Slow Church, McDonalds and Enjoying the Ride

Posted: January 10, 2015 in Uncategorized
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There’s an article in today’s West entitled, “Is the Age of McDonald’s Over?“. The article says that McDonalds market share in the US has been shrinking over the last few years and stocks have fallen about 6% in the last six months.

“On every fundamental metric, things have been really bad for McDonald’s,” says Yahoo Finance’s Jeff Macke.

This could be because of temporary PR problems but “if you put it in the context of every other fast food operator and the price of gas, these are tailwinds that a fast food operation can’t afford to ignore.”

The article points says that in the US McDonald’s has unveiled a new marketing plan in an effort to address falling sales:

In order to appeal to those who want healthy, fresh food, McDonald’s will allow for an increase in local autonomy. That means that chain owners will be allowed to give menus more of a regional flair.

Nationally, McDonald’s will work to simplify its menu and introduce the “Create Your Taste” initiative, which allows customers to personalize their burgers.

A redesign is also in store for the fast-food behemoth. The company unveiled new minimalist bags and changed their slogan from “I’m lovin’ it” to “Lovin’ is Greater than Hating.”

Also in store? An ad campaign that focuses on transparency and an increase in customer interaction. “We’re moving from a philosophy of, ‘billions served’ to ‘billions heard,'” says an official McDonald’s statement.

indexI have just concluded reading “Slow Church” by C Christopher Smith and John Pattison where they address the “McDonaldisation” of the church, so the article about McDonald’s rang a bell for me, particularly in the light of the recent collapse of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. A year ago Mars Hill had an average weekly attendance of 12,329 in 15 locations and fitted Smith and Pattison’s description of a “McDonaldised” church.  Following controversy around their founding pastor, Mark Driscoll and a massive decline in attendances, the church merged three of its Seattle locations, cut 30–40% of its staff to deal with decreases in giving, then announced plans to dissolve the church’s 13 remaining campuses into autonomous entities, with the option of continuing, merging with other congregations, or disbanding.

Could it be, I ask myself, that the franchise-style megachurch is bumping up against the same issues that McDonalds itself is experiencing. Could it be that it’s time for us all to slow down and look at some different approaches to church? Smith and Pattison put it this way:

If McDonalised church makes the case for increased efficiency, calculability, predictability and control, Slow Church makes the case for taste – specifically the case for the taste of the place, and for taste and see that the Lord is good (Ps.34:8). Taste is the most intimate of the five senses.

It goes on…

Tasting God’s goodness and costly discipleship go hand in hand. As we follow Jesus we experience in new ways the complex palate of God’s goodness. Similarly, since the church is the body of Christ, it is partly through the church that the world tastes God. This is why Slow church refuses to sacrifice quality to quantity. When efficiency, calculability, predictability and control become the primary standards by which we evaluate our life in our churches, it’s easy to justify cookie-cutter approaches to disciple making. Churches churn out Christians notable not for their authentic peculiarity but for their bland sameness. The final standard needs to be faithfulness.

The latest news about McDonalds on top of the news about Mars Hill Church is a timely warning to the church to look seriously at what it is doing and slow down. Perhaps if we did that we may get to enjoy the ride. Check out this video:

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