I love diner-type restaurants, and in a diner I always sit at the counter with the other “losers” who have no family to sit with. And in other restaurants that have a bar, I always sit at the bar. I don’t drink alcohol, but at a bar they are perfectly happy to serve you iced tea, root beer, lemonade, or anything else you want to drink. I even asked for a glass of buttermilk one time, and they went back in the kitchen and found me some!

For the past two days, I’ve had tremendously productive conversations with people at the bars of two restaurants.

On Saturday, I was at the original Dreamland BBQ in Tuscaloosa AL, and as I devoured my ribs and licked my fingers, I had delightful conversations with several of the bartenders as well as the patrons seated on both sides of me.

And yesterday, I had an amazing brisket sandwich (followed by — I kid you not — fried banana pudding!!!) at the bar of Squealer’s BBQ in Meridian MS. I found myself seated between a very interesting single young man (who immediately wanted to know why I would order UN-sweet tea “this far South”) and the wife of the bartender, who had come in with her college-age daughter to spend some time with her husband who was having to work on Mother’s Day (to which I said, “Awwww, that is so sweet”).

It was a most enjoyable time. We all traded stories, laughed, and even at one point, shed a tear over one of the stories the bartender’s wife shared about an incident during the Civil Rights struggle in Meridian. They all wanted to know what my connection to Meridian was, what I did for a living, why I lived downtown, and why I had worn “church clothes” to a BBQ joint. Well, to make a long story short, it was a profitable way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Having sat at the bar, these people now know about my web site, they have my business card with my contact info, and they know what I stand for. A good deal of seed was sown in those conversations.

In a restaurant today, I believe Jesus would not sit in a booth surrounded by His pious peers. Knowing He could talk to His friends later, He would sit at the bar by Himself and meet some strangers. That’s where He would interact with people outside the bubble of the family in which He was raised. And that’s where He would engage people in conversations that would lead to something significant.

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

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