Who could pass up the Texas stop sign? On a trip through small towns in Texas there is no more welcoming sight than the bright red sign with simply the letters DQ written inside of it. No joke, Jenn and I will plan our travel times and bathroom breaks around when we get close to a Dairy Queen. At least we used to. Then… then we came across the one DQ that I will never, and I mean it, never go back to.
About half way between Fort Worth and Duncan, Oklahoma, sits a Dairy Queen that I dreaded passing. It was the natural bathroom break, the perfect place to stop on our way to our old home. From our first visit to this different DQ I swore I would never, ever, ever go back. Think I’m joking, ask my wife. To me the Dairy Queen in Bowie, Texas in one stop sign I will just run.
What made this wonderful restaurant a place to avoid? I can tell you, it is the same experience every time we went. From the moment we walked into the door to the moment we departed we were watched. You see, this DQ was the local watering hole. It was the place where the town gathered. I guess what was a bit unsettling to me was that the locals could tell when you weren’t one of them. Every time we entered this establishment we were met with the stink eye.
You can always tell when you enter a members only area. This Dairy Queen is one of many places in my life that I have entered and realized very quickly that the locals don’t really enjoy new faces. It probably didn’t start this way. In fact, this stink eyed clientele wouldn’t realize their practice. Day by day familiarity and pattern draw people inward.
I’m am by no means a restaurateur. I am a pastor. The other common place I see this is inside many churches. We love our fellowship. Deep in our hearts we want to grow our body, but familiarity and pattern have often lulled the church into an inward facing body.
Every church must constantly work to see that its mission is not to face inward but instead to embrace those who are outside its walls. What this means is that the church gladly gives up what is comfortable to them, removing any obstacles, so that those who do not know how things work inside have no problem getting to the cross of Jesus.