When we think of Christian ministry, most of us picture church buildings and pastors and bands or choirs. We might envision missionaries and youth workers and Sunday school teachers. Perhaps we see Christians feeding the hungry or building homes with Habitat for Humanity. All of these are quite fine. They’re vital elements of Christian ministry in today’s world.
But, throughout the world today, Christians are breaking the ministry mold. They’re doing amazing, unusual things to serve the Lord and love people. They’re envisioning a whole new way of being Christian in today’s world. I find this thrilling.
For example, the Houston Chronicle recently ran a front-page story on the Eat Gallery, a restaurant located at 4420 Almeda Road in Houston. This restaurant features the creations of seven, highly-talented chefs. It is a gallery in the sense that the dishes they create are works of art.
So far, nothing I’ve said about the Eat Gallery is particularly surprising, though it sounds like a fun place to eat. But here’s where it gets interesting. The Eat Gallery in a non-profit enterprise of The Awakenings Movement, a Christian ministry “where dreamers become believers, and believers become doers.” The Awakenings Movement was founded by Marlon Hall, whom the Houston Chronicle describes as a “Christian minister.” Indeed, Marlon has served in pastoral roles in churches. But, when I met him at Laity Lodge last year, he described himself as a “cultural architect.” This is a brilliant way to envision the role of a Christian minister. In fact, the Apostle Paul referred to himself as a “wise architect” of his Christian communities (sophos architekton, 1 Cor 3:10). Marlon is following in Paul’s footsteps.
The purpose of the Eat Gallery, in addition to providing works of art for people to eat, is to give master chefs with great potential the chance to do their work and develop their vocations. The Chronicle describes Marlon as “a Christian minister who decided the best way to serve the Lord is to help people find their calling through their work.” Moreover, the Eat Gallery contributes to the life of the city, especially the neighborhood where it is located. It is an expression of the core purpose of The Awakenings Movement:
The mission of AM is to be a place where dreamers become believers who become doers. Established September 11, 2005, AM is a community of artists, entrepreneurs, young professionals, and students who seek out those who are deemed “less than” or “outsiders” in the city of Houston with the goal of training and developing them to realize and live out their God-given dreams.
Kudos to Marlon Hall for his creativity and vision. He is breaking the ministry mold, charting new directions for Christians who really want to make a difference for Christ in this world.