The Holiness of Undistracted Dining

How many times have you been sitting in a restaurant, glanced at a nearby table and observed a scene like this:

Be honest – how many times this picture resembled something at your own dinner table? (And if my wife is reading this: Staci, there is a reason why wives are never forced to testify against their husbands!)

It’s an all-to-familiar scene of people interacting with their mobile devices rather than conversing with one another. And many of us know what it’s like to be both the offender and the offended.

Well, one restaurant has decided to do something about it. Eva Restaurant, a 42-seat family style eatery located in Los Angeles, has begun offering  a 5% discount for customers who leave their cell phones at the reception desk during the entirety of their meal.

It’s a novel concept – one that nearly half of the restaurant’s patrons have taken advantage of. Even more interesting is the reasoning behind the offer. According to Chef Mark God, he simply thinks it will enhance the eating experience of his customers.

“Eva is really about family and being at home. That’s what we want to exemplify,” Gold says. “We just want people to connect again.”

In his mind, the meal is about more than just the food. It’s about the experience of sitting and eating together. You can find a video of Chef Gold talking about his motivation and people’s reaction to their discount here.

It got me thinking about that beautiful description of the church at the end of Acts 2:

“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

Teaching. Fellowship. The Lord’s Supper. Prayer. All things we would recognize as regular and vital to our Christian lives. But sharing in meals? At first it seems somewhat out of place. But the early church saw it as an integral part of their community.

Because the act of eating a meal together is a holy experience.

It seems that part of God’s desire for his church is for us to gather around a table on a consistent basis. Not just for the sustenance, but for the connection. It’s why my church’s tradition is to take communion together every week.

Even the picture of heaven in Revelation is that of God inviting us to gather around a table to enjoy a great wedding feast (Revelation 19:7-10).

Too many times I treat my meals as a small break or distraction from the important events in my day. How many times in a week do you work through lunch? Or grab something “on the go” while performing other tasks?

Perhaps I need to start seeing my mealtimes as something more important than calorie consumption. To start looking for opportunities to connect with someone else as we share some food and conversation.

And yes, to put down my cell phone so I can pay attention to my family. Because there is a holiness to undistracted dining.

Do you ever find yourself guilty of giving your attention to a mobile device or other technology during your meals? Have you enjoyed eating with your family or friends and known that it was a holy moment? Share your experience with us.

3 thoughts on “The Holiness of Undistracted Dining

  1. Saw this recently at Smashburger. Met friends for a black bean burger. three tables within my immediate eyesight while waiting on my friends. at all three were what appeared to be man wife and two kids (one with 3 KIDS) All three adults looking at phones. no discussion except to have the kids quiet down (they weren’t that loud and how can you tell at Smashburger) My friends and I commented on how sad that what should be a great time of sharing with 7 kids in total turned into a time of having them sit quietly and as still as possible while waiting on the meal and attention from parents. Of course all of my friends are of another generation. None of us had a cell phone out but that too is changing. I know you have all covered that before but it appears it is getting worse instead of better. Good for the restaurant who is giving an incentive to talk with one another with eye contact once again.

    We laugh about church folk eating togethe a lolt but i agree with you that it has a very good purpose. Sharing food brings about sharing of ideas and friendship. A cup of coffee is just better with a friend, Plus we make friendships over a meal. Lol is just not as satisfying as really laughing together outloud.

  2. We do laugh about church people eating together all the time, but I totally agree that it has a purpose. I have a friend who is in charge of small groups at his church who insists that all groups need to eat together. He agrees that there is just something special that happens when we share a meal together and connect.

    The scene you saw at Smashburger is all too common, I’m afraid. And I’m incredibly guilty of it at times. It’s sad when it’s parents ignoring kids, but it’s also couples failing to interact together or friends missing out on conversation.

    I think this goes beyond cell phones, too. The longer I live the more I am convinced that relationships with people are what is important. I just don’t want to miss out on chances to connect with other people (especially those closest to me).

    Thanks for sharing, Beverly.

  3. oh i had one more thing i forgot. You are seeing older people, like in my generation doing this more than ever but of course not so much. if you will look for an older (much older) couple eating out, you will find many instances of just quiet. I think my generation and the one following me are the last of those who are not afraid of silence. We need to teach that a little silence is good and not to be feared.

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