McDonalds the restaurant has fascinated me over the last decade as I have watched the incredible changes it has made to connect with its audience and meet needs in the community. McDonalds in Australia has changed completely in the past 10 years. I would never have imagined walking into a McDonalds, looking around and seeing mainly adults enjoying a cup of coffee and sweet snack, reading a paper on soft chairs. I would never have imagined seeing other people being served at their table, a self-created burger on a lovely wooden board with French fries in a cute stainless steel basket. I would have never imagined that if I was trying to eat something that was low in calories, I could go to McDonalds and have a grilled chicken salad and it would be reasonably heathy. I would never imagined seeing a sign saying "Maccas" instead of McDonalds. I would never have imagined that McDonalds would have an add campaign like "How Very un-McDonalds". To even admit that, let alone make it their new catch phrase, was intriguing for me.
McDonalds has changed so much that now it is a place where not only you can take your kids for a cheap meal and a play in the playground, but the whole family can come and there is something for everyone. In effect, it has extended its clientele to just about every age group. This is very clever in business terms and I dare say in terms of profit as well, but ultimately it means more and more people, and different types of people are coming through the door.
I have to be honest. I would very rarely choose to eat at McDonalds over other options, unless I am on a long road-trip and have no other options (now there's another blog) but I went into a McDonalds the other day, because quite frankly I was intrigued with the new advertising and the ability to create your own burger. McDonalds still has the Big Mac and happy meal, the original menu has not changed and neither has the heart of McDonalds changed and yet ... it has become "very un-McDonalds". I was surprised to see very few children and mostly adults in there at the time.
I may be crucified in saying this, but I couldn't help think that the church has a lot to learn from McDonalds. When the facts are clear that Australians are decreasingly NOT going to Church any more, and many churches are ageing and decreasing rapidly, surely we need to be asking, as I am sure McDonalds did many years ago, how can we attract a wider clientele and meet the needs of the community, so more people will come, taste and see that the Lord is good? The church’s mission and heart has not changed over the years, but what if our new catch phrase was "How very un-churched"?
What would that look like? What would need to change in the church, for young people to walk in and meet Jesus? What would need to change for a struggling, broken family to walk in and meet Jesus? What would need to change for someone who has all they need and can provide for themselves and their household, but still feel that they need to belong to something bigger than themselves, who long to serve and make a difference in life? What would need to change for someone who had preconceived ideas of what Church is like, for them to be open to coming into the house of God again or maybe for the very first time?
For like me just recently, I just HAD to go in and check out what was "very un-Mcdonalds" about McDonalds NOW, and I was pleasantly surprised and impressed. I just HAD to order my own 'Create your own burger' and it was a good experience. What would the Church need to do to create an environment that was "very unchurched" so that many more people would be open to walking toward Jesus's love and not stay away because of their preconceived ideas, valid or not, about the "church"?
It was very enlightening to chat to a McDonalds employee, who when asked about the new "create your own burger" promotion, crinkled her nose and said "oh, everyone hates it at work because it is too much hassle". I can understand that feeling when the process has been a certain way for so long, to make such a change is a hassle. It is why "change" rarely happens. The thing is if the Church doesn't change there are many that simply won't exist as they are now for very long.
Jesus calls us to change, to reach out, to open doors, to do what ever it takes that they might be saved. Surely this is our calling, our mission, our quest, as leaders of the Christian faith, to do whatever it takes to break down the walls, the assumptions, the negativity that stops people from meeting Jesus firsthand, to taste and see that the Lord, (God's love) is good. I long to see people who have not been into a Church in long time, if ever, walk into a church environment and say "wow, how very un-churched". To me this means walls and assumptions and negativity are beginning to break down. This is when people can be more open to His saving grace, love and forgiveness which has never changed, but has often been lost in translation, packaging or the communication of the church today.
If you asked these questions in your church/faith community...what would need to change?