Now We’re Cooking: Is Your Church a Microwave or Crock-Pot?

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Microwave ministries might heat up quickly, but will they last?

A few weeks ago, The Lord called our microwave home. It had fought a good fight and finished its course and now resides in that great kitchen in the sky.

Of course, this gave my wife the perfect opportunity to remind me microwaves are bad for your health and she didn’t want to have one in the house in the first place. (The CSI team is currently investigating her involvement in the microwave’s death. Foul play is suspected.) 

Instead of running out to purchase a new microwave, we’ve been trying to make it without one. As someone who was raised in the “microwave generation,” the transition has been a bit difficult for me (to say the least). However, I’ve learned how to warm up my leftovers on the stove or oven, and have even become reacquainted with my old friend, Mr. Crock-Pot.

As I’ve been enjoying the succulent, juicy meats coming out of my Crock-Pot (as opposed to the crusty, dry stuff we pulled out of that square box with buttons on it), I realized the comparison between microwaves and Crock-Pots can teach us a lot about ministry and church growth.

Specifically, do you want to have a “Microwave Ministry” or a “Crock-Pot Church”?

Microwaves are good for a lot of things, chiefly convenience.

It’s so much easier to grab those leftovers out of the fridge, nuke them and have a hot meal in three minutes. However,  the microwave also has several drawbacks, which I believe can serve as a teaching tool for ministry.

Here are five reasons I believe we should seek to be a “Crock-Pot Church” instead of a “Microwave Ministry.”

1. Microwaves don’t cook anything.

Microwaves don’t cook or create; they just reheat.

Similarly, a “Microwave Ministry” is one that is not intentional about creating new disciples. It is content with “reheating” old Christians who have become dissatisfied with their former church or pastor. Microwave Ministries are built on the backs of “leftover” church-hoppers looking for a quick fix.

On the other hand, crockpots are designed to create new meals, and Crock-Pot Churches are intentional about reaching the unchurched and creating new disciples for the Kingdom of God.

2. Microwaves heat fast, but don’t hold heat for long.

It may only take a microwave three minutes to heat a plate of food, but you better eat that food quickly because it won’t stay hot for long.

Similarly, Microwave Ministries may burn hot and fast in the beginning, but they lack the sustainability for long-term growth and health.

Crock-Pot Churches, however, are able to sustain their heat for a long period of time. While it may take them longer to heat up initially, they don’t go cold all of a sudden. 

Microwaves measure time in minutes and seconds; crockpots measure in hours. There is no “one-minute” button on a Crock-Pot. They are designed for the long term—and so are Crock-Pot Churches.

Tejado Hanchell Dr. Tejado W. Hanchell (TWH_PhD) is a 21st century “leadership liaison” whose passion is to help connect people and organizations to their purpose. He is a coach, consultant, and counselor and is a leading strategist on leadership and succession planning for churches, non-profit organizations and corporations. Dr. Hanchell has over 15 years of leadership experience and brings a wealth of wisdom to help enhance lives and increase productivity. He currently serves as the Senior Pastor of Mount Calvary Holy Church of Winston-Salem, NC (“The Church Committed to do MORE”) – the “Mother Church” of the Mount Calvary Holy Church of America, Inc., where Dr. Hanchell also serves as General Secretary and International Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministry under the leadership of Archbishop Alfred A. Owens, Jr.

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  • Dami

    Great thought. I like the metaphor and I’d keep those salient truths youve shared in mind.

  • Apostle

    This is a perfect description of what the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ should and should not be. you have truly captured the essence of what the world really sees. Great title also

  • Ryan

    Physically speaking, I use the mircowave, crock pot, stove oven and toster oven, or none for salads and sandwiches. I like the metaphore. I wish you had added the stove and oven to this. Everything has its specific use. I’d like to see cookies from a crock pot. Honestly, my stove and oven are my main tools for making meals. My crock pot is for stews and chili. My mirocwave isn’t used a whole lot. I’m not a boxed dinner kind of house hold.

  • Michael Wilson

    What a great metaphor. Earlier in my ministry I wanted the microwave effect. Now that I have been at this for a while, and I am planting a new church, I am taking the crockpot approach. Great article!

    • Michael

      I agree with you Michael! Some people think that slow growth isn’t growth at all, but that is so inaccurate. Slow means that something is happening even though it’s at a decreased rate of speed. Slow allows people to gel together…think crock-pot chili, soup, or stew…all those flavors come together so well over time.

  • Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Hodges

    Ditto…great metaphor to a good point.

  • Dawn Moonspirit

    Wow i loved reading this makes you think. Thanks for sharing this i use it all a microwave the oven the toaster oven i don’t really use a crock pot though. i liked the metaphor To get a cheap microwave go to the goodwill or salvation army or Walmart thrift stores shh i didn’t tell you that ha-ha.

