The mustard and the ketchup
There is a taste in ketchup like no other. It can be made better or worse and the sales will match, but there is seldom a “different” ketchup, and when there is, it is of nominal consequence in sales compared to the tsunami that is the standard fare of the French fries and hotdog.
Mustard though is different. It can be boutique, and tinkered with, and make a name of its own and produce sales worthy of note. So you have Dijon and in the realm of Dijon you have Grey Poupon. Then there is the spicy Guldens’ or the garlic or any form of combinations that make up a whole section in the market.
But not ketchup, and the question is why? So lots of money is spent on trying to find out, and test, and research preferences. Here is what they have concluded. If you change the recipe in minor ways the taste turns to “strikingly noticeable”, that means that you notice a taste, and then grow weary of it, leading to a down turn in sales. Or you can use better products (tomatoes) and change the mouth feel and slice off a segment that prefers that texture and then sell to those three that want it... not a good market. Or you can degrade the quality and lower the price and devalue the market and irritate your clients, not a good strategy either. So where is the balance?
In the mouth you have 5 sensory triggers, Sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami. Every one know the first four and can name an item that gives you that sensation. It is the fourth that you understand but can’t describe well. It is the combination of mouth feel and the comfort found in good chicken soup and missing in weak chicken soup. It isn’t the chicken flavor or the garlic, but rather the thickening starchy heft of the noodles and the stringy parts of the boiled chicken and the herbs and the aroma and the combination that they bring to a days steeping and then reheating for the meal that you then say “wow”... and you know. That is what ketchup does. It hits the vinegar for the bitter, the syrup for the sweet, the herbs and spices for the sour and salt for the salt and combination for the umami. It is the type of paste that makes the mouth feel provided by the tomatoes, and you can tell the difference between ripened and non ripened when you put it on the fries... You don’t know it is a ripe tomato or not, you know it is not quite right, and that is the difference...
With Mustard it is different. You actually like the taste of yellow mustard in your potato salad and know when it is missing, but you would not make your chicken salad with it. But you would with Dijon. Because it is darker and has some wine in it and it is tangy in a different way. It works, with some grapes and apples and walnuts, in a taste that brings raves, but not with yellow mustard. If you like tobasco in your ketchup you will have to put it there, but when it comes to mustard, they will make it any way you like and sell a bunch of it. Because it is a condiment and can be an ingredient, it stands alone in your mouth and you are ok with that. To refine the point you can even describe the mustard in terms of flavors like spicy or warm, but you describe the ketchup in terms of quality like runny or thick. And so we now have the simile and now will use it.
The church presents the whole as the combination of the ketchup and the mustard. Some like a lot of one and not the other, some like the other and not the one. So it goes, but what does it mean? Well, the ketchup is noticeable by its quality, and the church is too. Some are runny and some are thick. Some are high quality and sell few, some are low quality or to significantly pointed in a single flavor and you soon grow weary of it. So to apply this: Thick is bound in tradition for the sake of tradition and others are so loose as to remove all forms of tradition and substance to the point of watery red stuff on your plate and you feel icky for some reason. And then you perchance happen in to a wedding or funeral or different church and taste the ketchup of the message and then say “Wow”, because you know that you know. So if the message is to runny it has no substance, and it is lacking the umami. If it is to stiff it is to much for the normal person and they will stay away because they don’t feel worthy of the quality. Shame is found in its midst.
So what is right? That is an incorrect question. You see, as a child you want a certain taste and you will now it when you get it. Or you will know it when it is missing if you have had it. So if you have been at a church for a while and the pastor leaves and a new one comes, you will know and then you will choose to stay and see if they can survive long enough to adapt, or to see if they can get you to adapt and grow... but you will know. Sometimes it is the handshake, and sometimes they will actually have to speak, and still you will know. It is then the question, “but what will I do?”, and that is where you start.
