- They know our names: The waiters and waitresses at the Waffle House make an effort to learn our names and the names of our children. They also make an effort to learn the names of everyone who comes in. I have been sitting at a booth and listened while our waitress talks with everyone in the restaurant and asks them by name how there family members are doing. We as a church and as church leaders should work hard to learn everyone's name who visits and who are members. It has often been said that a name is a bridge to a relationship. We should work hard at learning names and using them when talking to people. It shows we care and desire to get to know someone on an individual basis. Our congregations are made up of individual people with individual dreams, fears and excitements. We need to work hard learning their names so we can better minister to every person under our care.
- Friendly and Hospitable: From the moment I walk into the Waffle House until the moment I leave I feel welcomed. I feel like I am part of the Waffle House family and to be honest I feel the love. It has well been said that the church can be the most unwelcoming place if you do not fit the mold. We in the church need to go out of our way to welcome guests and make them feel comfortable in our churches. We need to be genuinely friendly and hospitable answering questions they may have and welcoming them to our church. It should not matter that someone has entered our church in shorts or covered in tattoos or body piercings. Every person should feel the love of Christ coming from our churches. Sunday morning should be the friendliest and hospitable time of the week for everyone who enters our doors.
- Down To Earth: The Waffle House is probably the most comfortable down to Earth place on the planet. No one puts on airs and attempts to act all high and mighty. Everyone is welcomed regardless of the style of dress. We need to be churches which are down to Earth. I realize it is popular among a different generation to get dressed up for church and to treat it as a sacred place. This is fine but let us not forget that church is not the building but the people. For example, a hat is not being worn in the church but rather a hat is being worn on the church. As a Pastor I need to be down to Earth and personable. I need to get to know those in my church. I need to lose my tie, take off my jacket and be real. Long gone are the days when Pastors wear suits and ties and put on airs in front of the congregation. This next generation is looking for Pastors who are real and down to earth relating to them and applying the Scripture in everyday language. We can wear a suit and tie preaching but we need to leave our "green rooms" and meet our church members. Sharing meals with them in their homes, seeing them at their work or school and talking with them as normal people.
- Talks To Our Kids: We go back again and again to the Waffle House because they talk with our children and make our children feel welcomed. If we want to be reaching younger families than we need to go out of our way to make their children feel safe and welcomed. As a Pastor I need to interact with their kids (what else would a Student Minister be doing) but also working hard behind the scenes to ensure that everything in the Nursery and Children's department is safe and fun.
- Serve Hashbrowns: Everyone loves hashbrowns and if the church started serving hashbrowns smattered, battered, and covered I am sure we would see an increase in our churches. ;)
In conclusion, I love the Waffle House and I think we can learn a lot from their philosophy on how to grow our church.