The church must understand how critical the restaurant experience is at Sunday lunch. Every server I talk with says the church crowd is gut-wrenching. They talk about how they hated the church crowds because they are the rudest and most demanding people of the week. Even more, they don’t tip well. (Typically.)
Shane Pruitt, a Christian Post contributor, interviewed several servers to examine their point of view on the church crowd. His questions included: “Generally speaking on Sundays, how did people treat you that you assumed had just come from church? How did they tip? Were they rude, more demanding, etc.?”
Below are five answers from his article, When Christians Mistreat Restaurant Servers Right After Worshipping God:
- “No one ever wanted to work Sundays because of the church crowds. 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.
- “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 and then leave the most pitiful tip and Gospel tract.” – Richard.
- “They did not tip well. You just knew that you weren’t going to make much when you worked the Sunday lunch crowd.” – Ashton
- “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 nothing in my mind that made the churchgoers stand out in a good way. Nothing about them made me want to say, ‘Hmmm … may I should see what this Jesus thing is all about.'” – Alexis
- “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 afterward. 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.
Here are two great ways to be "the worst" at Sunday lunch:
1. Treat your server with entitlement instead of humility.
Servers are people with thoughts and feelings, and when we talk at them like they are an object to serve our needs, we are undermining the reality that they are made in God’s image, 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. We need to see them as an opportunity to love them and introduce them to the redemptive story of Jesus by how we lovingly treat them and engage them where they are.
Here’s something you probably don’t know- servers talk trash about their customers ALL the time. You need to know that if you’re 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.
Think about it. How easy is it to gossip about someone you don’t even know, especially while you’re at work? (Somewhere you don’t want to be.) We need to watch our tone of voice and our words when we speak to our neighbor-servers. Our 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.”
2. Don't leave a generous tip.
Whether we like it or not, a lousy tip 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 we tip is the moment we show this. We’re demonstrating our priorities when we tip. There’s no way we can be greedy and have a positive effect on someone.
Tipping also communicates love. Servers have to work long hours, and the hours they work are horrible in terms of work/life balance. 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 family. 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 with 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, then you need to view where you eat on Sunday as your mission field. Filled with grace and seasoned with love, your conversation with your servers needs to be the very things that point them to (not detracts them from), Christ.
You’ve been entrusted with the gospel message, and you’re preaching with your words and actions every time you sit down at a table. Your server already has an ill-view of the church, so we need to be sure to exercise much love and wisdom with our conversations and, yes, how we leave our tips.