What do you have to say to folks at Johnny’s Cafe?



Our MemberPartners will soon have a place of their own to gather, find out new information, play games, study the Word, and generally hang out. We will start with an open house so everyone can see what it’s like, but August 1, it will be available exclusively to our MemberPartners.

Here’s just a peek at what’s coming to our Johnny’s Cafe:

What would a diner be like without a jukebox so you can jive to those crazy tunes? We will be changing the songs periodically, but we will be kicking this off with songs from  — you guessed it — John’s album, “Johnny’s Cafe!”

johnnys cafe generic banner

If you’ve got nothin’ to say to folks at Johnny’s Cafe

You’ve got nothin’ to say at all

These two lines, easily missed, are a very big part of this song. The point here is all about communication. How well can you communicate with those who are different from you? The answer will tell you what you really know about what you have to say.

Today we live in a multi-fragmented society.  Just think about how many races, religions, languages, nationalities, ethnic groups, gangs, clubs, economic levels and secret societies are represented in your own extended neighborhood. The immigration struggle western culture is facing in Europe and America is caused largely by the overburdening of cultural fragmentation we already experience. Anyone looking for the security and comfort of a homogeneous society today is going to have a hard time finding such a thing. The typical evangelical church or Christian group in America is more likely than not to provide a place for that kind of comfort and security.

The typical evangelical church or Christian group in America is most likely going to contain white, English-speaking Christians from a relatively narrow socio-economic strata of society who speak a common Christian “language” that further separates this group from others. We Christians have our own evangelical lingo we speak that we all believe we understand (often we don’t, but that’s not the point here).

The comfort we might feel in church is not always spiritual — it can also be cultural. We’re all alike; we believe the same things; when we speak with the same spiritual words and images, we think we know what we mean. There is comfort in that especially in the increasingly-fragmented society we are experiencing today. Even the chasm between Christians and non-Christians can be huge.

Johnny’s Cafe has the cultural diversity of the neighborhood. You don’t know if you’re speaking to an atheist or a Muslim or a Buddhist or a Catholic unless you engage in conversation. This means that communication at Johnny’s is going to take some work. You have plenty to say to folks at Johnny’s Cafe, you just might not know how to say it — or if you do say it, there’s no guarantee that what people hear is what you meant to say.

So people who have nothing to say to folks at Johnny’s Cafe are people who simply don’t want to bother to work this out. They just want to stick to their booths and hope to get a waitress they can understand. And if you have nothing to say at Johnny’s café, you have nothing to say at all, because you are not willing to learn how to translate what you want to say into the cultural language of the person you are speaking to.

Faith is not about words and concepts. It’s not something you memorize, or parrot because you’ve heard it said so many times. It’s about meaning and understanding. If you have experienced the essence of your faith, you should be able to translate its meaning into anyone else’s “language” once you learn it. But that takes work. It takes listening skills and learning skills. It takes knowing Jesus personally, not just knowing about Jesus.

When it comes to communicating our faith, we can’t ask people to cater to us; we must come to them. That means we may be articulating our faith differently every time we tell it. And that would be good. It would mean that we know it intimately and know it well.

Those who have something to say at Johnny’s Cafe are willing to engage those who are different, and take the time and effort to figure out how to get what they believe across to someone else who probably is different, but nevertheless, a fellow human being loved by God.

What do you have to say to folks at Johnny’s Cafe? It kind of depends on who you know.


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8 Responses to What do you have to say to folks at Johnny’s Cafe?

  1. Larry says:

    Such an excellent post! Something those of us who are especially white American Christians need to hear and heed.

  2. John A Fagliano says:

    Very well said, John.

  3. peter leenheer says:

    John love your idea of common ground, it seems to me that is love. I can’t agree with my neighbor on everything but I love him/her, just like in my family. Love conquers all. After many years of criticism and complaining we switched to love and it makes all the difference.

  4. Mark D Seguin says:

    From Today’s Catch: “…something Christians have for a long time been very poor at – finding common ground with non-Christians.” And it’s so sad…

  5. kellief4 says:

    Love the part about “let’s find what we agree on first”! We always let our differences separate us before we can even communicate with the other person. Even Christians to other Christians!

  6. Mark D Seguin says:

    Also, hope & pray Marti’s knee surgery went well!

  7. John A Fagliano says:

    The link from today’s E-Mail is leading us here to yesterday’s Catch. I see that some people have commented here since today’s Catch isn’t up here.

    Anyway, finding common ground should not be hard since a lot of non-Christians would agree with what you said about the founding fathers.

  8. This is so Fabulous! Wish I stayed in America. Sounds like it’s going to be a great place. One day I will come to visit…

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