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.