  • John Irwin

    Wow, what a great concept! This is so true. If you want a church with true growth it has to be this way.

  • Pastor Tom

    Thanks for your insight and humor, Dr. Hanchell. May God help us to enact that crock-pot functionality in our churches.

  • Ben

    So Mr. Hanchell, You are a coach, you didn’t say what you coached, I am wondering what team did Jesus was on? or was he a republican or a democrat? What if I liked microwave in stead of Crock-pot. what is the theme of this article? Do you Mr. Hanchell drive a car? did any one in the time Jesus was on earth maybe fly a plane if so what kind did Jesus and His apostles use? i wonder If the apostle argued over who had shot gun when they and Jesus went riding down the road? allow me to ask you Mr. Hanchell in what time period are you living in? What are Biblical days where they yesterday or today, or maybe tomorrow? I am sitting here thinking, OK, crock-pots do there job slow and easy so what, in some tradition the pot has cooked so slow they haven’t moved in time still wearing the same old clothes the same tired way of living is this glorifying God or they glorifying them selves. I will bet you Mr.Hanchell you have a nice house with air conditioning unite and a furnace to keep you warm in the winter. I just wonder.In Christ Jesus Merry Christmas and Happy new year. Ben. P.S. If you have time please respond thank you.

    • Gary

      I think you have totally lost the essence of this article.

      • Ben

        Good morning Gary&Michael Merry Christmas to you and your families and a happy new year. thank you for your responses, I do not think so when we were younger we were full of life so we used micro-wave oven now that we are older we are supposed to stop and use crock pots. My point is this life and things change in a heart beat. what was good than isn’t good today when we stop and reflect on our yesterdays we find a lot of if’s what we could have done this or that to late it is history.{ I like to eat good food no matter where it was cooked].The metaphor of micro-wave don’t hold heat and the crock-pot does not has nothing to do being baptized in the Holy Ghost and with fire. it is Gods fire that keeps the heat gone and it does not lose its intensity. The point i want make is this let yesterday go, live today in Christ Jesus . Yours in our lords name Jesus Christ. Ben

        • Anonymous

          Umm, yes, you *did* miss the point of the article, because the points you’re making have nothing to do with the article.

          Free country, though, I guess…

        • Not So Casual Observer

          You sound like a ‘disciple’ of a leader who is featured on this site often whose followers like to do nothing more than argue every little point of every single conversation with anyone who does not espouse exactly what they think the way they think it then try and make it palatable by wrapping it up in a Christianese closing – Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you

          Best to just ignore and not engage in pointless conversations about “Sabbaths” and “new moon observances” if you get my drift.

    • Michael

      Wow, Ben. You may have missed Dr. Hanchell’s point…

  • lrfoster

    Really interesting application! That you for your time and insights.

  • Roger Jenks

    One of the other benefits of crockpots is that they allow flavors to mingle to create something better. Something the church needs to allow its people to do over time as well.

  • RevChristina

    Thanks for the metaphor. This is also a gentle way to remind people to slow down. I look forward to sharing it with some friends and colleagues who live at full speed.

  • Joseph

    You righly heat the nail on the head,many churches today grow by birth and tranfer of christians from other churches. Soul winning has been relegated to the background.True church growth comes by commitment to aggressive soul winning for christ and proper structures for assimmilation.Hatchell,your Crock- Pot principle is very insightful piece.

  • yokedbychrist

    You’re hilarious brother! Easy to remember article. Thanks for sharing these thoughts. May the Lord help us to obey him in the way we do ministry.

  • Dr. Bernadette Kelley

    What a great analogy! GOD’s plan for our lives is a Crock Pot experience as well. As a leader for the Senior Saints of my church, I found those who have taken the time to learn, grow, and serve have a brighter glow that shines brighter than those who come in with a flash and dash approach. Thank you and GOD bless.

  • Jeff Ford

    Love this analogy. . .or metaphor? Great comparison. Got me thinking. Maybe there’s a sense where our emphasis ought to be “Crockpot Church” AND “Microwave Ministry.” The essence of living out our biblical purposes as “church”. That is slow-cooking crockpot. Launching various ministries, some short-term, others long-term; that ought to be more microwavish. Thanks for the thought. Also, I’d suggest a microwave at the office!

  • I am worthy


  • Mar Komus

    Very good article! Good analogy, too! Another one that has good application in many ways is fireworks vs campfires. That’ll preach in several contexts, too (marriage, job, etc.). Thanks for your words, brother!

  • Keeping it Real!

    Great comparision of useful items in our kitchen.

  • Mark Tan

    This analogy has been stretched too thin.

    There are now PLENTY of more efficient microwaves than what the author has described.

    There are now PLENTY of excellent recipes to COOK using a microwave.

    Plenty of crock pots out there too.

    Crock pots without enough (living) waters (see what I did there?) leads to an equally dehydrated food and it’ll be too late to do anything about it once found out.


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