Ben works at a local sandwich shop called Baggins near our church. Every time I set foot in his Baggins I know I will leave happier than when I walked in. Baggins gives away a free freshly baked chocolate chip cookie with every purchase. Ben takes that a step further.
After you order, it probably takes five minutes for your food to come out. I’ve never been to Ben's Baggins and not been offered a warm chocolate chip cookie by a smiling Ben before my meal is up. Chocolate chip cookies as appetizers. Yes, please.
There are several other Baggins locations across town. But there’s only one Ben. Offering cookies to customers while they’re waiting for their order is his idea. Brian moves through the tables with a smile and a tray and asks how your day is going. He asks customers if he can refill their drinks. This isn’t a sit down restaurant. Ben doesn’t get tipped. He’s tipping the customer.
Do you know what restaurant I frequent disproportionately? Baggins. I’ve joked with our Exec Team that we need to have Ben come in and train our Welcome Team. I’m only half-joking. There is something powerful in his combination of kindness and hustle. Something inspiring about his level of ownership. In fact, it was only recently that I realized Ben wasn't a manager. I just assumed he had to be.
When people interact with me, do they leave feeling as special as Ben makes me feel? What would it look like for us as pastors to attend to every person we interact with on a Sunday morning like Ben? What would it look like if those interactions were multiplied out to our welcome team, our children’s check-in, to every teacher in every classroom, to our ushers, to our worship team?
When Paul lists out the qualifications for elders in 1 Timothy and Titus, he includes in both passages the requirement that the elder be hospitable.[i] Hospitality is no small thing. Engaging those who we don’t know with openness and warmth is at the heart of what gospel maturity looks like.
Imagine if we each left the relational wake Ben leaves at Baggins. Let us notice and care for every person that graces the parking lots of our churches and the paths of our lives. Let’s give them chocolate chip cookies as appetizers.
Photo credit: Jennifer Pallian/Unsplash
[i] 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8