Kale and the Local Church

Written by Carl Greene

April 29, 2020

True or False:  Before 2012, the number one purchaser of kale used it for non-food purposes.  Granted, for you kale naysayers, it still not fit for human consumption.

This factoid is actually true—probably.  Based on some fact checking by NPR, it appears as though Pizza Hut had been the largest purchaser of kale in the United States until 2012.  The kale was for their salad bars, but as a garnish not intended for human consumption.[1]  Picture those salad bars with the tubs of veggies and condiments all surrounded by curly, leafy kale that was simply a disposable decoration.  Oh, how times have changed as we now have kale everything—from smoothies to ice cream to chips to pizza crust.[2]

Now, let’s connect kale to the local church.  Over the past weeks, what are some things that we are realizing had been a “garnish” to our church experience but are now a menu item?  Maybe it is livestreaming or recorded services.  Maybe it is a virtual Bible Study format.  Maybe it is the use of a phone tree.  Maybe it is intentional engagement through social media.  Our recent experiences have made it clear that our local church “kale” is not just to make us look like we are current—they are a key piece of how we reach people for Jesus Christ.

Many of us hope that the kale trend will come to an end—after all, isn’t there a reason that most people considered this plant largely inedible until 2012?  At the same time, kale is here.  Similarly, how we engage with the people around us has changed for this season, and while there will be numerous more changes over the upcoming weeks, our connection points with people will continue to be very different across months ahead.  At some level, kale is now a part of our church diet. 

Our opportunity here is intentionality.  Intentionality to find how “kale” in the local church can be used without overdoing it.  While we need to meet the needs of the current season, a good thing can be overdone.  Think kale eating competitions here—who really wants to eat over 25 cups of kale in 8 minutes?  Similarly, we can get so focused on our new church engagement that we lose sight of our core calling to be the church and what it means to live life in community with one another. 

While we recognize that “kale” is on the menu in the local church, let’s be intentional about it.  God is clearly at work in this season, and it is a privilege to join Him in the Kingdom work that He is doing.  We just need to remember that there is much more than kale to think about across the weeks ahead.

[1] Thank you to Nick Kersten, SDB Director of History and Education and keeper of amazing facts, for tipping me off to this amazing piece of trivia.

[2] You can listen to the NPR fact check segment at https://www.npr.org/2015/03/19/393823329/the-best-piece-of-trivia-you-learned-this-week-pizza-hut-edition.  Interestingly enough, Pizza Hut neither confirmed nor denied this kale factoid.

Grace and Peace,

Carl Greene, Executive Director, Seventh Day Baptist General Conference

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