The B.M.T. Stands For?

You and I have misjudged a sandwich or two in our lifetimes haven’t we?

I found out just the other day that I’m not too old for a P.B.&.J.. It was delicious!

I also learned recently that, for years, I’ve been misjudging the B.M.T. This is typical, but it certainly doesn’t have to happen.

The B.M.T. isn’t at all like the B.L.T.

You’ve no doubt had a B.L.T. sandwich. You probably found it to be delicious, mostly because of the B, the L, and the T.

If you’ve just recently arrived here from another country, or are here gathering information about our planet for The Big Giant Head, B.L.T. Stands for Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato- the key ingredients in the sandwich.

The B.L.T. isn’t just an easy nickname to remember, it’s also fun to say out loud.

Since it’s not usually on the menu, saying, “I’ll have the B.L.T.” makes you seem like a restaurant insider, akin to ordering an “Arnold Palmer” or a “Shirley Temple.”

Which returns me to the other popular, tasty, yet less aptly named sandwich: Subway’s “Italian B.M.T.”

The Subway Italian B.M.T. is the sandwich chain’s number one selling sandwich… Although most people would be hard pressed to explain exactly what the B, the M, and the T, stand for.

I’ve never ordered one because I can’t quite work out the ingredients myself:

Bacon, Mutton, and Tomato?
Beef, Mozzarella, and Turkey?
Bologna, Mollusk, and Turnip?

As disgusting as the above combinations sound (aside from the mutton, “when the mutton is nice and lean”) the sandwich has become popular because it is filled with:

and Ham.

Which not only sounds delicious, but also begs the question, “Why is it called the B.M.T. and not the P.S.H.?”

The answer lies at the intersection of “restaurant theme” and our “B.L.T. Baggage.”

The “New York Subway” theme of the restaurant chain is the primary reason that they named their most popular sandwich “The Brooklyn Manhattan Transfer.”

Customers who have ridden the New York Subway system would immediately recognize the words as something other than a series of seemingly random words, pressed together to create the name of something that sounds more like a 1970’s vocal group than a sandwich.

As Subway restaurant chains began spreading across America faster than a colobus monkey virus, the company changed the sandwich’s name to “Biggest, Meatiest, Tastiest” in response to the more outmoded moniker.

The idea was that loyal customers could still order by the initials.

The problem is that customers unfamiliar with the new sandwich chain, yet familiar with the B.L.T. were left to assume that the initials had something to do with the ingredients.

We have B.L.T. baggage.

This is why the typical suburban American has a difficult time explaining exactly what is inside one of America’s favorite sandwiches.

Which of course brings me to the local church.

Since the typical “church going” protestant American will change churches many times over the course of their life, often without changing their home address, they will arrive in your church prepared to compare and contrast their current experience against their past experiences.

Those past experiences, both the good and the bad, amount to “baggage.”

That baggage amounts to expectations of how your church will operate and perform.

Those expectations, even the good ones, have been set by someone else…

…who has a different theology than you .

…who doesn’t worship alongside you.

…who doesn’t know you.

…who doesn’t understand what your church is trying to accomplish or how you are hoping to accomplish it.

This is a recipe for unmet expectations, and unmet expectations are a recipe for conflict…

…Which is why church growth that comes from church transfer is usually both initially exciting, and detrimental to your church over the long haul.

This is why it’s essential for any church to have effective, and easily identifiable process to help new attenders discover what the church believes, hopes to accomplish, and how it is attempting to accomplish this.

You’re telling them up front, what your B.M.T. is, where they can find it, and how God has called you to make it.

This will allow them to know right away whether not they are in the right place.

If you don’t do this, they will be left to figure out whether or not they are in the right place by judging the accommodations, music, and teaching style against their discriminating tastes.

Which is typically what happens, but certainly doesn’t have to.

5 Responses to “The B.M.T. Stands For?”

  1. Darcy Hansen February 1, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    Sandwich topic…obviously leads to the church. I love it! First, weird, we went to Subway last night and I stood in line wondering what the BMT stood for. I had even worked at Subway for a summer after high school and still no clue. Second, being a transplant to OR we knew after 3 visits to WCC it would be our local church home. I think because we have moved (between states) a couple of times we knew to leave the baggage at the door and see what God had in store. Really, I find it best to toss the expectations-except solid Bible teaching-out the door and see what surprises God has in store. So much more fun that way! I am thankful for WCC and the excellent leadership. I think the new “classes” do help with the transition for people and I really appreciate your efforts in that endeavor. Thanks for the smile and the excellent sandwich info:)

    • Jon February 2, 2012 at 11:53 am #

      Thanks Darcy, we are so grateful for you guys! I agree with you on the expectations, I’ve found that God usually shows up where I least expect him… mostly because of my expectations.

  2. Erica August 7, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    This was a wonderful article! Great transition :) It is so true that we always carry our “faithful baggage” (if you will), if we happen to change churches. It’s taken a LONG time to attempt to get over the pastor comparisons and focus on what God has to say to us no matter who it’s through. My husband and I are trying to find a good Biblical-based church and it’s tougher than I expected! But I know He has a home for us :)

    Not to be “that guy”, but the BMT was actually the Boston Manhattan Transfer ;)

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