Last year when Ronnie McBrayer moved back to Florida and his church, A Simple Faith, he began to think about why it was started.
“I began thinking a lot about how to rekindle and refocus myself and the congregation on the original mission of the church,” McBrayer told The Sun. “So I was thinking about how to take us back to our beginning purposes, and say it again, without just saying it again.”
As McBrayer searched for an idea to stir imaginations so they could “get it,” he decided what they didn’t need was more of the church as they had known it.
“My conclusion was that we need church to look more like a local diner — more like a neighborhood bar — more like a Waffle House restaurant — then, people might feel welcomed at ‘church’ once again.”
After a series of talks at A Simple Faith, McBrayer’s newest book, “The Gospel According to Waffle House,” was written.
The back cover of the book reads “This is essential reading for those who wish to do ‘simple church’ in a time when Christianity is increasingly fragmented and complicated.”
“I think this is a good summary,” McBrayer said. “I always circle back to simplicity, and this book, more than any other I have written, sticks with this theme.”
McBrayer, raised in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains, is the author of several books, including “Leaving Religion, Following Jesus”; “The Jesus Tribe”; and “How Far is Heaven?” His weekly newspaper and Internet column, “Keeping the Faith,” is nationally syndicated with a circulation of more than six million readers. And he eats every Christmas Eve at Waffle House.
While there, he always finds items that give him ideas.
“The jukebox,” he said. “The masterful fry cooks. The ‘Howdy, welcome to Waffle House’ every time I go in.”
And why did he choose Waffle House instead of, say, IHOP, for the book?
“IHOP to Waffle House is an apple to orange comparison, I think,” McBrayer said. “Waffle House is more ragged and less shiny. I like that comparison better.”
McBrayer uses his years of experience as a pastor, chaplain and columnist to challenge people of faith to rethink how they “do church.” He suggests a modest, commonsense vision to turn congregations into places that would welcome all people, preach and practice simplicity, and operate with grace and flexibility.
“The Gospel According to Waffle House” was originally going to be an ebook only, so it is a lot shorter than McBrayer’s other books.
“It’s not as wordy, which is a good thing for us preacher-types,” he said. “We tend to say more than we should. I wanted it to be concise, to the point, and something someone could read in a couple quick sessions. Maybe this reflects today’s reading habits more than an intentional plan on my part. Our attention spans are terribly short.”
People can order “The Gospel According to Waffle House” at http://ronniemcbrayer.me and amazon.com to rethink how to “do church” and get back to the basics.