Here I sit yet again in Panera, drinking coffee and listening to the sounds of life around me. Today I sit at a small two person table, I usually like the big table so I can sprawl out, but today I'm sandwiched between two big tables. On one side is a group of 40-65 year old ladies and on the other side is a group of 60-75 year old ladies. Oh the conversations, they range from the crazy grand kids and the joy they bring to their lives, to the movies they have seen lately, which I was sort of surprised by the great list they had. I had to keep my head down a bit because so much of their chatting was very funny and just great to listen to and I didn't want to "get caught" chuckling to myself. But I had to chime in when they were trying to figure out which actress was in a certain movie that they wanted to see (Shirley Mclain was the answer I gave them, to their surprise). This led to them asking about my little computer and them hoping a bunch of old ladies aren't interrupting my time, which I told them I work so much better with them sharing their stories. Their talk continued to go from stories of family to upcoming holiday get togethers and into how this certain movie really resonated with their childhood, which again kind of surprised me (they really like the war movies and ones with world affairs). I did tune out for a minute when they chatted about diet and exercise, I didn't care for the picture of their work out routine, remember most of them are at least 60! I tuned back in when they started in with God, religion, their churches and how their lives move within those areas. I enjoyed their take on the Bible and I loved that they wanted an adventurous faith, which was interesting to hear their thoughts on that. I had to chime in after a little while and just ask a few questions that were popping into my head, and here is where my day was made. I asked what does an adventurous church look like to them? They said it seems that churches today seem to think that if they have a "loud rock band and a lot of flashy stuff with some sort of skit or PERFORMANCE type of thing, then they have an adventurous faith and church." (emphasis is mine because that stuck out to me) They asked me, "how is church adventurous if we sit and watch a show and listen to a guy TELL US HOW to live life and HOW NOT to live life?" This is the best part to me; they then said that is one of the reasons they get together a few times a week at Panera or else where. "SO THEY CAN CHAT UP LIFE AND LEARN TOGETHER ABOUT GOD AND HOW TO LIVE LIFE AND ALSO HOW LIFE IS ALREADY ADVENTUROUS SO WHY NOT LIVE OUR FAITH IN IT!!!"
They still "go to church" because, "that's where are family and friends are," and "we can still sing songs together." I told them I like the church they have started at Panera and they kind of laughed and said, "We can't imagine other people would think some of the things we talk about are church!" I did my best not to tear up and I said, "I do and I'm pretty sure God really enjoys being apart of your gatherings."
I pray we can learn from "The Panera ladies church"