I thought I would take the time to attempt to explain the story
behind the name “Ten Slices.” Let me first acknowledge that I
understand it’s more than likely not going to mean as much to others
who weren’t personally involved in the story. But hopefully there
will be some value in the story for us all.
It was May and I was in Chicago with some friends, Mark and Bobby, on
a pre-site visit for an upcoming youth mission trip with a group from
Ohio. We were walking all over the city trying to finalize some of
the details for the journey the students would be experiencing in
Some of the less spiritual details were simple things like, where are
we going to have this group eat? We understood that no one should
come to Chicago without having “Chicago-style” pizza. When people,
not from Chicago, think about pizza they more than likely think about
Gino’s East. But since that’s more of a tourist thing, we were
thinking of taking them to arguably what truly is Chicago’s best
pizza…Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria. It may not be as well known outside of
Chicago but it’s some great deep-dish pizza.
We arrived, placed our order and dove right into knocking out a large
pizza. The memories are making me want to have some for lunch today,
but being in VA makes that a little difficult. We finished
everything off and began walking to our next destination. As we
walked, we talked about the size of the group and wondered about how
many pizzas we would need to order to feed the group. We noticed that
the pizzas were cut into eight huge slices. Mark, the leader of the
group made mention that the slices more than likely were too large
for some of the students to eat completely. So I suggested that maybe
we could have Lou’s cut our pizzas into ten slices instead of eight.
I had no clue as to what that suggestion would lead to.
As we progressed down the streets of Chicago, Mark and I found
ourselves in the midst of an increasingly heated debate about whether
a pizza can be cut into ten relatively even slices. Mark was
concerned that by cutting the pizza into ten slices some of the
students would be getting a much smaller portion of pizza than
others. If you knew Mark you wouldn’t necessarily be surprised by
his concern. Looking back on the discussion I can’t believe how loud
and animated the discussion got at times. As we came to round trash
cans on the street corners of Chicago we would use them as our
“pizzas” to show the other how it can or can’t be done. I remember
Bobby receiving a phone call, I believe from his wife, and we even
brought her into the discussion by asking her opinion. This carried
on for at least 30 minutes.
We finally arrived at our next location and it gave us an opportunity
to actually sit down, break out a small notebook I was carrying and
draw out what we each were saying. If you want to cut a pizza into
ten even slices, not eight, then it all comes down to the second cut.
Typically one cuts a pizza in half and then turns 90 degrees and cuts
it in half again (second cut). That can’t be done if you want ten
even slices. To get ten slices you need to turn the pizza 36 degrees
and cut it. Do that and additional four more times and you’ve got a
pizza cut into ten slices. I know, who can measure exactly 36 degrees
to get ten even slices…don’t get lost in the details.
For whatever reason, Mark couldn’t see it in his mind and needed to
see it with his eyes. He had seen a pizzas cut in eight slices for
so long that it was difficult to grasp something different. Cutting a
pizza into eight slices was the “right” way to cut a pizza.
At that point both Mark and I had some insights that went deeper than
simply cutting a pizza. Mark realized that what just took place was
a great example of what discipleship is. He needed someone to show
him, not just tell him. To often people choose the easy way of
simply telling people truth instead of choosing the more difficult
way of investing “into” the lives others. It’s safer to stay at a
distance and throw information at them then to get dirty by pouring
your life into them – but that’s not what we’re called to do (1
The insight I had from the situation was that we too often get caught
up into how we’ve always done things; it’s hard to see another way.
For those of us in the world of church, we like to do things the way
we’ve always done them. Can church be different? Can’t it be more
about community than “producing” a thematic show? Can the focus be
more about where the community is going, instead of how many are
showing up? Why is it so important that the community
gathers to hear only one voice? Can’t others on the journey have a
voice as well? Why can’t the community gather and speak with one
voice through their actions?
If we were to take an honest look at the Text, I think we would find
that what we’re comfortable with, and focus on, has very little to do
with being the people, the community, God desires us to be. “Ten
Slices” is simply about exploring to see if there is another way to
more effectively, as individuals, come together in being the
community of faith God desires us to be. And in turn usher in His
Kingdom into the chaos of the world around us. It begins and ends
with our desire to, love God with all our heart, with all our soul,
and with all our might. And to love our neighbor (including your enemy)
as we love our self.