Unintended Consequences

Jamie Jenkins


Does this make sense to you?

Today I stopped at a fast food restaurant and ordered a salad. I know it might not make sense that I would choose this kind of eating place for a salad but that is not the point here. When asked what I wanted to drink, I asked for a cup of water. The person taking my order said, "Sorry, but we can't give you a cup of water. You have to buy it."

"OK," I said. "How much is it?"

"One dollar." For a cup of water?

"Never mind," I said. "I don't mind paying a few cents for the cup but a dollar for water. I will not drink anything."

I could buy a $1 soft drink and have as many refills as I want. I guess I could drink a gallon so long as I kept filling up my original cup. And if I wanted to, I assume I could share that drink with others and together we could drink gallons. All because I had paid $1 for the first serving.

I suspect that the expectation was that I would buy a soft drink or "upgrade" my water choice and purchase a bottle of water. Increased revenue was probably the goal of this policy. Instead, I resolved that I would eat somewher else enxt time.

There may be something that I am missing here. Perhaps some customers would ask for water if it was free and then go to the self serve fountain and get soft drinks that they had not paid for. There may be other concerns that I do not understand but I think the restaurant management used poor judgment in making the decision to charge for water.

Before I got too far along with my dissatisfaction with the restaurant I started thinking about decisions we make in the church. Often there are unintended consequences to our decisions. Are we conscious of the effect upon the work of the church and the kingdom of God when we establish budgets, employ and assign staff, set policies, design and build facilities, and make many other decisions?


Are we "penny wise and pound foolish"? Do our decisions include or exclude people? Are we generous with our resources or are we hoarding them for ourselves? Does our action reflect the attitude of Christ or is it selfish?

Do we invite people in or keep people out? Are we "winning a battle but losing the war?"

Does the way we "do church" make sense?

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