On Saturday night, after returning home from dinner, my wife and I sat down to watch a movie, "Big Night," that we had heard a number of people raving about. Even though it's been around since 1996, I had never even heard of the movie until about 3 months ago, but we decided to give it a shot since one of our favorite actors, Tony Shalhoub (TV's Monk), is in it. In addition, a number of other fairly well-known actors are in the movie: Stanley Tucci, Isabella Rossellini, and the guy who played Bilbo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings.
The movie is about 2 brothers (Shalhoub and Tucci) who have come to this country from Italy and opened an Italian restaurant. However, because their great attention to detail in food preparation and the quality of ingredients that they use, they are forced to charge higher prices than the restaurant across the street. As the movie opens, we discover that their little restaurant is in financially dire straits. And the temptation becomes, for Tucci's character, to cut corners here and there and to become more like the restaurant across the street, catering to the desires of the public.
If you are a big fan of this movie, I'm sorry but I just wasn't that impressed. Maybe it was the slow pace or the sudden ending. I'm not sure. However, I did think that the movie was a good picture of what we face in Reformed churches today. The fact of the matter is that the faithful, confessionally Reformed church is a lot like that little Italian restaurant. We're not big, but we do focus on the quality of our product: Sermons that reflect Scripture and point to Christ, worship that is centered on God, members who are growing spiritually, etc. And the temptation becomes: Should we try to cater to more people? Should we try to get more people in the door by giving them what they want? Or should we focus on what we do best: Word and Sacrament ministry without all the frills and programs?