Thinking Out Loud

July 21, 2009

The 100 Mile Church Diet

Filed under: Church — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:08 pm

Next Church

The first thing you need to know is that the title of this post is referencing a book, The 100 Mile Diet which challenges the notion that people living in temperate climates should expect to eat strawberries in the middle of winter, and that if they do consume such things, it is at great cost to the environment and its resources.

Here’s how Wikipedia defines the book:

The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating (or Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally) is a non-fiction book written by Canadian writers Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon. In the book, the authors recount their experiences, including motivations and challenges, on restricting their diet, for one year, to include only foods grown within 100 miles of their residence. Beginning in March 2005, with little preparation the urban couple began only purchasing foods with ingredients they knew were all from within 100 miles. Finding little in grocery stores, they relied on farmer’s markets and visits to local farms. Staples in their diet included seafood, chicken, root vegetable, berries, and corn. They lacked cooking oils, rice, and sugar. They preserved foods for use in the winter but ended with extra supplies.        You can keep reading this article here.

It’s possible where you live, this is called “the local food diet,” or in terms of the transportation issues, is related to “the low carbon diet.”   A person who keeps to this diet may be referred to as a “locovore.”   You’ll also hear the word “sustainable” used much in this context.

…Driving seven hours to get to church on the weekend was excessive, to say the least.    It was also worth it, as I made clear in yesterday’s post.   We enjoyed our visit to Mars Hill immensely, and obviously, there’s nothing quite like that we passed on the way.

We have no relatives in west Michigan, and while we did do some shopping, the centerpiece of our trip was that one church service; something border guards on both sides of the Blue Water Bridge probably found somewhat amusing when I told them.   We had tried previously to combine a Mars Hill trip with a larger family vacation, but hey, Mr. Bell is entitled to a week off in the summer.

We also know people who have gone great distances to hear a particular speaker, or attend a particular conference or festival.    As a teen, I attended the first Creation festivals in Pennsylvania.   Some friends that lived here would rave about trips to the Billy Graham Conference Center, aka The Cove.    I’d love to do that sometime.     We drove to Willow in Chicago a few years back; a trip that seemed somewhat ‘blessed’ compared to others we’d taken, at least in terms of the things that can go wrong on road trips.    We know a man who flew his own airplane to cities where Benny Hinn was conducting his crusades.

But we also know people in larger cities who will drive by dozens of smaller churches to get to the one megachurch that suits their tastes.   Conversely, there are people who forsake the churches in our own community for little-known, somewhat esoteric places of worship located in distant places.

It’s been said that the best church is a church you can walk to.    I do get the wisdom of that statement, and I think there is value to having shared experience with local schools, auto repair clinics, supermarkets, etc., with the people you worship with on Sunday; not to mention the ability to invite people in those same contexts to be part of what you do each sabbath.

But sometimes, people “settle” for local churches, when the thing that really excites them is the idea of attending a church in a distant place.    There definitely is something special happening at Willow and at Mars Hill and at dozens of other places that are not located anywhere near here. We’d be willing to drive a shorter distance if we could be guaranteed the same quality, the same content, the same authenticity, the same commitment to spiritual excellence.

I’d also be prepared to commit if there were a group of people who are aiming for those goals, but perhaps not 100% there yet.  It may not be as big, or attract enough people for two services, or have a pastor who is a published author or hosts his own video series.   It just has to have the same attitude.

The thing that sets Mars Hill apart is that they’re not about to play “status quo church.”

For us, that was worth a couple of days, several tankfuls of gas, and a couple of nights in a hotel. Absent other considerations, I’d turn around and do the same thing next weekend.

  • Have you ever driven a long distance to attend a single church service?
  • If you had unlimited time and money, and a reliable form of transportation, what churches would top your list to visit?
  • British readers:   We North Americans can be obsessed about certain church ‘hot spots.’   Are there similar ‘must see’ churches in the U.K.?   Australia?   New Zealand?
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1 Comment »

  1. the sight of the traffic doesnot excite, something to be said for staying local, and perhaps making something happen on the local basis, if this means going to somewhere else for inspiration, so be it , as long as we are still active in our “small corner” See our church build http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIh0PvNlJ4E

    Comment by steve benner — July 23, 2009 @ 2:13 pm


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