I don’t know what I don’t want! Do you?

I stopped at a Whataburger the other day for lunch.  I asked for a Whataburger Jr with mustard, mayo, onions and tomato.

The cashier replied, “Oh, you mean a Whataburger Jr. without catsup and pickles?”

I chuckled as that question kicked my brain into high gear.  Then I answered the seemingly straightforward question by repeating my order.

In my more sarcastic days I would have begun to list all the things I didn’t want on my burger.  But I realized that the cashier knew some very important information I didn’t know.

She knew exactly which ingredients came standard on a Whataburger Jr.  As a reasonably well trained employee, she was able very quickly to convert what I had said into a question that

  1. said the same thing I had said in a different way and
  2. established that she, not I, was the authority on Whataburger Jrs.

I remember the same kind of conversation from my days at McDonald’s.  When  someone would ask for a Quarter Pounder with Cheese without Mayo, I would sometimes point out that they don’t come with mayo.

As I learned more about customer service, though, I would simply receive the order the way the customer spoke it.  I outgrew the need to correct the customer’s language.

I believe, in general, customers order burgers more to eat then than to learn the insider language of the restaurant.

If you are inclined to think I am going to hammer on fast food training, or restaurant insider language, well, no; that’s not really why I’m sharing this story.

If fast-food restaurants have insider language, churches wrote the book on insider language! What is even worse is this: I think we clergy (ordained Church professionals) may have an even bigger problem using – and needing other people to use – insider language than our church members do!

Can you explain your religious experience and understandings in terms a non-religious person would understand?  Not only understand, but, perhaps, want to know more?

If we expect to communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ, we cannot expect those who don’t yet know this good news to know what they don’t know.  Nor ought we expect them to even understand the insider language we use about this Good News.

5 thoughts on “I don’t know what I don’t want! Do you?

  1. Once again you amaze me!!!! Thank you for this thoughtful blog… This is a reminder to all of us that barriers can be erected without realizing we are doing so.. I’ll be pondering this as I start some physical labor in the garage.

  2. Let’s see… UMW, UMM, Narthex, Doxology, “go to our website”, Atonement, Previenent Grace, “call the office,” “contact Billy Bob for details,”…

  3. This is a thought-provoking good insight. (And I really, really miss Whatabuger. They closed all thier central Florida location several years ago.)

  4. A few weeks ago I was faced with this question and felt a bit bewildered at first. She had grown up in a Hindu context with virtually no understanding of the insider language of western Christians.

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