Barbecue & our Faith-Based Family

Written by: Byron Cogdell

I love Bar-B-Que! As far back as I can remember I have had a love/love relationship with it. It was never a special treat for me but a necessity. There were very few weeks that my family and I didn’t stop by local Fayetteville restaurants like Peaden’s, Smithfield’s or Bar-B-Que Hut for pulled pork sandwich, plate or combo dinner. I’ve only lived in three cities in my life … Fayetteville, NC., Daytona Beach, FL., and Memphis, TN. Two of the three are staples in the barbecue history of America so I’d say that it’s in my blood.

But I’m not just in love with the taste of a pork shoulder, whether pulled or chopped and put on a toasted bun or a rack of crispy ribs. I’m just as in love with the process as I am the product.

Low and Slow

You can’t cook barbecue in a microwave. And you surely can’t get quality barbecue from the freezer aisle of your local supermarket. Everything has to be from scratch. The meat must be bare. The seasonings are to be mixed together as a chemist would do a formula for a lifesaving medicine. The smoke has to be the product of the most flavor-filled wood from trees all over the land.   The choice of smoker must be abundant in tang and character. And the two most important parts of the process are time and temperature.

All barbecue, whether baby back ribs or pork shoulder must be cooked in the formula of “low and slow.” This means that the temperature is kept low, usually somewhere between 200-300 degrees, and the cooking time ranges anywhere between 6-15 hours.

Recently I woke up at 4:30am to prepare for a day of “smoking que” and I knew that it would be at least a 10 hour process. With my eyes barely open, I could almost taste the morsels of pulled pork in my mouth that I was preparing for our ID Family Gathering. And the only reason I even decided to cook pulled pork is because of “The Process.” As our group focused on being forged together as a Christ-centered family, the pulled pork stood as a metaphor for how our faith-based family should be formed. Low and slow. 

Building a faith based family that lives together in love and shows Christ off to the world only happens with time and the ability to hold on to Christ and each other in faith.
— Byron L. Cogdell

The process of becoming deeply rooted and connected to one another with Christ at the center is not one that happens overnight. It takes an intentional choosing of the right people. A preparation that is meticulous but enjoyable. Connections that are fused by fire and heated to bring together all of the ingredients for a perfect harmony of flavors that only make sense within the process of barbequing. Building a faith-based family that lives together in love and shows Christ off to the world only happens with time and the ability to hold on to Christ and each other in faith. Just as barbeque can't be made in the microwave, deep relationships can't either. They take time and unique experience that forge trust and understanding. Was it the first day of the disciples journey with Jesus that they walked out on water or even called him their messiah? No. It took Jesus sharing almost every moment of his life with them for three years before they were considered friends or family (John 15:15; Matthew 12:48 - 50). So we must be committed to the long process of being molded into family.

The heat, the meat and the eats

Family is tested most by the fire that the Lord allows in life. What we consider heat is almost always the Lord’s providence in allowing situations for us to grow a deeper love and trust for him. As a family that looks to be on mission, we should be open to being bonded by the slow heat of life and encouraged to draw nearer to one another. As we are the meat that is not just enduring the heat but being transformed by it, we have a chance to glorify the same God that makes the process happen. And just as a true barbecue craftsman manages the coals that will heat the meat, our master craftsman is in full control of the heat of life.

As we journey to become family … let us always remember that it may take time and it may be filled with heated situations but at the end of the day, the process will be just as beautiful as the product. Our Family Gatheringsare time for us to simmer and be bound together like the seasonings that make the meal memorable.

Identity Church wants to continually grow the group of individuals that will eventually be a gospel-centered, multiethnic, faith-based family. If you are interested in hearing more about how we are looking to grow together while we plant this church, click HERE, and you will received details about our gatherings, our vision and how you may be able to be a part of it.