What is it about men and breakfast?
Sounds like the start to a Seinfeld routine, I know, but – seriously – what is it with men getting together with other men over breakfast?
Sure, men eat lunch and dinner together too, and they might even meet for a beer in between, but over the years the church seems to have found lots of success by scheduling meetings for men very early in the morning.
There must be some prehistoric root to all of this. Maybe there are primitive cave paintings showing men at an early morning campfire drinking coffee and eating dinosaur eggs with sausage and home fries.
Early in my ministry, for no less than 13 years, I attended a men’s breakfast every Friday morning at 6:00. The men were so proud of themselves for getting up at that hour that they called their group the Too Early and Short Stack Society (with ‘short stack’ referrring to the pancakes on the menu).
The idea behind starting so early was that the men could have breakfast and still get to work on time. Never mind that most of the men in this particular group had been retired for years. Even a breakaway group that decided to meet at 7:00 (in the same restaurant) could not budge the diehards who insisted on keeping the 6.00 start time. After so many years the start time had become a matter of pride.
I’ve been getting up early to attend men’s breakfasts for so many years that I think of it as unremarkaable – until this morning. Today I saw what we were doing with new appreciation and insight.
I got up early, walked the mile or so to the train station, got off the train at the main station in Zurich, and then hurried over to The Hotel Montana (which, I swear, sounds like the title of a bad novel). I arrived with several minutes to spare, but – and this has been consistently true over the years – most of the other men were already there. (Late arrivals at a men’s breakfast are usually subjected to the kind of hazing that women would find hard to understand, which of course is the point.)
So, this morning I sat down and looked at the men around me.
It’s a younger group than I’m used to. Most are young fathers. Most would not attend a Bible study in my office, but would gladly show up for a manly breakfast and a brief, inspirational talk about faith, sprinkled liberally with hearty male-type laughter. Most of the men are even willing – touchingly so – to engage in brief one-on-one conversations about a point made by the speaker.
Today, at the prompting of the speaker, I spoke with the man next to me (whom I hardly know) about how difficult it is to ‘bounce back’ in faith from one of life’s many setbacks. I was startled by how honest both of us were.
And then I realized that men need and want this, as long as we can call it ‘getting some breakfast with the guys at church.’