UPDATE: It would seem that the video I embedded and the original Indigogo page link are no longer active. This may be due to a lack of funding, but would seem has more to do with a possible copyright infringement. The main webpage is still up, but with much blacked out and some links showing dialogue about trademark infringements. That being said, the video and links below will not work for the most part.
Saturday afternoons are usually a pretty lazy time for me. I bring the boys home from soccer, we have lunch and then my youngest heads down for his afternoon nap. With my wife at work and my oldest having some downtime of his own, I usually have a bit of time to be able to make a coffee, sit down by the fire and relax.
My brain is always going, so finding outlets to shut it off is always therapeutic. Since I don't have cable or satellite, I usually find myself searching apps like ShowYou and Wimp.com. They are great to organize all my feeds and show me a snap shot of the things that are going on in the real and cyber world. While sitting and running through some of the most popular videos on my ShowYou app, I came across this unique... gem.
To be honest, when the video was done, I wasn't sure what to think. It actually took me a bit to even process what I just saw and then I decided I needed to see if this was legit or some elaborate satire ploy to make some cosmic point. And low and behold, from what I can tell, unless I missed the man behind the curtain, this is definitely legit. You can find their crowd support page here and their official website here.
The two tag lines that you will find on their website, as a sort of mission statement, are:
CHURCHES NEED TO INNOVATE. LET'S BUILD THE MCDONALD'S CHURCH! #FEAST4JESUS
Let me be clear. I am all for innovation in the church and I am all for creative ways for the church to bring in extra revenue funds (e.g. Leasing unused space in the week, or renting your facility for events, etc). This can counter-balance costs and cover things like operation and facility expenses and allow for giving and funds to be used more wisely.
I serve in a context that is both innovative, and creative in finding ways to subsidize costs through extra revenue streams (like leasing and renting). We have even seen people bridge into our faith community and accept the Gospel because of these creative ventures. Being creative in our Kingdom work is not a bad thing and I think it is wise to become as self-sufficient as possible as an organization. I don't know if anyone is arguing against the fact that the church, as a whole, in North America has been declining in it's ability to engage people and therefore has been declining in peoples deep rooted connectedness and commitment to it. But I am not sure this is the best solution.
I see the sentiment behind what they are trying to do, but in my biased opinion, it so drastically misses the mark. Even if this idea didn't have so many complicated and numerous problems, honestly, it is the naive simplicity of this plan that really strikes me. The presentation seems so silly, and I think from the lack of funding, the general public sees that too (Though I guess they still have 48 days to raise to raise the rest of the $999,858, so who knows, right?).
"Churches are dying, people are leaving in droves; we are becoming more and more irrelevant and ineffective in our culture. I know! Let's build a McDonald's in churches and that will solve all our problems." Really? All we need to do to get people back in the seats of churches, hearing the Gospel, having their lives transformed is build a McDonald's?
Maybe, I am missing something here. Maybe I don't get the five year, ten year, twenty year plan they have set out and I just don't get the genius behind it all. But honestly, the 'Magic Bullet' idea and its fallacies are so glaringly obvious, that I feel bad for the branding agency that came up with this idea. It is at least a $1,000,000 gamble I am not willing to put my money towards. I mean, I admire their heart behind the whole idea, and I genuinely hope their end goal is for kingdom purposes. But honestly, it lacks wisdom, common sense and above all the creativity they think they are bringing to the table.
From what I can tell, this campaign hopes that putting a McDonald's into a Church will both help in the so-called Great Exodus of people leaving the church, and the reality that so many churches are closing their doors due to financial burdens. In short, people like to go to McDonald's in droves (70 Million Served Each Day to be exact) and so if we put McDonalds in churches, people will return to Church.
Furthermore, it goes on to say that the Ronald McDonald foundation helps families stay together (an estimated 9 million families), which is an important Church value, so it would seem that both McDonald's and churches would be the perfect partner... really they need each other, right? It is so obvious, so simple, why hasn't someone else thought of this before?
It misses the mark because it uses a gimmick to attract people to the same old dead model of church it had before. They see the church dying and instead of asking some hard questions of rethinking how we 'do church' we want to put a shinny new toy into the broken system, hoping that will fix the problem.
What is saddest of all is that instead of realizing that we have the greatest treasure anyone could offer, we replace that with the allure of McDonald's and think that will solve everything. See, the issue isn't that we don't have something people need or want, but we lack in how we present it. The treasure is lost in the cultural traditions of the past that we hold sacred and choose to rather die than change. To engage the world, we need to ask 'why' we do what we do, and ask 'is this the best way to do it?'
The Gospel and its message is sacred, but the form and vessel in which it is 'packaged' and 'presented' is not. The answer isn't even found in one form, and innovation can actually be ancient in some cases--it doesn't need to be new. But we need to be asking the hard questions, seeking what God would have us be in our context, and be willing to make some hard decisions to be effective for the work of the Kingdom.
The statement in the above graphic, I believe, has missed the mark in reaching it's goal and is actually quite short-sighted, though the sentiment behind it is bang on. Let us be innovative, creative, ground-breaking, dangerous, trail-blazers and let us pray differently, seeking God's face and His will in our context. Let us be willing to tear down the things that hinder the Kingdom from moving forward and build up new things that will engage people--putting the Gospel at the forefront of it's effort. Christ's church is moving forward and is changing lives and if we wish to be a part of it, we need to get on board with what God is doing and what God is building.
That being said, these are just the ramblings of one person. I am much more interested in your thoughts. Let this be a primer to stimulate conversation. Comment below and join in.
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