I’m a Christian currently working in the food industry, so I’m writing this article because it’s extremely important that the church understands how critical the restaurant experience is during Sunday lunch. Several individuals I work with are unbelievers, and what they say about the church crowd is gut-wrenching. They talk about how they hate the church crowds because they are the rudest, most demanding people of the week and don’t tip well.
Shane Pruitt, a Christian Post contributor, interviewed restaurant servers to examine their points of view on the church crowd. His question was, “Generally speaking on Sundays how were you treated by people who had just come from church?” Below are five answers from his article, “When Christians Mistreat Restaurant Servers Right After Worshipping God.”
1. “No one ever wanted to work Sundays because of the church crews. I never understood how they could go to church, but less than 20 minutes after leaving be the worst example of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.” – Katie
2. “I absolutely hated working on Sundays having to deal with the church crowd. They were always the loudest, most demanding and rudest people, especially when they came in as a group. They would run you like crazy, then leave the most pitiful tip and gospel tract.” – Richard
3. “They did not tip well. You just knew that when you worked the Sunday lunch crowd that you weren’t going to make much.” – Ashton
4. “The neighborhood that I worked in was a wealthy area, and I was a college student at the time and not a believer. When I look back at those Sundays now as a believer, I think there’s not anything in my mind that made the church-goers stand out in a good way. Nothing about them made me want to say, ‘Hmmm . . . maybe I should see what this Jesus thing is all about.’” – Alexis
5. “They never leave the payment until right before darting out only to have the server come to realize they received a low tip, especially for the amount of people, and how long they occupied the table afterwards. On top of that, they’d leave a church flyer or gospel tract behind for the server. This would usually end with the server getting upset and venting to EVERYONE in the back about how crappy church people are and HECK NO none of us will ever go to your church or event!’” – Elizabeth
These are strong words and the two things that stick out are that we’re treating servers like servers and we’re not generous with how we tip.
WE’RE TREATING SERVERS LIKE SERVANTS
The worst thing we can do is treat a server like a servant. We need to treat them as humans instead of objects. These are people with thoughts and feelings, and when we talk at them like they are objects to serve our needs, we are undermining the reality that they are made in God’s image just like we are and should be treated with dignity and respect.
We don’t know their story because we don’t ask, and we don’t pray for them because we don’t care. This mindset needs to change. We need to see them as opportunities to love them and introduce them into the redemptive story of Jesus by how we lovingly treat them and engage them where they are.
In fact, here’s something you probably don’t know. Servers talk trash about their customers ALL the time. I know because I work in the industry. If you’re being rude then your server is probably going back to the kitchen and talking all kinds of trash about you to the rest of the crew. Then what do they do? They come back to your table with a smile and you never knew a thing. Watch your tone of voice and your words when speaking to servers. Your tone needs to be warm and loving, and our words need to be respectful.
Paul says in Colossians, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
WE’RE NOT GENEROUS WITH OUR TIPS
The second thing that sticks out is that we leave lousy tips. A lousy tip, whether we like it or not, does not glorify God and in fact works against our witness which can take a lot of time to overcome for an unbeliever. The church should be known for radical generosity, and the moment to tip is the moment to share the love and blessings that God has given us. We’re demonstrating our priorities when we tip well. There’s no way we can be greedy and have a positive effect on someone.
Tipping also communicates love. Servers have to work really long hours, and the hours they work are horrible for balancing work and life. Think about it, are they at their dinner table with their family? No, they’re at your dinner table waiting on you and your family. They would give anything to be at home with their families. Trust me, I know.
In addition, servers typically don’t make much money. While it may true that they “need to get a better job” it still doesn’t change the fact that God has placed them right in our path for us to love them. Maybe they can’t get another job. It’s hard to find a good job and we don’t know their story. So, saying “They need to get another job” is a judgmental way of looking at their situation.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians, “Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
If you’re a Christian you should view where you eat on Sunday as your mission field. Filled with grace and seasoned with love, your conversation with your server needs to be the very thing that points them to (not detracts them from) Christ. You’ve been entrusted with the message of the gospel and you’re preaching with your words and actions every time you sit down at a restaurant table.
Your server likely already has a bad view of the church, so be sure and exercise as much love and wisdom as you can with your conversations and, yes, with your tip.