Food trucks and the church

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Last week, on my way downtown, I stopped at Street Food Thursday in midtown Atlanta. Anytime I have to go anywhere near downtown, I check and see where the Yumbii truck might be that day, and that day it happened to be part of a collection of food trucks near the High Museum.

I stood in line for a good fifteen minutes to get my Yumbii fix (it’s Korean BBQ tacos, and if that doesn’t does not sound appealing to you, I’m sorry, because it is a happy experience!). As I stood in line, I noticed that there were office workers, moms with strollers, and students who were in line at the trucks. There were different ethnicities, but one thing stood out. The people who were standing in line for the food trucks were the people who are mainly missing in communities of faith these days.

Missing. We talk about them in committee meetings: “Oh, remember blah de blah who used to come all the time til he graduated?” “Wonder what ever happened to whatshername after she started working?” We get our anxiety all over youth directors, pastors, and church leaders about them. Where are they? What are they doing? What do they find valuable? What will they commit to?

Well, I’ll tell you. They’re in line for the food trucks, and this means that the church is going to have to die and be raised, because a food truck kind of church will be considered blasphemy by some and scary by others and insane by still others and while we’re debating it, there are millions of people who will shrug and continue on their way, going from truck to truck, finding what they’re in the mood for that day.

The food trucks have one thing each that they do REALLY, REALLY well. The King of Pops sells 6-7 flavors of popsicles out of a cart, not even a truck. Yumbii makes heavenly Korean BBQ tacos, enchiladas, and burritos. The Good Food truck sells insanely creative Southern inspired yumminess called a Poodle. The overhead is low, but the demand is high, and getting higher. The first time I went to a food truck it was in the middle of nowhere by a furniture store. It was late. People congregated, checked on their phones, and when the truck finally pulled in, a line formed that soon went all the way around the store. Because they have that one thing, when people need it, when they want it, they will drive for it, and even better if there’s a food truck that does different things really well on every corner.

This changes everything, but it is the way the world IS, not even the way that the world is going. None of us can compete with the few giant BuyMarts of churches, if you know what I mean, and so the question now stands: What is our Food Truck? What is your church’s Food Truck specialty? And how can you “drive” it to a world in need?

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3 thoughts on “Food trucks and the church

  1. Interesting thoughts. There is also something about the fact that food trucks aren’t tied down to a brick and mortar place. That they started out catering to the needs of strongly blue-collar folks – construction primarily – who didn’t have time to go away from the job site to get lunch and wanted something good where nothing was available. They went where the traditional restaurants wouldn’t. What would it mean if we stopped thinking of church as a destination or place we want people to come to, but as a vehicle to take the Gospel where it isn’t yet and needs to be?

    1. great points! Where would we be today if Jesus only preached from the temple? He traveled and met people WHERE THEY WERE both physically and emotionally. Do our established churches do this effectively today? I am sad to say that many do not. But those that do are the ones you see on TV, in the bookstores, in the commercials – trying to make connections in what used to be unconventional ways but in our society are quickly becoming conventional and comfortable – much more comfortable for many compared to going to a brick and mortar church on Sunday Mornings in your white gloves and patent leather shoes…

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