Men and breakfast

men and breakfast 2

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.’

About Doug

I have been a writer ever since fifth grade when I won second prize in a “prose and poetry” contest. I am also a Presbyterian pastor, and for several years toward the end of my career I lived and worked in Zürich, Switzerland. I am now retired and live just north of Holland, Michigan, along the lake.

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8 Responses to Men and breakfast

  1. Kathy Smith April 9, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    Interesting blog, Doug!
    I just came from my monthly breakfast–with another woman pastor. Minus the hazing, of course, which I don’t understand… 🙂

    • Doug April 9, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

      Kathy, men are not complicated.

  2. Don Wagner April 9, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    Hi Doug, so what I hear you saying is that men of the church formed small groups long before they became ever popular in our churches.


    • Doug April 9, 2014 at 11:22 am #

      Don, I’m pretty sure women would claim the small group thing as theirs. Sorry.

  3. Marion Robbins April 9, 2014 at 10:34 pm #

    Greetings, Doug,
    Re: Men’s breakfast. I’m sure everything you say is true but allow me to add, from my perspective, another possible incentive for the 6 a.m. breakfast gathering. To date and after fifty-five years of marriage, the only breakfast I have ever seen Rufus make is his morning cereal-in-a-bowl recipe and I kinda’ think Sammy’s menu just might trump that!

    • Doug April 10, 2014 at 12:26 am #

      It’s good to hear from you, Marion. Another good point. Men with otherwise good eating habits tend to eat dreadful breakfasts when they’re with other men.

  4. Marguerite Williams April 27, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

    The breakfast picture above makes me homesick for the U.S. (I’m living in Switzerland for a few month, 3 villages down from Meilen). Looks like “Denny’s” 😉

    • Doug April 27, 2014 at 11:56 pm #

      I’m glad someone likes that picture because it gives me a queasy stomach! I almost took it down, but won’t now. Thanks for commenting!

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