Monday, June 10, 2013

Guest Post: The Hidden Menu

Tom's on "Blog Vacation" over the summer and will return in the fall with enlightening and delightful posts. Meanwhile, guest bloggers are keeping the ship afloat. So check back each Monday for a new blog from our amazing guest bloggers!

Have you heard about the Panera hidden menu? The company launched this concept in their New York stores last fall, and now it is available in all the “bakery-cafes,” as they are called. The Panera hidden menu items are low-carb, high-protein meals designed to appeal to Cross Fit enthusiasts and people doing the Atkins diet. The menu also carries the obvious appeal of allowing customers to be insiders, to be “in the know.” It’s a brilliant marketing idea—make something exclusive, don’t talk about it, and before you know it you will have generated some buzz about your product.

As a church staff member sometimes I feel like I’m an insider to the “hidden menu” of Sardis. There are so many incredible things that folks here are doing in quiet ways that you would never know about from just sitting in a pew on Sunday or even reading the weekly email or the newsletter. But the secret is too good to keep to myself! So here are a few of my favorite Sardis hidden menu items:

Lora Zalaquett getting ready to serve 
this past Sunday at the Women’s Shelter.
Beans and Biscuits
There’s actually a line item in the Sardis budget titled simply “Beans and Biscuits.” That’s where the church buys #10 cans of green beans and cases of frozen biscuits to be served twice a month at the Salvation Army Women’s Shelter, alongside lasagna and other food items that are donated by the Sardis volunteers, who also prepare the meals. Sometimes instead of biscuits we get garlic bread, but you get the idea. It makes me think of the old song Beans and Cornbread Had a Fight. Have you heard it?

Lately the people who make the meals have asked me to increase our order of biscuits: a few weeks ago they ended up serving 200 meals instead of the 100 they expected. Think about that—every month through your gifts and volunteer work Sardis is feeding 200-400 hungry women and children at the shelter! It’s one of those programs that is so well-run and is of such longstanding that very often, unless you are involved, you don’t know about it.

Prayer Chain
Often here in the office we will get a call from someone asking for prayers. When that happens, the Prayer Chain is activated.  When a prayer request is received the receptionist calls the first name on the prayer chain, and keeps on calling down the list until a live person is reached. The office staff won’t leave a voicemail, because the goal is to protect confidentiality and also activate the prayer chain immediately. When the first person is reached they take down the information, then immediately say a prayer, before calling the next person on the “chain.”

What I love about the prayer chain is that it shows such a strong but simple faith in the power of prayer. It’s also something that just about anyone can do—even if you are homebound, a single parent, work 60 hours a week, are disabled, whatever—God hears your prayers, and you can pray on behalf of another person.

Office helpers
I have to give a plug to our faithful office volunteers as well. Again, if you are only here on Sunday you would never see these folks in action. Every time an insert falls out of your bulletin in worship, know that most likely Irene Hubbard is the one who stuffed that insert there in the first place. And when you receive your Communicator know that one of our volunteers assembled the issue and put the sticky tabs on the outside to hold it together in the mail. Having volunteers to help with many of these type of routine tasks instead of additional paid staff allows Sardis to continue to devote more resources to ministry.

I bet you know of some great “hidden menu” items at Sardis—what’s your best kept Sardis secret?

Jessica Otto has been on staff at Sardis for over six years. She started out as the part-time newsletter editor, and now is our Business Administrator. The rumors being spread by her daughter from the lectern during Minutes for Mission, that she “runs the church,” are unfounded.


  1. Gosh! This is better than any blog I ever wrote. I hope I get my spot back in the fall!

  2. Every time I take communion and see all the little cups full of juice I think, someone had to fill hundreds of those little cups and put them in the trays! I bet they never get thanked for that!

    1. Hey, great observation! I actually try each time we have communion to take a moment to walk over to the sacristy and personally thank those who have prepared the communion elements. I'm sure they would appreciate hearing anyone say, "Thanks."

  3. Great blog, Jessica! Love reading about things like this that happen at the church. And Tom, you're not off the hook that easily!

  4. What wonderful reminders of the ministries where Sardis members serve our community, in His name. Alma Jo Langston