But for the issue of mustard? Well, mustard is the emotion to the ketchup’s intellect. Mustard is boutique and ketchup is pedestrian. So how does it work? Some like to control the songs, or the paint or the carpet. Some like to control the temp and some the attire. Some like to be low brow and some high brow, but most have an opinion and some like to speak out. So when “group culture” is alike, no problems. Most like the same politics, or hair style or music and the few that don’t are tolerated to a point of pain and then asked or cajoled into changing or leaving. When a church reaches a place that the umami is the right combination of blended peoples and stabile baseline and resilient preaching and missionary out reach and history and hope, others will notice. They will notice when they come to the funeral or the wedding or the shower or the pageant or the program or outreach that touches them, and they will know. They will know and they will now know they know and maybe for the first time... and they will say “wow”. They will not be able to tell you what in specifics, but there is the combination that is the time of steeping, and the sense of purpose and the baseline of heft, and mouth feel and the umami of the combination that is beyond words. And then they will tell others. And they will bring others and they will bring more and the group will grow.
The group grows on the umami and is enhanced by the mustard. To do otherwise is called an “event” church. This means that they came for the evangelist and stayed or not for the local pastor and congregations. They came for the pizza, or the movie, or the singer and left when the pizza was gone or the songs were done. It is an event that had a gathering, not the body of Christ that gathers for good. This is not necessarily bad ketchup, low quality perhaps, but rather it is spicy or sweet mustard and it will not sustain.
So what are we to do? How does the mustard fit in the meal? It is like this, your group needs to determine what is its purpose, and then drive the program flexibly through that mission. So if your umami is good, but some like more mustard, or a different type of mustard and they will come and go to try and see if they fit. So sometimes the music is flexible and they will take part of it and leave part of it. They will indulge the edges of the mustard so they can enjoy the ketchup.
So what about the growth? There comes a point where the mass of any group of mustard preferences will form a sub group that pushes a desire. If the management team is in front of this they will start a new Sunday school class to give them a place to enjoy their flavors, or a small group that is directed to their needs, or perhaps a second service to have a place to express their creative side. All of these are boutique mustards. And part of this is scary to the ones that only want ketchup. So they need someone to give their “ketchup world” a place to meet their fries.
You cannot use the model in parts. All of this is found in any single class or service. Some are wanting more, or only veggies, and so let them go find some version of ketchup some place else and they will perhaps be the only one that likes that ketchup. Don’t change your world to meet the one, especially when a boutique mustard would have done the job.
The mission then is this, understand the baseline that is the blend of the fortitude of the message, the love of the people, and service of the congregation to others. This is the ketchup. Allow a place for the yellow mustard and for the ones that need boutique give them a place and a time for that as well. It will give them a reason to keep the blend in place, a time to be creative, and a safe place to stay. The body will be better for it, and they will be glad to grow with you.
Popular posts from this blog
In Times Like These “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” or so the poet says. Part of the problem that we confront is that we are new to this part of history, so it feels unknown and scary. When you are confronted with the “unknown” it is called chaos, and out of that comes truth and awareness that is new to you. It is found when a child is taken to meet a new friend and they are wary of all that is new. It isn’t new, really, though it may be to the child or to us. This may be the year of the internet millionaire or the Covid small business death, but it is your year. Alone in the way that it is yours, and yet collective in that many can tell the same story. It is the time of our lives. Your story is simply that, your own. From the beginning of your life through the teaching and experiences that brought you too today, it is specific. Good or bad, long or short. Well-seasoned, with history as perspective or simply the musings of the narcissist absorbed with you
Crucible Why is it always a surprise how hot things get and so quickly? Crisis builds slowly and then all of a sudden it is intense and endless. The story is always the same. Things are simply going the way things go, and then three separate decisions combine and all hell is raging and your hair is on fire. It comes as a surprise, or I would have been prepared. Why am I surprised, again? Friends suck, that is why it hurts. That is why you are not prepared. That is why you were guarded. How then did it happen again? What did you miss, that let them get past the barriers? The heat will not let up, this I know from the last time. Ok, the last several times… Here I am, in the vessel filled with the debris of many bad decisions. Good parts and bad. Broken and whole. The heat will melt it all into a soup that will easily pour into a new mold. First will come the flux that grabs what I thought was important and take it away. It has happened time and again and it is the same eve
