphere – The Cheesecake Factory is an awesome place to BE. It’s crowded, and lively and happy. There is a sense of celebration in the air. Nobody dreads going to The Cheesecake Factory.
Great Food – I guess it would be weird to argue a strong correlation between cheesecake and the bread of life, but, since I wouldn’t mind attempting to live on cheesecake:
John 6:35 tells us “Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.'”
Which has nothing to do with cheesecake at all except….have you ever in your life eaten a really good piece of cheesecake?
Because if you have, you know you can’t take that first bite without being completely overwhelmed by the melt-in-your-mouth heavenly bliss of it. It’s SO GOOD. And I don’t eat sugar often, so there is something very dormant in me that wakes up BIG at that first bite of cheesecake. What would it be like to take a taste of the bread of LIFE? Talk about waking up out of the dull and dormant!
Great Service – There are a lot of options on the cheesecake menu, and they’ve all got one thing in common. Beneath the chocolate and the whipped cream and the fruit and the sauces and the syrups, there’s a piece of cheesecake. A basic piece of cheesecake that holds up dressing, flavor, truffle or sprinkles, whatever your choice may be. Without the cheesecake, all that other stuff would just make gooey, sugary soup…too much sweet and not enough substance!!!
When they asked him, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:36-40)
Love God, Love Neighbor. That’s the true melt-in-your-mouth goodness of missional cheesecake. Just can’t get enough.