Or at least that’s what InterVarsity members at the College of William & Mary say at our biannual Pancake House.
Now, I’ve been to pancake breakfasts before (mostly sponsored by my mom’s Kiwanis club back home). But they’ve proven nothing like this. At InterVarsity’s Pancake House, there’s no cost, no catch, nothing required. Held each semester on the last day of classes (a.k.a. “Blowout”) in the University Center from 9:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m., a substantial amount of visitors arrive drunk, yet Pancake House takes them in unconditionally. And with its pleasurable possibilities of chocolate chip pancakes, orange juice, a raffle, and live student bands, a good time is had by all. We even set up a table featuring the question, “Why Pancake House?” so that curious customers can inquire just that. One friend has a tendency to reply, “Well, Jesus is like these pancakes: his love is good and completely free.”
As followers of Christ then, we’re called to extend to others the same good, free, and unconditional love that Christ extends to us. Judgment must fly out the window. Holier-than-thou superiority complexes? Gone. “He must become greater; [we] must become less” (John 3:30). Even the best praise bands and preachers must sometimes get traded in for pancakes – or for a dance performance, a sports game, whatever connects with the character of an individual or community exactly as they are (not as we’d like them to be).
Paul expounded on this form of ministry-by-immersion in his letter to the church in Corinth by saying:
“Though I am free and belong to no one, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible….I have become all things to all people so that by all means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
I don’t think Paul is suggesting that we become flighty, indecisive creatures of conformity. Rather that we carry our message – the message of the gospel – everywhere we go, armed with the readiness and willingness to creatively share what we have in the right ways for those who need to receive it. We conform not ourselves or our story but our mode of storytelling – even if our mode of storytelling comes drenched in maple syrup.
Julia Powers is an English major at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA, currently serving as a small group leader and as her chapter’s prayer coordinator.