On Divorce This is not a complete work, but a few observations. It is not all personal, but it is all true. It is about the parts that move, and the ones that don’t. The issue, at its core, is that of failure. Failure to listen, failure to tell. Failure to hear what is not said, and to do things that drive you to the edge of hope or fear. The church doesn’t know what to do with it. Society doesn’t know what to do with it. Those that are adamant about how correct they are, are the most afraid of it happening to them. Our friends are unclear about what to do with it when it happens. Most of the time it is only a trail of loss and the crumbs of our past strewn along as we go. The rending of the fabric of our relationships and lives is a sound you cannot not remember. You can imagine the lamb that has it's tail docked and has to re-orient its life and adapt to the new reality. No one wins, but some have hope of the pain stopping, and the possibility of
The music It sat there, in the corner. Hasn’t been moved in years. The man that used it is gone, but the memories are still resonating, vivid and clear. I watched him play the accordion and was in awe of the music that he made. The polkas, of course, and the many happy dance tunes. But at times, in the most incredible ways, the tune would become something that would penetrate deeply and with great soul and the curious mix of disconnection. You would wonder “how can that tune come from that machine?” The accordion is not generally a mournful and melancholic machine, and yet there it was. The sound that pulled you in rather than pushed you around the dance floor. The box is curious, and how it came to be is a quirk of history and need and serendipity. It was used on the ships in the days of sail, and languid winds, to pass the time. That version was small and quite limited, but the function was the same. A few buttons on one end, to change the pitch
Personal Pain The transformation of the pain in our life into something that can be processed is quite a challenge. The notion that it can be converted into a power source is not even a thought to most people and if mentioned is a laughable one at best. Pain is to be endured at the least and avoided if possible. Inoculation and hedging against future blows is the road most traveled… Personal pain is a reality of ownership. Not for everyone to know, these are items taken out of their own private box for a very select group. Sometimes it is a group of only one. This is the pain that is scary, sticky, and sometimes not yet congealed into a shape that can be corralled with adjectives. Real and very powerful, this is pain that is a “slow to heal wound”. Like a broken rib or shin splints, the pain is inside and in certain activities debilitating. But the knowledge that it cannot be shared is a wound just as real. This is the boomerang pain. Residual
The purpose of this blog is to send out a piece of writing from time to time, mostly each week. It is a path of randomness (the rabbit trail) and yet is connected to many other parts (the spiderweb). In this case the web is three dimensional (more random connections) and has at times been a place some people have gotten lost trying to follow the trail... I hope you will be fine with having to start over and see if you get the point. Most of these writings are personal, I have never published any, and are simply a framework for you to put your own story into. If you were to print them most are 2 pages or so, so they are a reasonable quick read. That doesn't mean they are simple, just short. While personal, they are not a diary, polemic, or a screed about some political high-horse issue, but then too, neither should the comments be that either. The best part of these is that if any particular one is of little value to you, I am fine with it. Simply come back and see if ther
In the Dark I wrote this as a description of people going through the process of recovery and starting again. We all move through that at our own pace, and can't know the cadence of another. Enjoy. There is a place underwater that the light stops penetrating. It is different depending on the part of the ocean that you go to, but the point of no light is still there. To go to this part of the dark water with a sub and turn on the lights you will find some creatures that thrive in these waters. The individual adaptations will be just that, individual. The types of actions are also very specific. The pictures of these creatures are amazing. To get to a place that is so deep that light is gone is quite of journey. The path to this level requires more than a casual step into a part of life that is not generally frequented. Mostly it is avoided. The parts of this depth that are different is that the pressures are truly phenomenal. The lack of plants and the nee